Wednesday, March 22, 2006

So Long, Naomi

Naomi Edsall, a former neighbor of mine (and Todd's) when I lived on Main Street in Frostburg died on March 10th.

Naomi was one of my reasons for wanting to live at 195 East Main (the other being a desire to live as far from the previous six years of my life): she was chatty and welcoming when I asked her about the (phone number-less) FOR RENT sign in the upstairs window; her apartment (which she invited me into so she could write down the phone number of the landlord) smelled like beef stew- or at least that's how I remember it- (it seemed like her apartment always smelled like beef stew) and I'll never forget the two mason jars full of the stuff she gave me during the year that we were neighbors (also the year I started eating meat again). I loved that stew. One of the other benefits of being her neighbor was that she was nearly deaf- I could play my accordion at any hour and not bother her.

Naomi quickly became my Nana away from my Nana- when I was headed to the store I’d call and ask if she needed anything. On occasion Annabelle and I would go downstairs where I’d play tunes for her and listen to her stories about her oodles of brothers and sisters (all but one of nine dead), her having grown up on a farm in Avilton, Maryland, singing with her sisters in church, the Tallyho! (the restaurant she and her husband owned), her pet Pomeranian that died of cancer, Lawrence Welk and Myron Floren, the pain of missing her sister Vera (whom she had lived with), and her laments for her mother who she swore never wanted to have so many children.

When it snowed Todd and I would shovel her sidewalk, clean off her car, and occasionally we’d remove the fallen twigs from the low roof behind her kitchen. One icy February night, on the way home from either Kim's house, or the bar, I found a box of Christmas decorations (intended for the trash but blown into the street) and decided to decorate the small, sad, leafless, and neutered pear tree in the small bit of grass between our front doors and the road. I went to bed nervous as to how Naomi might react to the decorations- would she think I was silly? That this wasn’t the kind of thing a man did- even if he did play the accordion? At first she thought I was ridiculous for doing it-- in her only-her voice she asked me why I’d done it. But by mid March I got a call telling me that a decoration had blown off and would I come down and put it back up? I went downstairs and asked her which limb she wanted it on- when she had decided, I twisted the used baggie-tie that she had affixed to the decoration onto the limb and we looked at the tree for a little while and had a chat.

Naomi couldn’t understand why I wanted to leave my job teaching at FSU and was sure that I’d return from Virginia after getting my degree. Last summer I even received an angry letter from her telling me how disappointed she was in my having decided to stay in Richmond instead of coming back to the place where people loved me.

From The Republican News:

Naomi A. (Chaney) Edsall, 88, Frostburg, died Fri-day, March 10, 2006, at St. Vincent de Paul Nursing Center.

Born July 1, 1917, in Avilton, she was a daughter of the late Walter Chaney and Alice (Whiteman) Chaney. She was also preceded in death by her husband, William Edsall; five sisters, Vera Chaney, Hazel Robertson, Violet Chaney, Marie Bennett, and Ruth Crowe; and four brothers, Edgar, Oscar, Lawrence, and Paul Chaney.

She was a graduate of Grantsville High School. She retired as a housekeeper at Frostburg State University. She was a member of the Frostburg Church of the Brethren, where she served in the Women's Fellowship, sang in the choir, and formerly served on the church board. She was also a member of the Women of the Moose 348.

Surviving are one brother, the Rev. Connell Chaney, Grantsville; numerous nieces and nephews; and two stepsons, Richard and Robert Edsall, both of Johnstown, Pa.

Friends were received at the Durst Funeral Home, Frostburg, where a service was held on Tuesday, March 14, with the Rev. Rick Riley officiating.

Interment was in the Sunset Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be directed to the Frostburg Church of the Brethren, 1 Beall St., Frostburg, MD 21532.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Aww. You made me cry. She seemed so sweet... -Judy