Lisa, Roberto, Alex, Erika, Anthony, Natalia Rubilar posted a condolence
Monday, January 21, 2019We send out deepest sympathy to Priscilla's family. Because we were traveling, we didn’t learn of Priscilla’s death until over a week afterwards. It seemed impossible. We had received a beautiful Christmas card from her just before we’d left the country. She’d been a part of our lives for eighteen years, and was like a third grandmother to our children. I can honestly say, she is one of the most amazing people I’ve known. In so many ways, she was an example of how life should be lived: with verve, intentionality, curiosity, resilience, kindness and gratitude. Priscilla was a tireless community organizer, who loved nothing more than a block party. She knew almost every neighbor by name, and knew much about their lives as well. She had many close friends in her circle of caring. We lived next door to her for over ten years. She loved our four children, not in a generic, "they’re so cute" kind of way, but as individuals she was interested in talking with. They all enjoyed going over to her house just to chat, or to replace a light bulb or to read aloud. Erika remembers reading to her from a physics textbook. Natalia read to her The Seven Little Peppers and How They Grew. That was Priscilla! Natalia admits that Priscilla was the one who taught her to light matches at a young age. Priscilla trusted her to do so responsibly. Anthony recalls taking a milk over to her house (she did her own shopping on foot at the nearby co-op, but milk was heavy to carry, so we would often pick some up for her). He would find her with tea on the stove, the radio playing her favorite news channel, and “always so happy to see me.” He recalls gathering green beans and tomatoes for her from her garden, and how “she never failed to be grateful.” Priscilla demonstrated to the kids how she made her unique stencil stamps, with which she made her famous cards. She showed them the puppets she’d made when she was a teenager, and many other treasures upstairs and down. Natalia remembers the colorful telephone wires that Priscilla showed her how to turn into artistic creations. She still has some of that wire. Erika says she can see Priscilla clearly in her mind’s eye, waving cheerfully from across the fence. It was hard for Priscilla when she had to stop driving, but she knew when it was time. As I recall, it was when she almost didn’t see a pedestrian in the crosswalk. That was it. She was not going to risk others’ safety for her convenience. Nevertheless, she kept her car, which made it possible for friends and family to drive her places occasionally—and also proved helpful to us. Whenever our cars were on the fritz, she generously offered to let us drive hers. Once our family packed up and set out on a camping trip in two of our vehicles, only to have one car break down half way there. After leaving the car in the repair shop, we made it back home, spent the night, and set out again the next day—in Priscilla’s car. We blessed her name during that whole wonderful weekend. Into her late eighties, Priscilla rode a bus to the gym and worked out several times a week. When she could no longer do that, she continued to walk around the neighborhood wearing dark glasses and a pastel-colored hat. Alex remembers her as a “prodigious walker.” With her two walking sticks, fanny pack and purposeful stride, she looked like she was off to explore Antarctica; and in often-frigid upstate New York, she might as well have been. She didn’t let a little ice deter her. But how she loved New York springs! She loved to hang sheets on the clothes line to dry in the breeze. The budding of her tulips and irises and the blossoming of her roses was a joy to her. She grew rhubarb outside the kitchen door, and frequently harvested a stalk to whip up a batch of rhubarb pancakes. She ate no white flour, but reveled in eating sweets in moderation. She especially loved chocolate, the darker the better. She was a literary maven, always learning, always reading—or listening to books on tape. She held poetry recitations in her home. I remember one in particular where one of her acquaintances (I think she met him at the gym) recited the entire volume of T.S. Eliot’s Cats from memory. When she learned that he had that unusual ability, she could have kept it to herself, but instead invited the entire neighborhood to come hear him. She dearly loved her family: her daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren. She loved the vacations she spent with them at a lake house they returned to many times. We often heard of the things her children and grandchildren were doing in their lives. She was very proud of them. For many years, Priscilla and her daughters worked hard to preserve her eyesight. After she lost the sight in one eye due to pemphigoids, she said her daughters insisted that future treatment take place at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. To that end, every so often she would fly out of Albany airport, be met in Baltimore by one of her daughters, spend the night at a hotel, visit the doctor the next morning, then fly home. Sometimes we had the honor of driving her to or picking her up from the airport. She was always vastly appreciative of that small favor. During those drives, she often spoke of how thankful she was to her daughters for their efforts, and to her husband, Warren, for making sure she was well provided for, making it possible for her to receive good medical care. For someone as strong and independent as Priscilla, I know it was bitter to grow increasingly infirm. But she demonstrated how to face the inevitability of aging with courage. I won’t say I never heard her complain (is there really such a person?) but I always heard her express optimism and appreciation for the good in her life. As Erika recalls, she had a special way of declaring, “Wonderful!” at any hint of good news. Her go-to phrase for every occasion, in every circumstance: “I’m SO FORTUNATE.” Receiving shots in her eyeballs to slow the dimming of her sight? “I’m so fortunate to have good doctors.” No longer able to drive? “I’m so fortunate to be on a bus route.” Even during our last phone conversation she said, “I’m so fortunate to have daughters who take care of me. I’m so fortunate to have aides who are so good to me.” And she deeply appreciated the volunteer who came to the nursing home to teach poetry. To the end, she was a genuine poet, essayist and fiction writer. I have a large folder of her writings in my filing cabinet. Her last letter was a beautiful description of her childhood home in Jamaica Plain, Boston. Priscilla was a person of great faith. She meditated daily. Although we didn’t share a religious creed, she asked us more than once to pray with her. She told me that a neighbor (of a different faith from her own) had confirmed her belief in the after-life. Not by preaching about it, but by stopping by her house on his way there. She told of feeling a warm, peaceful feeling envelop her one afternoon. The sensation stayed for a few minutes, then moved away. Later she found out that the neighbor had died at just that time. She was sure he’d come to say good-bye. Priscilla told this story in a no-nonsense, unsentimental way, as she always did when she talked of her life. She was the kind of person who didn’t suffer fools, and had no desire for hand-holding or commiseration. She simply loved life; she loved people; she loved ideas and physics and flowers and puppets and poetry. During the past seven-plus years, we have lived hundreds of miles from her, and Priscilla passed away while we were out of the country, so I thought it was a little too far for her to travel to say good-bye. But now that I think about it, we were at the beach in Chile on the day she died. I remembered how she’d talked of her trips to the beaches of Cape Cod when she was a girl, and how she missed seeing the sea. And I concluded that maybe some of the wonder that had filled my heart while watching the waves crash onto the Chilean beach was a farewell message from Priscilla. Or maybe she’d already shared what she needed to through the eighteen years of our friendship. Still, Planet Earth is a little dimmer today than yesterday. How we will miss knowing you are in the world, Priscilla.
