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AFTERWORD Reflections in Gray BY KAYE NORTMCOTT Austin OCELYN GRAY was part of the Austin women’s mafia. A unsung laborer in the political vineyards, she drew sustenance from her feminism and dispensed an exuberance and grace that her friends only began quantifying when she died gallantly of complications from cancer recently at the age of 58. She raised money for the Observer, for her former boss Bob Eckhardt, for feminist candidates and generally pitched in on progressive causes. I could list her political history here, but in a short space there are more important things to say about a friend. She offered to many of us a close-up introduction to death. During two years of surgery and physical crisis after physidal crisis, she never put her face to the wall, never pulled away from life or those who gathered around her. Jocelyn’s final, invaluable lesson to her younger friends was how to die. For her memorial service, she stipulated there should be time for grief as well as for celebration. Accordingly it started on a somber note and ascended to laughter. Her half-sister, Sidney, recounted that during her last two weeks in the hospital, Jocelyn had bouts of pure terror as pneumonia inexorably drew life’s breath from her. But there were sweet moments as well. Her daughters Jane and Kathleen slept on a rollaway bed next to her and took turns watching over her. On the last night as Jane slept, Jocelyn motioned Kathleen to sit by her on the bed. She stroked her cheek and said, “Beautiful child, beautiful child.” Sometime during that long night, she told Jane, “Janey, I’ve run a good race.” “I know momma, I’m proud of you,” Jane answered. Lisa McGiffert praised her for “the strength of her remarkable spirit and her ability to continually issue classic one-liners right to the end.” Lisa remembered, “On a particularly frightening night in the hospital a week before she died, it was very scary for her and all of us. She turned to me and in that melodic voice of hers that came through the oxygen mask loud and clear, she said, ‘I may not make it past tonight, but this has all been too fascinating.’ And it was.” Former Observer editor Kaye Northcott is a political writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. An electric gathering of compadres crowded into the tiny room. There were more hands than Jocelyn could hold. People got tangled up in the wires, setting off alarm bells, but the Seton Hospital staff took it all in good stride. Through much of the ordeal Jocelyn presided like the good hostess she had always been. Jocelyn’s room offered the best food and best conversation by far I’ve ever encountered in a hospital setting. After she slipped into unconsciousness we consoled one another with stories about Jocelyn and debated which should be told at the memorial service. There were tales of Jocelyn’s haughtiness. Stacey Abel was partial to the tale about Jocelyn having to fly on Continental to a meeting with Gloria Steinem because the original airline on which she was booked went on strike. Continental was on strike too, but it had hired non-union crews to fill in. When the flight ran late into O’Hare, she missed her connecting flight. Registering her displeasure, she summoned an airline exec and told him, “I should have kn000wn better than to fly a scab airline.” There were tales of her pluckiness during chemotherapy. Celebrating her birthday at an Austin restaurant, she wore a matronly grey-streaked wig borrowed from a gay friend who had bought it for $1.99 at St. Vincent de Paul as part of a Halloween nun costume. One of her birthday presents was yet another thrift store wig, a gaudy blonde wig. She whipped off the gray one and became an instantaneous blonde as those seated at her own table and a couple of tables nearby applauded her. The haughty Jocelyn lost anecdotally to the culinary Jocelyn at the memorial service. Ron Waters, a former Houston legislator, said she taught him not only how to eat an artichoke, but “how to savor it.” Even when she was dotty from drugs in the hospital, Jocelyn was still thinking about food. Waters remembered her saying, “What I’d really like to have is a big juicy glass of tartar sauce.” Lisa said Jocelyn helped her overcome age-ism, a prejudice she didn’t know she had. “Jocelyn was the first close friend I had that was 20 years older than me. She helped me understand that friendships, title friendships can easily span generations. I’ve reveled in the example of what my life could be in 20 years,” she said. Her friend Claire Geeson said that Jocelyn was a nurturer: “She was always there for you when you were feeling a little puny. She was right there with just kind of holding you Did you say you felt inadequate? Oh, perish the thought.’ “You just felt so good about yourself. You felt so strong and wonderful and empowered by Jocelyn. After a good dose of Jocelyn’s love, I would walk away feeling bold, brilliant, and beautiful.” Leslie Lemon celebrated Jocelyn’s manner, her dress, and especially her language, explaining, “If we were to see the same thing, I would say it’s so big and she would say, ‘It’s magnificent.’ “Colors and colorful words, like red, radiant, ravishing, and even regal. Purple, passionate, purposeful, and very proper. “Gold, she was made of gold, gilded, gracious, gallant, and giving. Jocelyn was joyful, jeweled, and just. “She was just splendid.” 0 CASA MARIANELLA BANQUET Central American food & Flamenco Dancers Friday November 9 at 6:00 PM San Jose Catholic Church you decide your donation: $10.00/ $15.00/ $20.00 OR MORE! mail donations to: 821 Gunter, 78702 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23