You would never know it unless she told you, but she had a weak heart. It started when she was eight years old and she contracted rheumatic fever. She spent six years, from age 8-14, in a convent resting and being cared for by nuns. Her home in Brooklyn, at that time, was unsettled and at times violent so her mother, a charismatic believer in Jesus Christ, protected her by not allowing her to come home and be a part of the turbulent, home environment.
Irma and Efrain were married at age 18. The newlyweds moved to Detroit, lived there for one year then travelled across the country to sunny southern California where they started their family in 1952. They had three daughters: Sharon, Terri, and Melodie, and divorced after 19 years of marriage.
During the 60’s Irma was a single mom raising three girls. She worked as a secretary at Aerojet where she met her second husband, Keith Ridgway. They were married Aug. 16th, 1970. They had 41 years together when she became a widow in November of 2011.
Starting somewhere in her 40’s, Irma was constantly learning new ways to create beautiful things. She loved the fine arts. She practiced daily learning new medias and perfecting others such as beading, watercolors, toll painting, stained glass art, and quilting. She also became an avid collector of plates, tea cups, goblets, fine linens, and lithographs. She surrounded herself with beautiful items creating a beautiful, cozy home.
Irma had the gift of hospitality. If you were fortunate enough to visit her home, you left with a full tummy, a visual experience of all the beautiful items around her house, and a couple of really good belly laughs. She made strangers and friends alike, feel that they were very special to her.
One year after Keith passed away in 2011, Irma made a courageous decision to move to Phoenix, Arizona and live closer to family members in that area. At 81, she began creating a “new” home and lived independently for the next 6 years. In Phoenix, she became a faithful member of Paradise Springs Community Church, attended Bible Study Fellowship, attended advanced painting classes, went to Curves 3 times a week, and worked on her many home projects. She moved and stayed busy like an “Eveready” battery.
After a fall that resulted in a broken pelvis, Irma’s health declined quickly. She had congestive heart failure. She went into the hospital two times for palliative care. During the second visit she chose hospice and died 5 days later.
She passed on Christmas night at 10:34pm.
Irma will be remembered for her sense of humor. She laughed easily and mostly at herself. She made new friends wherever she went and stayed in touch with old friends of 61 years. She was grateful for her health, her family, and her lot in life. She loved to travel and learn new things. She never complained of pain or ailments. She was opinionated yet willing to accept other points of view. She loved FOX news and Jeopardy. And, from the age of 50 until her last breath, she will be remembered for carrying an unwavering love for Jesus Christ so that when her time came she was ready to meet Him face to face.
While she was in hospice, I pictured in my head the angels in heaven scurrying around putting the final touches on her new dwelling place. “Irma is on her way! We have an artist coming. She’ll help us decorate all the new dwellings up here!”
Thank you, Mom. You did well with what you were given and now we will remember and enjoy the good things like you modeled for us.