Clarisse "Classy" Morant spent her life caring for others, and now that she's died at 104, inspiring the rest of us.
It's really nice that NPR did a piece on Classy Morant, the sort of not-famous person who should get recognized more often, because people like her serve as a reminder of all the goodness in the world. She died recently at 104, after nursing both her younger siblings through to the end of their lives: she had promised never to put them in a nursing home, and she didn't. As she put it to NPR, "I made a promise to the Lord...If he give me the health, the strength, the life to do for them, take care of them, keep them from going in a home, I would do it. And as long as he give it to me, I will give it to them."
Her sister suffered from Alzheimer's, and her brother was incapacitated by a stroke and dementia. The three siblings lived together in D.C., and - with help from day-nurses - Classy managed to keep the other two at home until their deaths, her younger brother in 2007 and sister on the last day of 2008. Only then did the 104-year-old begin to fade. After years of doing heavy physical work with no complaint or problem, she died after keeping her promise. Says a social worker who saw Classy in action, "She was all about providing whatever care they needed and never thought about, really, what her needs were and never complained about it. It was really remarkable."
In times of global turmoil, when pain and suffering seem to outweigh good, it's often small acts of strength and kindness that we need to be reminded of. At a fancy market in Manhattan yesterday, I saw the woman behind the bread counter keep a line of prosperous customers waiting while she discussed, seriously and kindly, the banana a very elderly lady had purchased and eaten earlier that day. Clearly, it was this lady's routine to come in and talk with her friend in the bakery - who I later saw slip a small muffin into her purse. "She is so nice, she's my best friend," the older lady, who had dressed carefully for her daily outing, told me enthusiastically. "I leave my apartment every day to talk to her!" (She then wanted to talk more about the banana, which we did. It was indeed both handsome and expensive.) I don't know why I bring that up, except that both these stories provided that jolt of happiness that basic, unfussy goodness can give. Thanks to NPR for giving someone special her due, and to people like Classy for helping to keep things going.