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Sharon Erwin 1939-2005

Today I will not speak as VatulBlog. I will express myself as Maitri.

This droplet in virtual space and time is dedicated to honoring the life and death of D’s mother, a great woman, a terrific maternal figure and, until recently, a vivacious being. After valiantly fighting a renewed battle with cancer over the course of the last few weeks, Sharon Erwin passed away peacefully in her sleep early this morning, with her second son, David, by her side. Diagnosed with cancer of the lung and brain on St. Patrick’s Day this year, Sharon gritted her teeth through the year-long gauntlet of radiation and chemotherapy. Remission wasn’t meant to be and, very recently, the illness took control all over again. Praise the pantheon that she didn’t suffer much and refused to linger in pain and a severely diminished quality of life. Some comfort may be derived from knowing that this is how Sharon would have wanted to die. If she was anything, it was the living example of dignity.

Sharon Ann Erwin was born on January 13, 1939 in Door County, Wisconsin to Leona Kroogman and Merritt Churches. As a child, she liked to play on her Dutch grandparents’ farm with her older brother, Lee, and loved to dance. Sharon grew up to be the very tall, very blonde and very hard-working mother of Rick, David and D, and loved dogs. Rarely seen without a German Shepherd and, lately, an Akita by her side, she was the type specimen of imposing, fun-loving and charitable. Never have I met a woman so forgiving of her children and pets, never have I interacted with a woman so erudite, capable (best seamstress ever!) and cosmopolitan despite not having journeyed beyond high school and the United States. Sharon completed the picture of Strong Midwestern Woman and she did it well.

Survived and, more importantly, remembered fondly by her husband, Marshall Robert, her sons Rick, David and D, her daughter-in-law Lisa, brother Lee, half-sister Candy and a host of extended relations, Sharon lived a full life. Say a kind word or a prayer if you knew this great woman and, if you didn’t, say one anyway. This world suffers from a severe shortage of cool people and we’ve definitely lost one.

D mourns his mother like I mourn New Orleans. The nature of Door County now changes for him, as does the texture of New Orleans after the storm, in my case. Death and destruction don’t just affect the immediate, but can and do change the entire complexion and perception of a place and time. How many mothers died here.  According to D, it’s not just Sharon who has left, it’s the meaning she imbued in the place that her children called home.

Home is not a place, it’s a feeling. It’s a spirit. It’s a living thing.

Fly in peace, dearest Sharon. Thank you for being my “American mom,” never judging me, teaching me how to paint clouds, every blissful shopping trip and admonishing me with “You have two masters degrees and don’t think you can knit?” I will wear everything you made me with great pride. Most of all, I love you for your big heart and every great smile you flashed at me. May your soul attain moksha.

4 comments… add one
  • Saheli November 27, 2005, 9:35 PM

    Sounds like a wonderful woman who has done well to imbue her spirit into friends, not just family. The dead live on in our memories, and she seems to have found some great minds to dwell in.

    “You have two masters degrees and don’t think you can knit?”
    Great quote. Thank you for sharing.

  • brimful November 28, 2005, 10:28 AM

    My thoughts go out to you and D’s family.

  • Maitri November 28, 2005, 1:27 PM

    Thanks for all the emails, comments and phonecalls, people. Two sentences or a short conversation knowing that we are thought about works great wonders.

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