It is not easy trying to summarize who Lee Steiner was and how much she meant, and still means, to all of those fortunate enough to know her.
Many times since she passed I have recalled a favorite moment exchanged between us. Most are non fantastical. Nothing in and of itself outstanding. They were mundane in the close and comfortable feeling you get when you know you are home, warm and safe. Like watching Book T.V. and listening to her debate hot topics with Chris. Or laughing with Breda and her friends from the living room. The smell of lasagna filling the house. She sure knew how to make lasagna.
Or Swedish meatballs on my birthday because they were my favorite. And that amazing fruit salad she would make when Chris and I came to visit before we moved in with her. (I later learned it was the 3 cups of sugar she added!) And it was the time she drove to Connecticut to watch Sarah in her high school play. Those moments meant a lot to me.
There were the other moments too; the funny and unexpected ones. Once during the middle of the night she fell in the bathroom. Luckily, we heard her fall and helped her quickly. But it was still scary. So Kim purchased a doorbell alarm so Chris and I could be alerted if Lee needed help. The idea worked like this: when Lee pressed the button on the string around her neck, an alarm in our bedroom would ring. LOUDLY! And I do mean LOUDLY!
Not long after receiving the alarm to wear, 5 of Lee’s closest friends came to visit. Chris and I worked from home and we were both at our desks in separate bedrooms working. As Breda would later recount to us, the conversation went like this: Lee leaned into the group of friends and said, “watch this”; she then pressed the alarm.
Breda said they could hear both Chris and I crash away from our desks and come running. After witnessing us bump into each other in the hallway, panting our way into the living room, Lee turned and said, “oh, I must have pressed it by mistake.” All Chris and I know was that 6 women were in the living room laughing so hard they couldn’t even look at us. They were literally in tears.
And the time Chris and I came home after picking up dinner to find the second car parked crooked in the driveway. Chris asked me when I drove the car and why I parked it the way I did. Well, I didn’t drive the car or park it crooked in the drive way. We bantered and argued about it into the living room. Lee said nothing. A few months later Lee admits to Chris that she had driven the car. She wanted a pack of cigarettes and thought she could drive herself to get some. She realized quickly she could not and pulled back into the drive. When Chris asked her why she didn’t say something, she replied that she didn’t want to get in trouble like Donna did.
And then the time Chris and I couldn’t find Lee anywhere. She wasn’t in her chair, in the bathroom, or on the deck. We start to panic. Finally we go out to the garage and there she was, in a chair, smoking. She turned around to us and said “don’t judge”. We didn’t.
Lee was the most fair minded, non judgmental person I have ever known. Perhaps this is why so many people were drawn to her. She accepted you. Warts and all.
I admire so much about her. I admire the love she had for her children, grandchildren, and the gang she babysat. I admire how she raised her children to be kind, intelligent, and loving adults. I admire her sense of humor. I admire how selfless, patient, compassionate, and caring she was.
And I miss her. Everyday.
We have been blessed by her love and grace. And our lives are better for knowing her.