Marcia Maurycy and Bill Hahnenberger posted a condolence
Friday, January 18, 2019Priscilla Brighty was such and important member of our Niskayuna community. She was our neighbor, friend, intellectual colleague, and confidant during all the years that we lived on Regent Street. Priscilla always brought all new members of our Regent Street community into the midst of involvements by hosting get togethers to introduce the new to the old. These lovely social events with tea, punch and cookies not only honored the new in the neighborhood but brought everyone together. Priscilla's wonderful poetry meetings were another event that we looked forward to and enjoyed .Sitting in her living room silently absorbing the words brought connections to new found friends. The many days that we just visited each other and sat and talked about alternative living styles, the Amish, the Shakers, the Quakers and the many challenges in life remain vivid in our memories. Priscilla loved education and learning, integrating them into her life and never letting go. She loved reading and sharing new ideas with all of us. She was always exploring new ideas and wanted dialogue about them. Even when Priscilla's eyesight failed her she became an avid books on tape listener and we shared many titles that we enjoyed. Priscilla was an extension to our family. She watched our children grow up and never tired hearing about their adventures. She loved her family immensely and always shared her adventures with us. Our sincere condolences to every member of her family. Priscilla was very important to us and will be missed immensely. Marcia Maurycy, Bill, Maura and Treu Hahnenberger
Ryan, Lindsay, Sophie and William Vaughan lit a candle
Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Jane Gray posted a condolence
Wednesday, January 16, 2019Priscilla was a friend back in Schenectady, New York. I met her in a carving adult ed class. She invited the class back to her house to continue when the class ended. We were friends since, that was 20 years ago. She was taking Physics classes at the time and I really enjoyed our conversations over the years. She became my massage client eventually and I got to see her every other week to massage her to keep her legs strong and limber so she wouldn't fall and could climb her stairs, and talk of course. It's interesting the people you make a connection with in life. We had nothing in common except an interest in life and people. We would share Perecca's pizzza and cupcakes after the massage when I drove her home on a couple occasions. This was not usual food for either of us but boy did we enjoy it. Priscilla was still sharp as a tack when we last spoke a month ago or less. I really enjoyed her last Christmas letter and told her so in a card. I will miss this amazing woman. It was very sad to see her loose her independence and age. Her spirit will live on in those she touched. I met Katherine and Janet I think at my families camp at Sacandaga and Barbara at her house when she was packing to move. My condolences to you all and Elaine also.
Judy Baldwin posted a condolence
Wednesday, January 16, 2019My deepest condolences to the family. Priscilla was a friend of my Dad's, Bill Baldwin, consequently, my sister and myself became friends with Priscilla. We enjoyed Priscilla's friendship visiting with her at her home after my Dad's passing. She was always a joy to be with and appreciated her friendship. It is with sadness that I received Janet's letter as I had planned to make the trip over to see Priscilla in the Spring. Thank you Janet. Priscilla, you will be missed, but so glad for you on your "home coming".
Vladia C Boniewski posted a condolence
Monday, January 14, 2019I was sorry to read of Priscilla's passing. I first met Priscilla when I was Executive Director of the Schenectady County Community College Foundation. She came to my office to make a donation and that started a friendship that I miss. She was so smart, funny, energetic and personable--a delight! I was so impressed that instead of auditing math and science courses for free as a senior citizen, she was paying tuition and taking courses for credit! Her concern for the younger students in her class was also impressive. My condolences to her family. Vladia Boniewski SCCC Emeritus
Lorraine VanDerWerken posted a condolence
Monday, January 14, 2019I am so sorry to hear about Priscilla. She was a wonderful, kind woman and I was lucky to have known her. I'll certainly miss her and will never forget her.
Jan Rose posted a condolence
Sunday, January 13, 2019Priscilla sure knew how to make the most of life. I first knew her and Warren when I moved to Schenectady in 1976 and became active with Literacy Volunteers. They both were just delightful people to know. Generous, caring, active. I loved their Christmas cards and Priscilla’s continuing Christmas letters after Warren passed away and she and I saw less of each other. So full of activities, travels, learning, and good cheer. A one-of-a-kind woman for sure. My sincere condolences to the daughters and families about whom she spoke so often and so proudly. — Jan Rose, now of Burke, VA (but still reading the Gazette)
The family of Priscilla P. Brighty uploaded a photo
Friday, January 11, 2019