Saturday, October 25, 2008

Goodbye, Mary . . . Blog Your Blessings Sunday

If you care to join us acknowledging our blessings go here: Blue Panther

Maybe not all my readers know but I am a senior citizen, a young one but one all the same. A little over a year ago I moved to this apartment building complex for seniors. Eight months ago, I met Mary. She was walking the halls, investigating community rooms on the 9th floor where we have a kitchen for potlucks, a dining hall for coffee hours and special events (usually involving food), a game room, a computer room, 2 cable TV rooms and the laundry room. You notice that I mentioned the most important place first? But, I digress. . .

It was a Thursday night. I had never seen her before but I decided to introduce myself and see if she was new or just someone I hadn't met yet . . . after all, I had only been here a few months. I don't often do this as I am a shy person. She was new that very day and her grand daughter who was 9 years old was with her, staying the weekend. We visited a little while and then I told her I would drop by and pick her (and grand daughter) up for BINGO the following night. Thus began a new, close friendship neither of us had thought we would be making at this time in our lives.

I showed her how to use the bus and we went to the Farmer's Market even tho it rained that first Saturday. She continued coming to BINGO on Friday nights even when her grand daughter wasn't visiting. We sat together and learned about each others lives like good friends do. She even showed up for a couple potlucks.

Then one day she didn't come to the Mother's Day potluck and I took her a plate of food and stayed for a visit. That's when she told me about her doctor appointment. Before I knew her, she had had breast cancer and had one removed. She told me they never told her to come back for further checkups and when you get older, sometimes you don't care to bother anymore BUT her daughter insisted she get a clean bill of health since she was living on her own again so she made her a doctor appointment.

It had not been good news. The cancer had spread and they gave her 'til Christmas to live, saying it was too late for her. What kind of cancer doctor doesn't have their receptionist call and tell her to make another appointment just to make sure everything was okay after the breast surgery? According to Mary, this one didn't and she thought that was the end of it. Actually, I think she wanted to believe it and ignored the appointments she should have made to not allow cancer to spread again.

I went to her apartment to visit and she came to see my Christmas tree in July . . . YES! I keep it up all year. I even turned the lights on for her and her granddaughter.

She got sicker and sicker and allowed hospice to visit her but would not go to a hospice hospital. She wanted to die in her own place when the time came. All her family knew the situation, including the youngest grand daughter. She had a medic alert button she could push if she needed hospice at a time when they weren't visiting her.

I stopped by often to visit and made a special card for her but anytime I was the least bit sick, I stayed away because I didn't want her to catch anything I might be spreading around. The last couple times I rang her doorbell she didn't answer. OK, so her family came and got her and were off visiting I told myself . . . or . . . Maybe she didn't feel good enough for visitors. . .

This past week, I hadn't been feeling good so I didn't stop by. I didn't want her to catch whatever crud was going around and shorten her time we had together on earth! Sunday afternoon, I got really sick and spent the entire time in bed. That afternoon AND Monday AND Tuesday. This was my JURY duty week. I lucked out and my number hadn't been called for Monday and Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday, I had to report. . .

That was today and I was the last juror chosen. We met until 5:30 and when I got home there was a note in the elevator that Mary had died on Monday! I couldn't believe it. It was some other Mary, not my friend, Mary. . . it couldn't be! I wanted to make her some more cards. I wanted to stop by and chat again. I wanted to share the joy in our friendship again. After all, the doctor had told her she would live until Christmas! I had MY plans. . . How dare God allow this to happen????????

I thought of other people with cancer. My twin had lived 12 years after her diagnosis. A lady at church was still going good after 5 years. I was really mad at God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I went downstairs to look at the directory and see if I had the right number for her as was posted on the notice. It did. It was truly "my" Mary who had died Monday. Then, while I was in the mailroom talking to someone about this, Mary's daughter and one son came through the front door and went up in the elevator to clear out Mary's apartment. I had met them before so I hurried on the next elevator and knocked on "Mary's" door. . . Her son opened the door and just gave me a hug and daughter came to door and spoke to me too. I guess when I was sick Monday, they had knocked on my apartment door but I was so sick, I didn't get out of bed to see who was there.

Tears were streaming down my eyes. They told me her whole family was with her when she passed on and that she would be cremated like her husband, whose ashes Mary had in her apartment, and one day their whole family will take a trip to the Pacific Ocean and spread both their ashes there where they wanted to be together. I knew that was Mary's last wish so I am glad they will fulfill it. Tears were running down my face but when I left, after asking if I could help do anything, I felt at peace. . . a little lonely but at peace because I can just see Mary in heaven with her new body, cancer free! I'm sure my twin met her at the gate. . . I hope she will be there to meet me. I'm not mad at God anymore. . .

