Miriam (Mimi) Deaton, age 77, died suddenly on Monday, March 13, 2017. For many years she taught school in Austin, at Odom Elementary. She was pleased to meet, on the occasion, her former first-graders. She was pleased, as well, to meet the children of the students she had taught in that homeroom. She was pleased, but did not broadcast it, on the occasion she met the grandchildren of her former students.
For many years, Mimi did volunteer work at the Blanton Museum and a few other venues; she stopped going not because she grew tired of it, but because it became an activity she could not easily do and carry her oxygen machine with her. She used to visit our daughter in New Jersey and said only a few days ago how glad she was to have done those things in New York, museums and other special treats that she traveled to on her own, using bus and subway. During 9/11, our daughter was working in Manhattan and saw one of the towers fall. Mimi told me that she had been to the top of both World Trade Centers, more than once, and it compounded our sense of loss that terrible day.
Her fellow teachers at Odom became her friends for life, treasured and deeply loved, and they have been unceasingly kind to her in recent years, when she became a shut-in. She's had many other treasured friends, such as Tracy and other roommates at Baylor, where Mimi graduated with a Teaching Certificate and with Honors, in 1961. Mimi suffered from Sjögren's disease, the sicca syndrome, with dryness of the mouth and eyes, and severe lung disease. In 2013 we moved from Northwest Hills to Shoal Creek Blvd., and one benefit was our proximity to the Sonic on Burnet Road, where she daily bought a cup of ice and a diet coke that she nursed until the following day. Those at Sonic became family! Among the great friends she made there was Michael, who recently moved, but who loved her, as all did who knew her, and saw the wisdom and practical knowledge she brought to every interaction with others. She loved, was well-loved, and will be missed. But she had a good life, despite tragedy, despite the things all of us have and understand as universal, were we given the gift of growing old together, even to think that the best is yet to come. In reality, it stops being your world. And you begin to think of catching up to those who've gone on before.
She was predeceased by her parents, Helen and Gilbert Garrett, and by our son Roger. She is survived by our son Steve Deaton, Commander in the Williamson County Sheriff's office, and the sole reason she faithfully watched COPS every night, including her last. She had been pleased to finally move her television back to her room not long ago; perhaps because she sensed something and wanted to be closer in the evenings to the deadhead in the next room. She is survived by our daughter Lara, who moved to New York City in 1993 and began working for a law firm and still does. Lara's three daughters are Anna, Becca (Rebecca Miriam), and Mel. They loved their Gram so much, and made a poster for her telling all the ways, and that lovely poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, was Mimi's favorite. "How Do I Love Thee?" The poet names fourteen ways; I'll add a fifteenth: I love thee for being. Mimi loved our other granddaughter equally, that would be Tiffany, on a scale that is not a scale but a depth, in shared love that only grows deeper. Mimi mothered Tiffany for a period of time when Tiff was small, and who visited us last Christmas. And Jennie, our daughter with Down syndrome. Perhaps, more than anyone else, Jennie was responsible for Mimi hanging on those extra months, to see to her enduring care. It worked out that she had seen Jennie the day before, Sunday, when Steve took her back to Group Home. As well, Mimi is survived by her sister, Vicki, who meant the world to her, and they were together every day. She is survived by Kachina Clark, her niece--Vicki's daughter--and by Bret Clark of Georgia, Vicki's son, and our nephew, and by his two daughters, Maddie and Garrett. She is survived by her brother-in-law, Steve Bradley (Vicki's husband), and by Susan Bradley, Steve Bradley's twin sister. Mimi is also survived by her husband of almost 57 years that went by too quickly. The oft-told story is that when Mimi moved to Pittsburg in seventh grade, they had split the class into two separate rooms and my girlfriend was in the other room. What was I to do? Luckily this new girl was in my room, knew my girlfriend, and began, each day, delivering to her my coded love notes: Oday oyah ovlay ema? It was my second language, Pig Latin, and somehow the letter carrier ended up in my arms, and for a writer there is no greater payoff than that!
Mimi isn't here to offer us a way to cope with our loss. My sincere belief is that people, most of them, know when they are going to die. Mimi spoke of things we'd do in the future, even decades from now. But that was merely talk. That last Sunday evening as we had the dinner she had cooked (and afterward would wash the dishes by hand), I needed to get up and get something from the kitchen; As I passed her chair, for some reason I stopped and turned around, bent down to her, touched her and said, "I love you so much!" She said, "I am so glad you do." Later, to come back to what she had been saying, for the last two or three weeks while we were there at the table looking toward the rock garden out those glass walls, "I sure do like having dinner with you here." Mind you, we've been here almost four years. That was new. She had begun saying it, and I see now that it was her goodbye. She knew. And on some level, not a conscious one, I did too. It was her goodbye, so brave and so typical of her, in seeing right to the heart of things and expressing it like that, low key but perfect pitch. It is bound to be important that she left us at just this time. Maybe we'll learn more at the Memorial Service. Meanwhile, perhaps we might turn to what Roger told us. Hug somebody today and tell them you love them! Heck, hug two people today and tell them you love them. You'll be surprised! Amazed at how good it feels! Because you cannot know until they are gone how empty is the shell that is left. Mimi asked to be cremated but will be at Weed-Corley, in a pretty outfit, were anyone to wish to see her one last time and say their own personal goodbye. Then she will join Roger in at least one place, and a couple places to be decided by her granddaughters.
A memorial service for family and friends will be held at Weed-Corley-Fish on Friday, March 17th at 2:00 p.m.
The family asks, in lieu of flowers, please donate to your favorite charity.