Goodbye, Rachel Ann Leibrock
Words will never capture everything this woman meant to me.
She and my grandfather took me in when I was a baby and raised me for several years when my own parents couldn't get their shit together. From the time I was 18 months to when I was nearly 5, I called her mother.
I have a lifetime of stories and memories. Some are wonderful and filled with so much love I could burst. Many are fraught with frustration, anger and complication. All are built on love.
I was named after her, even though my mother tries to tell me otherwise.
She taught me to sing and dance and of the joy in staying up late at night to tell stories.
She passed down to me her stubborn streak as well as a love for antiques, music and a strong drink.
She was more than a little disappointed that I didn't share her affinity for sparkly, glittery clothes. She loved sequins and bright colors and wished my mother would show more cleavage.
She bought me my first pair of contacts when I was 13--a teenage game changer. She told me I had gorgeous, long legs and then helpfully advised that I might want to think about getting a nose job.
She told me I was beautiful every time I saw her.
She told me I was smart and could do anything I wanted.
She had a hard time saying goodbye to people she loved and would sometimes instead just pick a fight before you left. She just found it to be easier that way, I guess.
She was born and raised in Wichita Falls, one of three sisters in a very poor family.
She had only eight years of formal education and met my grandfather while working as a telephone operator at Sheppard Air Force Base. He wanted her to connect him to his girlfriend in Paris, France--he was buying her a pair of silk stockings. My grandmother, most likely tempted by the thought of such luxurious garments, patched him through to Paris, Texas instead.
The rest, of course, is history.
Rachel Ann Leibrock was a true beauty and a huge personality--always a consummate performer--who charmed everyone she met.
I had the chance to say goodbye to her last month in Dripping Springs, Texas. She remembered me and finally got to meet my husband. She told me I was beautiful. She told Cory he was handsome. She asked us both if we liked to drink beer. I said I did, but liked whiskey better. The biggest smile broke out across her face.
Last night I thought about my grandmother before I went to sleep. It was an exhausted, fleeting thought, one borne on love, remembrance and worry.
This morning I woke to news of her death. I feel all things sadness, joy and relief.
Mostly I'm happy to know that she's back with my grandfather. He's been gone for more than 10 years and she was never really the same after his death.
Goodbye Rachel Ann Leibrock. You will never be gone from my heart.