About a week ago, we had the final Memorial Service for my mom, Barbara, at the Baldwin-Wallace Chapel. She was a professor there for over 30 years teaching Speech and Oral Communications. She also taught weekend, and evening classes too. She was a worker. She was 94 when she died in September.
When I moved back to Northeast Ohio in 2001, none of her kids had lived near her in about 20 years, and I'm glad I did. I got to know her differently than when I left town in 1982. She was retired, painting daily, designing the next room addition to her home or some other projects, like writing plays too I also noticed she was losing friends on the regular. She was outliving many people that had been close with her at one time or another, and it started to dawn on me that she was getting older. There is an epiphany that takes place. Many she had worked with and spent a great deal of time with.
At 80, you generally are losing more friends than you are making, it's just math and it's sad. But for Babs she still had a nice group of great friends and neighbors she loved dearly. That included 5 little girls, all sisters, that live down the street from her. She was roughly 80 years older than the oldest girl but no one seemed to mind. They befriended my mom and I'm thankful for that. Babs taught them how to paint, and helped them appreciate the skill that it is. They rewarded Babs with regular visits, singing songs and being invited to spend some holidays and backyard party's together. I think that is incredibly nice and darn rare in today's world. Their parents are great people too, and I remember when their mom was born as she grew up down the street too. She also befriended my mom when she was a young kid as did the rest of her family.
My mom only has two grand children and they are quite a bit older than the neighbor girls. She loved those grand kids so much, and would brag about them on the regular to me and to anyone else who was around. But like many families, we are all spread out across the country and we all don't see each other as much as we would like. But I feel we did pretty darn well considering the miles, better than many over the course of many years. Life is busy, kids grow up, and it's no ones "fault" there is no blame to be placed anywhere on anyone. Miles are miles. So the fact that these 5 sisters decided on their own to befriend my mom is very special to me as I watched it, and was special to my mom.
Babs was blessed with incredible friends that she had in some cases over 50 years. Some of them spoke at her service and some even sang and that was special too. I am forever thankful for her friends of many decades, some from BW, some from the theater, some from next door and some from just down the street. And I want to thank every one of them for the kindness given to Babs. With my dad dying so young, my mom never remarried and lived alone in her wonderful old house for 43 years. That's a long time for that.
This has been a real learning experience for me, and I love learning new things. I learned you can overcome big losses. I learned life is a very long and short journey at the same time. I learned that 90 is a long time to be alive, and I learned that you are never too old to make new friends, and that should give comfort to many, as none of us gets younger.
For a woman that could be tough to get to know at times, and she certainly had her faults, she had a lot of great friends, young and old. And for that I am grateful and thankful.
I will always be thankful for that.