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9.20.2012

"Longevity is not something I long for..."



When people talked about old age, Charlotte would often say that she wasn't enthused with the idea. Her father had lingered with dementia, which they called being "feeble-minded." Mental or physical weakness was not on Charlotte's wish list.

Things were going well at the camp. Charlotte had a great and long-standing friendship with the Yearly Meeting Superintendent Jack Willcuts. They wrote warm and humor filled letters to each other almost weekly on some business or another. She had a great deal of influence on Yearly Meeting business.

At the beginning of 1977 Charlotte was approaching her 52th birthday. her enthusiasm for development was not waning. She worked long hours most days. Planning for the Spring and Summer camps was well under way.

Jesse Almquist was at the camp for a weekend of cooking for a retreat group. After finishing up in the kitchen one morning she found Charlotte in the windows of the Friendship Center looking out towards the ocean.  Jesse was struck by Charlotte's pose  - she was leaning against a pillar. This struck Jesse as odd because her normal position was two feet firm on the ground, back ramrod straight, hands behind back like the captain of a ship. Jesse watched her for a moment and noticed something even stranger, Charlotte was perfectly still - for a very long moment. Jesse could not remember ever seeing Charlotte so still. She finally spoke up.

"Charlotte, are you ok?"
"Oh, Hi Jess, just thinking - how are you?"
"I just fine, but Charlotte, how are YOU?"
"Honestly Jess, I'm a little concerned, I've been feeling a little puny, Dot made me go to the doctor, he doesn't like the way my blood looks - he wants me to go to Portland for some tests. It worries me a bit, Jess. You know me, I don't get sick."

Jesse Almquist told me this story 30 years after the fact and she could still convey mild horror in the vivid telling of it. She said she was shocked because she realized she had never in 20 years of knowing Charlotte Macy ever heard her express concern or worry about ANYTHING. It just wasn't part of her vocabulary.

On  Monday the 24 of January, Charlotte and Dorothy both left the beach house. Dorothy was meeting up with Mahlon and they were heading east for a big Sunday School and church growth convention in the Midwest - they would be gone a week.  Charlotte had put off the Portland tests until the week before Mid-year Boards. She saw no reason in making two trips.  She drove over to the valley and visited with the old Silverton folks for a day or two. She didn't tell anyone about her health issues.

On the plane, Dorothy told Mahlon that his sister had been having some unusual (for her) fatigue. Dot had insisted she see the doctor when she started having some unexplained bruising.  The two of them figured it was good that she was being looked at, and they would deal with it when they got back. Sometimes they had to tag-team Charlotte to make her slow down or take a rest.  Dorothy was glad for the back-up.

Charlotte checked herself into the hospital for tests on Wednesday the 26th. No one in the state knew she was there.

On Thursday, with no one present with her, the doctors gave her the diagnosis of acute leukemia. The prognosis was not good. The treatment options were limited. She let them call her older sister Anne.  She decided not to bother Dot and Mahlon, as she wanted to spare them bad news when they were far away and could do nothing. She figured Monday was soon enough for them to know. She was surprised when the doctors said, no, she could not check out and go to Newberg for board meetings.

Late Thursday she lapsed into unconsciousness.  Anne called the Yearly Meeting Friday morning, but the message that got to Jack was that she was sick and being treated. She was prayed for at Boards.  Clynton and Marjorie Crisman decided to go to the hospital to pay a pastoral call. When they arrived they were appalled to find Charlotte in a deep coma. Her brother Dwight and his wife were in the hall, Anne was by Charlotte's bed. When they came in, Anne said "Let's Pray for a miracle!" and at that moment the alarm bells went off and nurses rushed in, but She could not be revived.

It took until the next day to get a message to Dorothy, and Mahlon.
They did not believe it at first.
They headed for the airport.
Way too late.

They never got to say goodbye.

.

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