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A Fond Farewell

I’m not very good with death.  In fact, I’m not good at all with it.  I can’t cope with the thought of my own mortality, and therefore am extremely tuned in to every little change in my body.  Some people call that hypochondria.  Others call it neurosis.  A friend of mine recently referred to it as Judyism… not to be confused with the religion, although I am Jewish.

I received the news this morning that a very dear friend of mine, and of my mother’s passed away.  Howie was 87, and some would say he lived a long and fruitful life.  So what?  It still hurts those whom he left behind.  I’m still devastated by the loss of a man who came to be thought of as my second father.  (By not only me, but by Howie himself, and by his daughter, who refers to me as her sister from another mister).

So, I hurt.  I grieve.  And that’s okay.  That’s how I feel, and I always tell people that feelings are the one thing that are entirely your own, and nobody has the right to tell you how to feel.

A long time ago, I came across the poem below on a greeting card, although I cannot recall the author, or even if there was one to whom it was attributed.  I share it often; not only when people have lost a friend through death, but when they are hurting because they have been wronged by someone who they thought was their friend.

Ships that Pass in the Night

There are those who pass like ships in the night,
Who meet for a moment, then sail out of sight.
With never a backwards glance of regret;
Folks we know briefly then quickly forget.

Then there are those friends who sail together,
Through quiet waters and stormy weather.
Helping each other through joy and through strife;
And they are the kind that give meaning to life.

Howie came into my life at an extremely critical time, and therefore, gave that “real meaning” to my life, of which the poem speaks.  It was shortly after my own father passed, I had only been working at a nursing home for a little over a year, and I was struggling with a very personal issue.  When he came to volunteer there, he pretty much fixed EVERYTHING, simply by being my friend.  I was lost, and he found me.

His compassion, his sense of humor and his lust for life somehow overshadowed it all.  His overwhelming and undying support of my endeavors, both personal and professional, helped me unfold into the person I was supposed to be.  He made me laugh when I needed to, and he listened, sometimes for hours, when I needed an ear.

He was, in essence, filling the role my father had played, without even knowing it. When I was little, my father would hold me up with me sitting on his shoulders at a parade, so I could see. Into my late fifties, it was Howie who held me up so I could see.

So today, I bid you a fond farewell, Howie.  May you bring to heaven as much joy as you created here on earth.  Rest in Peace.

 

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Posted by on February 23, 2017 in General, Phase 2

 

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Women Know Women

Women know women.  Most women would probably agree with that statement, for a lot of reasons.  On this particular day, however, I feel compelled to write about it.

My friend Beth, whom I met nearly twenty years ago, was one of those people who could see right through you, and read you instantly.  We met on my first day of work at a facility where she had already been employed for over ten years.  I was there to fill out paperwork only, but she invited me to a luncheon for which she had an extra ticket.  During those three hours together, we learned that we had much in common.  We were avid sports fans, liberal democrats, University of Florida College of Journalism Graduates and “foodies.”   She and I even lived only five houses away in the same neighborhood, albeit at different times in our lives.

We also learned our differences.  I love theater and music; she wasn’t a big fan.  She adored discussing politics, and because of the great divide in my household, I did not.  She collected Beanie Babies to distraction (or at least I thought so, until she gave me one named “Hope” when my Dad was dying); I collected camels and recipes.

After working with Beth for a very short time, she knew me better than I knew myself.  In fact, she asked me a question, after working with me only five weeks, which floored me.  She said, “Was your father very hard on you?”  Yes, indeed, he was.  I still don’t know fully how she knew that, even after years of pondering.   I can only surmise that it was because of the one great difference between Beth and me.

Beth Amy was a strong, confident, out-going and outspoken woman.  She lived her life on her terms.  In fact, when she first took ill, she told me that no matter what the outcome, she had no regrets.

I, on the other hand, until most recently, was far from confident and out-spoken.  I had a severe problem with self-confidence and self-esteem.  Beth probably figured out my personality flaws were a result of a flawed father-daughter relationship.  I know that now, and understand my father’s path and accept that people do the best can with what they’ve got.  Both Beth and my father would be happy to see the woman into whom I’ve unfolded.

Besides teaching me almost everything I know about Special Events, Beth taught me how to be flexible, to “punt,” as she put it, to stand up for myself, and to not be so hard on myself.  She taught me how to laugh at myself.  She also taught how to live with myself.

