Carmichael, CA

Marie Elizabeth, collector of hearts, teaches perfect love

Carmen Micsa


She continues to spread the love even after leaving this world
Photo byLindsy Marie Emerson, her daughter
“We are all a feather on the breath of God.” — Marie Elizabeth Emerson

When I first met Marie Elizabeth Emerson at California Family Fitness in Carmichael back in 2005, or so, she looked like “sunlight slicing the dark,” as Rumi said in one of his poems. 

Marie Elizabeth splashed and dashed around the pool like a mesmerizing mermaid. She slashed the water with her long, thin arms and kicked around with her skinny but strong legs. She stopped at the edge of the pool to see who was in the next lane. 

Marie Elizabeth immediately lifted her snorkeling goggles and greeted me: “Happy day!”

Her greeting made me smile, as I was a new member, trying to figure things out around the club. I am not a great swimmer but I have always felt like a fish since I learned to swim when I was about eight years old. Seeing Marie Elizabeth swim with such pure joy and abandonment inspired me to keep exercising my body, especially because I was pregnant with my first child and knew that water was good for me and my baby.

Not long after I gave birth to my son, I was fortunate to meet Lindsy Marie Emerson, Marie Elizabeth’s daughter. She worked at California Family Fitness at the front desk, mainly in the kids club, where I started to take Alex once he turned one year old. With a radiant smile and inner kindness, I could tell that Lindsy was a loving daughter, as she told me that Marie Elizabeth was her mom.

Over the years, my paths intertwined with the ones of Marie Elizabeth and Lindsy Marie at California Family Fitness.
Photo byLindsy Marie Emerson, her daughter

While Lindsy was watching Alex at first and then Sophia, who was born 19 months after I had our son, Marie Elizabeth and I swam in our lanes, as well as hung around in the spa. We shared life’s impressions, as well as talked with love about our children. I asked Marie Elizabeth parenting questions and valued her wisdom. She always offered the best and most loving answers to anything I asked. Marie Elizabeth radiated warmth and love, which strengthened my desire to be the best mother, wife, professional, and friend that I could be.

Marie Elizabeth’s life and background

“Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” — Rumi

I agree with Rumi: Marie Elizabeth had hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground with the way she interacted with everyone around her. 

Mary Elizabeth Cusack, her maiden name, was the youngest of three siblings. Her mother Helen Cusack was a teacher and her father John Cusack was an engineer, who worked on the air force base in Alameda. 

Marie Elizabeth graduated high school at 16, after which she went to work for one of the largest trucking firms at the time, P.I.E. doing clerical work. She met her first husband, Paul Quistguard in her early 20s — it was a short marriage, but full of love. They remained friends over the years till her last breath. 

Marie Elizabeth returned to school at the age of 27 to get her degree in Mental Health. She graduated with honors from UC Davis in 1976. She continued her education and got her graduate degree at California Sacramento State University. 

Around that time Marie Elizabeth met Robert Emerson. They were both working for a company called Psyche West. They got married in 1979. Lindsy Marie was born in 1981. She is the only child. 

In the early 90s, Marie Elizabeth went to work as the primary counselor for Loretto High School. She loved the school, the students, and the staff. She created many magical friendships that lasted. After the school closed its doors in 2009, Marie Elizabeth worked for CHW, now Dignity Health for 13 years until she retired at the age of 75. She loved her job, being able to help others and spread such love and joy. 

Marie Elizabeth was also an artist. She loved to doodle, color, and just express herself. She was also a writer, who left behind 10 bins of her writings since she was a child. Her grandmother taught her the importance of a pen and paper. She never stopped. It was her way to express anything and everything.

“She had a thirst for knowledge and healing. She was constantly reading, her favorite thing to do was borrow books and DVDs from the library,” Lindsy noted nostalgically.
Photo byA friend, named unknown

Marie Elizabeth’s love of hearts

“I want you to have this heart reminding you are loved: living in your body, living your light, dancing your joy, and flying your wings.” — Marie Elizabeth Emerson in her thank you card to me. 

In 2021, Marie Elizabeth told me that she was ready to buy a house and that she would not want anyone else to help her but me. I have been a real estate broker for 23 years and love to help my clients with honesty, professionalism, and the highest integrity. 

I was touched and excited to show homes to both Marie Elizabeth and Lindsy, who was there for moral support. 

In less than a month, Marie Elizabeth realized that the homes were too expensive for her budget and felt bad to cancel purchasing a home with me. I assured her that it was perfectly fine. That’s when she gave me a heart-shaped green rock and wrote a beautiful card about what I meant to her and why she gave me the heart.

Two years later on May 12, 2023, Marie Elizabeth passed away peacefully at the age of 77 at Eskaton Village Carmichael, and that’s when I found out from Lindsy that her mother was a collector of hearts. 

Lindsy reminisced that her mom carried glass hearts with her wherever she went to always spread love. She would fan some options out for someone and let them take what spoke to them. She would then have them hold it in their hand, her hand over theirs, and would say: “The heart you hold in your hand is you. Your time on Earth. Until you are 99 years old and in your rocking chair, you are perfectly imperfect. You don’t have to have it all together. YOU DO HAVE PERFECT LOVE.”

When Lindsy cleaned out her mom’s apartment, she gathered every heart — large, small, and imperfect. Lindsy has 12–15 shoe boxes packed with hearts that she plans on counting and handing them out at Marie Elizabeth’s celebration of life for others to take with them. 

“I want her love to continue to spread over us even after she has left this world.” — Lindsy Marie Emerson

Besides being survived by Lindsy, Marie Elizabeth also left behind her beloved cat Rumi, named after her favorite poet. Rumi found a new home with Laura, a kind-hearted and loving Eskaton resident.
Rumi looks outside the window of his new homePhoto byLaura, Eskaton Village resident
One of Marie Elizabeth’s final musings in her journal: “Lindsy is birthing me into my death as I birthed her into life,” which gave Lindsy comfort and love to be able to support her mother.

May Mary Elizabeth Emerson rest in peace and continue to spread love. What an honor to have been swimming in and out of life until she became water. 

“In a boat down a fast-running creek,
it feels like trees on the bank
are rushing by. What seems
to be changing around us
is rather the speed of our craft
leaving this world.” — Rumi

Carmen Micsa is the Broker/CEO of Dynamic Real Estate, Inc. She is also a published author of poetry, short form, and a tennis book. For more poetic musings and short-form philosophy, please check out my new book, Inspirational Signs for More Sunshine in Your Life and Morsels of Love, A Book of Poetry, and Short-Form, published in 2021. You can also order directly from my website to receive an autographed copy.

If you like podcasts, please listen to Seeds of Sunshine, a multigenerational podcast that Carmen Micsa started together with her daughter in 2022.

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CEO/Broker of Dynamic Real Estate, Inc., business owner featured in the Forbes magazine for my outstanding service to my clients. Mom, wife, a published author, Medium writer, poet, marathon runner, rapper, and tennis player.

Carmichael, CA

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