Fall is in the air and that always heralds new beginnings for me. I get antsy thinking about projects I want to do, and need to firm up the plans I have been scheming and dreaming about all summer. Because "my eyes are always bigger than my stomach" it helps to make lists and then begin to anticipate the delicious feeling I get when I can cross something off the list. So let's get started!
1. Finish C's heritage scrapbook. I have been working on this for more than 5 years so
it deserves to be at the top of the list!
2. Sew B's Advent calendar. Complete by Thanksgiving!
3. Commit to a timetable for the bathroom remodel project
4. Car shop. Safety first.
5. Put a deposit on the Rick Steve's Eastern Europe trip for May- June, 2015. I think
Berlin should be the starting point.
I saw the picture first. Just two smiling friends on a typical Facebook post. It wasn't until I read the comments that I knew those happy faces were from another time and that today was a very sad day. Later I learned that one was a 30 something mother of 3 young children who had struggled 4 long years with breast cancer before losing her life to that dread disease. All the ice bucket challenges in the world can't comfort us in the face of another person dying so young from any disease.
For me, it's a flashback 35 years and the sad realization that even after all this time we are still losing our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends to breast cancer. Kathy, one of the first friends of my newly married life years ago, died after living with breast cancer for 5 years. At that age, friends come more slowly but more intensely into your life and they stay longer - lifelong we hope. And when they die the loss is even greater and even scarier because it reminds us how vulnerable we all are, how fleeting life can be for all of us. The grieving is overwhelming and the missing never goes away.
I didn't know this young woman - or her heartbroken young husband or the 3 small children who can't possibly comprehend their mother's absence. But I do know the friend pictured with her and I do feel the pain she feels today at the death of her friend. In time, some memories of their friendship will fade but the best ones will become even brighter and she will slowly find comfort and peace - and gratitude for the time they did have as friends.
But it mattered. Last week when I visited dad I was making light conversation. It might be light conversation, but actually it is hard work because advancing age is robbing him of even more things like his hearing, and many days he is weak from the effects of his worsening COPD, heart valve failure and reoccurring anemia. Most days he seems happy to just sit and squeeze my hand during our visits, not sure who is comforting whom, but this day he wanted to talk and we were reminiscing about his gardens of years past and how much we both enjoyed the foods of the late summer season. We talked about how he and mother canned fruits and vegetables and he seemed happy that we are growing tomatoes this year, and enjoying our first harvest. Someone had brought him a beautiful tomato from their garden that morning and he was enjoying eating it out of hand, the juice running down his chin. That's when the talk turned to peaches and I told him that I have been enjoying the wonderful Alberta peaches from Colorado. His eyes lit up and he looked so joyfully thoughtful as he talked about how much my mother loved those peaches - and my grandmother too. They always thought those peaches to be the best of the best and dad reminded me that the Alberta peach season is short and he would really like it if I would be sure to bring him one on my next visit.
The distance between us is only 90 miles and I know the times I have left to visit with him are numbered. Still there are days when I am torn between my need to be the "good daughter" and my desire to attend to the things of my daily life. I felt that way yesterday. And then I saw a Colorado peach sitting on my kitchen counter when I started my morning coffee. Unblemished and perfectly ripe, it even had a discernible fragrance. I know immediately that it ( and I ) had a mission for the day. He looked so tired and alone among the IV poles, cords and monitors when I entered his hospital room. We greeted each other and I got an update on his condition but it wasn't until I pulled the peach from my bag and set it on his bed tray that I got the smile and the light in his eyes that I had come for.
In Brownies and Girl Scouts we sang a little song "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold". I would say our recent trip to France had both. Rick and Diane are lifelong friends - the four of us actually went on our first dates together in high school, 50 years ago! Our new friends, Jim and Judy enriched our trip with their wonderful spirit of adventure and their ability to laugh at any situation. There is a lot of down time in travel - that "hurry up, and wait" mode and Jim was always ready with a story, or an observation that added meaning, and levity to the moment. We look forward to having them in our lives as new friends.