Monday, September 29, 2003

Arie Taylor died Saturday. I hear the news on the car radio as I was driving to WalMart this morning. I hadn't thought of Arie in years but when I heard her name; her face popped into my mind (of course she is wearing one of those big hats she was famous for) and I groaned, "Oh, no."

Arie was a link to my mother and my youth. She and my mother knew each other because they both were involved in Denver city and Colorado state politics. Arie was a state representative for twelve years. The first African-American women elected to the Colorado State Legislature. She and my mother were alike in that politics was their life. Both were outspoken and would fight for anyone who could not fight for themselves. Arie in a big way and my mom more from behind the scenes.

Arie was once described as "a large, fierce, black woman," but the Arie I met was shy and quiet in private. I remember working for a political candidate in the early 70's, I think it was Craig Barnes' Senate campaign, and Arie helped me prepare a stack of sample ballots that had to have some "vote for..." information stamped on them. I remember being impressed that someone as high up as Arie would be doing grunt work with me. She came over and said hi and I said hi back and after that we never said another word. I didn't say anything because I was shy (I didn't even tell her who my mother was) and as we worked I realized she didn't say anything because she was shy too. We started with a pile of ballots and as Arie stamped I would pull each completed ballot away and put it in a finshed stack. We quickly got into a fast rhythm, stamp, pull, stamp, pull, and when we finished we looked at each other and smiled. I could tell by her smile that she found the whole thing as much fun as I did.

Now, Arie is gone and as her niece said, "Her hat is too big to fill."

Arie is gone and with her passing I feel like another connection to my mother is gone. Our lives are made up of connections with other people. Now, in a small way, I understand how older people can give up and die when they realize they have out lived everyone they've known.

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