I thank Him for the blessing of Mary's friendship even tho it was so short. She touched my life and I hope I touched hers. I'm glad she didn't have to suffer any longer. I'm glad my twin, Margie, got to meet her too! If you read this far, bless you. MY INTERNET FRIENDS. Mary, and you are my blessing this week. This is just for you from Mary's memory and I. . .

There is beauty in the death of a weed because there is promise of a new one in the spring. Just like Mary with her new body now. . .


Katney said...

Thank you for sharing Mary's story. I will add her name to my hat.

SandyCarlson said...

I feel deeply for your loss, friend. What a set of circumstances to undergo before learning of such a thing. Your story makes me grateful for my friends and mindful to let them know how I feel. I am sure your Mary left this world aware of your love in her heart.

Whatever said...


Blue Panther said...

That was a very touching narration of your friendship with Mary. I am at a loss of words to say much, but it was heartening to read that you are not mad at God anymore.

Sue said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss, but thank you for sharing your dear friendship with Mary with us.


DoubleDeckerBusGuy said...

Thank you for sharing this...

Our condolences for your (and Mary's family's) loss... and smiles that indeed, she's gone to a better place...

Our thoughts are with you...

becky voyles said...

Oh, Paulie this is one of the most beautiful posts I have read. It made me cry. I am so sorry you lost your friend Mary. I hope you don't mind but I am going to share this with my friends esp my friend Penny who had breast cancer also. I had wanted Penny to take every medication they offered her so she would still be around to see her grandchildren but she was afraid to take one due to the side effects. Luckily she was borderline for it so it wasn't a must she should take it. Thank you for writing this. Maybe it will help others too. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers as you deal with your loss.

Kuanyin Moi said...

I'm moved to tears by this touching sharing of Mary and your friendship with her! You have blessed us all by writing and sharing this loving friendship.

Gramma L said...

Paulie that was such a great blessing to read about your dear friend. Death is never easy to accept and I think God understands our anger. I'm glad your now able to rejoice in her homecoming. Cancer is a horrible thing - I'm thankful she doesnt half to suffer anymore. You were a great friend to her. God bless you!

Kristine G said...

i'm so sorry to hear of your loss. death always makes us more appreciate simple things in life like friendship. I hope that God will comfort you in this circumstance.

thank you for dropping by and left the sweet comment..

Anonymous said...

I just rec'd this story below in an email, and it reminded me of your story of your dear friend, Mary.

I think your friendship was a blessing for the short time she had left.

And like the story below, I'm sure the good feeling of how you made her feel so welcome on her first day at her new surroundings was never forgotten.

My condolences.


The Cab Ride

So I walked to the door and knocked. 'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

'Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. 'It's nothing', I told her. 'I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated'.

'Oh, you're such a good boy', she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, and then asked, 'Could you drive through downtown?'

'It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly.

'Oh, I don't mind,' she said. 'I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice'.

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. 'I don't have any family left,' she continued. 'The doctor says I don't have very long.' I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. 'What route would you like me to take?' I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing. As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said,

'I'm tired. Let's go now'

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

'How much do I owe you?' she asked, reaching into her purse.

'Nothing,' I said.

'You have to make a living,' she answered.

'There are other passengers,' I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said.

'Thank you.'

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.

But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.


Day4plus said...

Sad and beautiful. Thank you for being a friend to Mary. You enriched each other's life. MB

Cindi said...

Thank you for writing this post about Mary. I'm sure that she valued your friendship as much as you valued hers. You were a blessing to her.

dot said...

How sad Paulie. She was blessed to have a friend like you and so am I.

About Me

My photo
WELCOME to my blog. I hope you will return often.

I am on my third digital camera, all Olympus. I enjoy using it and sharing my photos. I also enjoy writing. I hope to share a little of each on this blog. My main blog is Postcards From the Northwest.

Kerri and I will continue to add benches to "For the Love of Benches Continued . . . " blog also. It is good to continue to share with her!

Continuation of the Kiggins House Re-model photos were lost when my computer crashed.

The latest city project, TURTLE PLACE, will unfold here as I have time to add photos. It is complete and maybe I can find enough photos someday to show you the final results. Next project after the two I am working on now. . .

Blog Your Blessings Sunday