Sorry, third time in as many weeks that I am posting about loss. However, this one is quite different.
Sunday I had the pleasure (yes pleasure!) of attending a memorial service for someone who helped shape the woman I am today. Actually, not just me, but hundreds of women through the 60s and 70s. This woman, Alice Sternin, was the director of the summer camp I attended. I have posted about this idyllic place from my childhood before, as both my children are fortunate enough to share in the legacy.
I have never attended a service where there was as much laughter as tears. The essence of this woman was described by countless speakers. Everyone in the room shared the same memories of this tiny woman who was larger than life.
People traveled from all over the country. Family and friends spoke. One after another, stories were shared that sparked long forgotten memories for each one of us . When her famous lines were quoted, the entire room joined in unison. Treasured camp songs were sung and tears were shed for the loss, not just of this woman, but the childhood jewel this perfect place had been for all of us.
My daughter has had the good fortune to have had this same experience. The following is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to Jana and her girls at the end of their last summer as campers. This sums up what this woman built. And her legacy will carry on long after she is gone.
You are so very lucky to have this piece of your life. Camp is something that you cannot put a label on. There are no words to describe how you feel when you are with your girls. How the sight of the lake and mountains fill your heart in a way that nothing else in this world truly can. The essence of camp is ingrained in each and every one of you. It is part of what makes you who you are, and believe me, who you will always be. We are all beyond lucky to know these feelings.
Leaving is never easy. All these years later I still tear up as I walk out of camp and drink in one last moment of the place I love so much.
Never, NEVER, take this place for granted. Hold it close and it will never let you down.
Today, as I sat with MY girls so many years later, I felt the full weight of those words.
Here’s to you Big Al! The toughest camp director in the East. With the biggest heart! You will be dearly missed, but rest easy, your legacy will never die.
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