April in Glenwood: Emily’s legacy of love
I can understand the desire to become famous.
There’s the satisfaction of making a career out of what you love. The traveling to interesting work assignments and vacations to international destinations. The notoriety for having the talent to become famous in the first place.
These days that could be about anything.
Coming up in the news business, first as a sports reporter then arts and entertainment editor, I’ve routinely written about the more famous people dominating my beats. They could be the most talented football or tennis player. Or the most well-known of actors, artists, comics and musicians. I’ve covered people of all ages, races and creeds for both their accomplishments and struggles.
The latter is often required to make the former happen.
Admittedly, it’s the most talked-about of the athletes, artists and Internet sensations who receive the most media attention. Whether its the natural talent to hit notes high enough to break a glass or perfected ability to throw a no-hitter in the pouring rain, headline-worthy success can come in many forms. It’s been that way since the time of celebrated gladiators and beloved opera singers. But it’s also the everyday champions of humanitarian causes and caregivers of seniors and those in need who should share in the limelight.
We need more of them in our world.
Last Tuesday, we lost just that type of person. A motherly role model for me who cared the most about others rather than herself, especially her family. She never hesitated to make those in her presence feel loved. A person I should have written about in this column years ago but know she would blush about it.
Seriously, she could turn pink in the cheeks like no other.
I really got to know Emily Espich when my best friend, Megan, started dating her middle son, Joe. He was a friend of mine from high school who I had worked with during college at our hometown newspaper. Megan first made his heart flutter when he came to my graduation party, and they played cards together. That would be the beginning of their own love story highlighted by 21 years of marriage (as of today), two funny, polite and motivated teenaged boys, and visits to more national baseball parks than I can count on one hand. To say they’re stoked the Chicago Cubs are finally in the World Series again would be an understatement.
Go, Cubs, go.
With a husband and three sons, as well as three daughters-in-law and grandkids, who are die-hard Cubbie fans, Emily also rooted for the infamous cursed baseball team. Megan said the Espich matriarch would sit nervously in her chair with a tissue during many games that came down to the wire in the 49 years she was married to Dave. When the Cubs beat the Dodgers last Saturday night in Game 6 of the Championship Series, clinching the team’s first National League pennant since 1945, Megan knew Emily was watching.
All superstitions aside, 1945 was the year Emily was born.
Emily was not only a baseball fan, but liked watching the Indianapolis Colts as a season ticket holder. She loved flowers and bright colors, and made a mean cookie. Emily always had Chex Mix for the kids, and added cashews because they were her oldest and first grandson Cameron’s favorite. She had many friends as part of my hometown’s American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, and they came to show their respect at her service in droves.
The line was so lengthy, we waited at least an hour and a half to share our condolences.
Emily spent her life helping those with hearing disabilities — her parents, Edward and Lois, were deaf — by learning sign language from birth. In her education career, she was a sign interpreter for Lawrence, Indiana, schools, and helped anyone in need of signing help and work.
She was honestly one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
It was evident Emily was a big proponent of her sons, and she supported them and their own children in all their pursuits. She was often in the crowd at games, and in the audience at her oldest and youngest sons’ musical performances. One memory Emily’s daughter-in-law Andrea shared with me, in recalling her humble and caring nature, still makes her chuckle.
It definitely made Emily blush.
A few years back, Andrea’s husband, Dave, was playing in a band, and his parents loved to be there for him. After a few Captain Morgan and Diet Coke mixers, Emily decided to request a song. Just as the crowd became quiet, they heard the sweet, quiet Emily yell, “Play ‘Highway to Hell’!”
“Not realizing the crowd was going to be focused on her,” Andrea said. “She was so embarrassed, and we always laugh at that memory. We always had so much fun doing whatever.”
That’s a talent I’d rather make me famous, especially with my family.
April E. Allford is pulling for the Cubs, just like Emily. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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