The People Who Touch Our Lives

A friend of mine died last night, a woman I have known since I was a teenager. She died at the age of 87, suffering from Parkinson’s Disease for close to 30 years, but up until about a year and a half ago still strong in spirit and even in physical strength more than one would expect. Her death has left me sad in a way that I cannot wholly define, bringing up so many reminders of how important her presence in my life was at one time, the impact it left on me.

I met her when I was 16. She was the mother of the guy I was dating, and was not so happy about the fact that we were dating and didn’t hesitate to hide it.

1977- Neither of us sure what to say...
1977- Neither of us sure what to say…

Eventually she warmed to me, and we got along pretty well. I dated her son for many years and became like part of the family. I remember having to attend a business party when I was 20 years old and couldn’t find something to wear. She told me to go look in her closet and pick something out. I had always loved her sense of style and fashion and couldn’t believe she was being so generous. Lucky for me we wore the same size. I borrowed a beautiful suit and blouse, which I can still picture today. A few years later my relationship with her son ended, and I didn’t see her again for about 10 years, at which point she told me she wished her son had married me. I laughed to myself thinking you just never know how some things will turn out, here is the woman who could barely look at me years ago and now she was saying she wished her son had married me.

We reconnected five years ago when her son came back to her home to live with her, right in my neighborhood. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer and I was helping him out every day. It was during this time we got to know each other again. We would sit in the afternoon on her deck and talk about the days when I dated her son, she spoke openly about how she treated me then, and how it pleased her that now we could sit together as friends. She shared some of her own struggles throughout her life, the difficulties in her marriage, with her son who was now sick. I was there with her when her son died in her home. A moment that will be forever ingrained in my memory. I was so afraid to to have to tell her, but when I did she said right away she wanted to see him. She looked at him and asked if I was sure he was gone. We had had many close calls during his time on hospice. I said I was sure, so she took his hand, said a prayer, and quietly left the room. Stoic and strong as always, not one to shed tears in public. Her strength palpable. Giving us all strength at that time.

This loss will not affect me on a daily basis, as she was not a part of it for many years now. But it has affected me on a much deeper level, bringing up and bringing back to me the memories of the impact she had on my life, that remain with me to this day as part of me and the person I became as an adult. I mourn the loss for the days I did spend with her every day of the week, helping her caregiver in her home. It points out the passage of time, another loss, though I remember the girl age 16 so vividly, the truth is 40 years have passed since then. Her death a stark reminder.

May she rest in peace.

2013 Happy To Be In Each Other's Company
2013 Happy To Be In Each Other’s Company

24 thoughts on “The People Who Touch Our Lives

  1. For me, these losses — which I think have actually ended — are the passing of an entire generation, signalling that now, we are the “older” generation. None of my older friends or family are still living. It’s a very strange feeling and more than a little scary.

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    • That is scary Marilyn- I remember my husband making that comment when his mother died- he and his brother said it was odd to feel now they were the “top” generation. We are very fortunate to still have many Aunts and Uncles in their high 80’s and 90’s-which still allows us to feel like “the younger generation” but the loss of someone who played such an important role during my youth is hard.

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  2. I knew it was your friends Mother when I started reading it, you had shared his story with me in a guest post. Lisa, I am sorry for your loss. I am glad you shared your and her story with us.

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  3. I think it’s wonderful that you stayed in contact (although distanced at times) with her even after so many years and that you two were able to be friends through everything. It’s amazing how one person can touch our lives so much and change it forever in their own small way. I am sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you.

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  4. This has been a rough year for you, hasn’t it? I am sorry for the loss but so happy your relationship ended on a good note. That really warms my heart. Love to you, Lisa.

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    • It does seem like I am always writing about death and loss doesn’t it? My brother , my girlfriend and now this friend. The writing down the words seems to help though. Thanks for listening ❤

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  5. These words you wrote touched my heart. How beautiful that you were able to reconnect with her. That you were there for her in many hard moments in her life. YOU are an amazing friend to her. I am so sorry for your loss. Hugs to you……

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  6. What a beautiful story and touching tribute to this woman. It seems the people who enter our lives early on, never seem to leave us. And if they do and re-enter, it feels as if they were never gone. I’m so glad you reconnected with her, even if some of those days were difficult. And I’m glad she let you know she was wrong about you. Whenever people from our youth pass away, we seem to lose a part of that time, a time only a select few were part of and are now no longer with us.

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    • George you expressed so well exactly what I am feeling. Your last two lines sum it up. Thank you so much. Seeing in writing this strange mix of emotions is so helpful

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  7. This is such a lovely post, Lisa. Beautiful photos and memories of how your lives have intertwined over forty years. So sad that she lost her son to cancer. I’m sure your presence was a great comfort to her.

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  8. Beautifully written and expressed. I’m sorry for your loss of this woman who has been in and out of your life, and in ways she may not have even known, taught you life lessons. You made an important difference in her life, and that is what we can best hope for as we age, I think. That we can make a difference, give out some love and a hug, ‘be there’ for others and help them in life’s passages.

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  9. that was avery touching tribute…. I’m very sad when I hear that people passed what are connected to a special part of my life… they belong to that happenings and when they are gone, the memory is no longer the same …

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