Beth passed away this morning, after a valiant clash with cancer.  Beth knew me.  I believe she loved me.  I loved her.

Because women know women.

 

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2017 in General, Phase 2

 

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Mindsight vs. Hindsight – Dear Beth, Thank you.

It took me a long time to learn that whatever decisions we make in life, are ones that we, alone, must live with.  There may be lessons learned from those decisions.  Whether large or small, physical, financial or emotional, there are often ramifications or consequences.

I had to make one of those decisions yesterday.  In short, I had to decide whether or not to visit an old friend in the hospital or not.  I should clarify it to say that she was not just in the hospital, but in a nursing home, in Hospice care.  She’s dying.  In fact, she was, at the time I saw her yesterday, fairly close to the end.

My decision to visit her wasn’t an easy one.  Seventeen years ago, I watched my father die a slow, agonizing death over the span of three and a half months.  I visited him nearly every day on my lunch hour, through the compassion of my employer at the time, and by so doing, I watched him die just a little bit every day.  The result of this experience left extremely stunning visual images in my head… images that took me years to replace with the sweet memories I have of him today.

I fought with myself as to whether I wanted to do the right thing, say my final goodbyes and offer love and support to her beautiful family.  If I chose to do that, the last memory I would create in my mind would be that one of her as she is today.  If I chose not to go, and do the wrong thing, it would have been selfish, leaving me with vibrant, full-of-life memories of my dear friend. It would have also left me with a raging case of guilt and remorse.

Hindsight is twenty-twenty.  I don’t want to ever have to look back again, and feel as though I didn’t give all of myself to the people who mean the most to me.  I want my “mindsight” to be remorse-free and guilt-free.  With all that being said, I did visit my friend.  I don’t even know if she knew I was there.

I know I was there.

I love you, Beth.  I always will.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2017 in General, Uncategorized

 

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Why Do We Never Get An Answer?

Forgive me for stealing lyrics, once again, for a title to a blog. It just seems so perfect when pondering the question as to why, when I turn on the local news, I constantly hear about people killing each other over drugs or money or domestic issues, with absolutely no regard for the sanctity of human life.

Yet, I among many others live in a world, right now, of total devastation and grief over the untimely death of someone who lived an altogether unselfish, altruistic, noble, zealous, generous, compassionate, and beautiful life. This person died way too soon, unexpectedly, and long before he was finished his work here on earth.

My question, although I’ve been told a thousand times not to ask it, is why?

This is now the second time within five short months that we, as a family, have observed a family close to us, lose their sons, who we felt were part of our family. My husband and I watched each one of our children lose one of their closest friends at a very young age. One was ill, and the other was sudden.

My mother’s answer is, and always has been, “their number was up.” She is clearly a fatalist. If she believed anything else, she couldn’t have the positive outlook that she does. Even the mothers of these two young men are trying as hard as they can to maintain their faith.

I cannot. I do not understand why. As a Jew, I just went through what is known as the “Days of Awe,” or the High Holy Days, when we ask forgiveness and ask to be written and sealed in the book of life for another year. I asked for forgiveness. I heard a Rabbi talk about the fact that throughout the year, we say to ourselves, “I’m a good person, but on the one Day of Atonement, we ask, am I a good person?”

I’m beginning to think it doesn’t matter whether you are or you aren’t a good person. I am beginning to think there is a random chaos going on. I spent my lifetime following the rules. I’ve always thought of myself as a good guy. Now, I don’t think it matters if you drive up the median to beat traffic, or whether or not you give back the extra change the cashier gave you, or return the wallet you found full of cash. Now it doesn’t matter if you hold the elevator for someone, or help an older person with a heavy door, or let someone merge into traffic. Now, it doesn’t mean a thing if you share your spare change with a homeless person or give money to a charity.

G-D, if there is a G-D, doesn’t seem to delineate. He steals the thugs, criminals and thieves as well as the angels, children and good guys. And we never get an answer to that particular question. Because there is none. And if there is none, then what does it even matter what we do here on earth?

All I know is that I made a promise. I promised to Live Like Devon. That means, for those unfortunates who didn’t have him in their lives, I will, I guess, continue to be me. (That was my last advice to him. I told him to “continue to be you… that’s all I want”). I’m going to give someone a hug today… do a random act of kindness… forgive a grudge… and reach out to a total stranger.

Rest in Peace Devon Grimmé

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2015 in General, Phase 2

 

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