Once in a while a friend says something or does something that teaches you a lesson you never let go of.
My friend Debbie. (yes, her real name, no I did not get permission).
Her home, decorated so beautifully. Stunning vignettes in places here and there. Some, so high up on a ledge, I found myself asking, how did you manage that?
She laughed. She said, oh, Larry does that for me. How? I ask.
She says, she gathers what she wants, already has a picture in her mind and then he climbs up and she tells him where to put what.
I actually saw her do this once.
She never raised her voice. She calmly explained, “That looks fine, however, would you mind moving it 3 inches to your left?” “Oh dear, you are doing such a nice job, maybe you could drape that ribbon over the last branch on your right?” “I appreciate your help, do you think you could remove the dust jacket from that one book?” “Oh, you did such a good job, it looks great”.
She never seemed to run out of patience. She seemed to have a way about asking politely for help and then being gracious and waiting.
We met at the church. Working together on something or other. Most likely the yearly art show. However, she was always chairman of the Missions committee, so there is a good chance we met while volunteering for some project. She helped me with Vacation Bible School. We gabbed about living in Germany. Her just returning, me just about to move there. We traded recipes. I still have 3 recipe cards in her handwriting.
Side story: When we lived in Oklahoma, their son Jimmy was 15. He was my LIFESAVER.
While, Mr. Right was “invited” by the US Army to work in another country for 9 months, I needed, craved, wanted to go to my once a week quilting group. Monday Night Quilters. I would drive across town, pick up Jimmy and bring him over to babysit. Although at the time, we didn’t call it “babysitting”. We said, “Yippee, Jimmy gets to come over to play cars and board games!”
Jimmy wasn’t old enough to drive or date. He had a bottomless stomach and for some reason LOVED to play cars with my boys and board games and hide and seek and you know, just be around boys. I left snacks and went off to quilt. Then I would come home. No snacks left and a house that had been played in. Toys, games, cars everywhere. The furniture moved slightly, as only a mom knows, they were hiding behind things while playing hide and seek.
It was all okay with me. The pay off was huge. I got to go to quilting with adults. Jimmy got to play with younger kids toys. Debbie and Larry would call to check in a couple of times during the 2 hours of “babysitting” but never tell me they checked in.
While Bruce was away, they graciously invited the boys and I to join them for Thanksgiving. It was the one and only time we had been included in another family’s holiday. They made us feel so welcome. It wasn’t weird, it was just so nice.
Debbie and Larry have 7 yes, SEVEN granddaughters! Then recently, they finally got their first grand son. Oh boy!
One night, while having dinner at our home, (she went on and on about how beautiful my grandchild clock was), when they were leaving I said, “Larry would you mind taking that clock off the wall for me? He was eager to help, we were about to move, so he didn’t think anything about it. Then I said, could you please help me wrap it in towels and take it home? I told Debbie you love that clock more than I will ever love it. Oh the usual, “I couldn’t”, “no, really.”……… finally, thank you. I will take good care of it. And she has.
Last night, I found out my friend, only 60 years old, passed away.
I am still sort of numb. I can’t really believe we won’t be getting her 5 page, single spaced, typed in red ink (I am not kidding) Christmas letter. It was really long, every year. Some years, I would joke with her. Seriously? Who has that much to say? She would just laugh. As per Southern hospitality and charm, she gave me an ornament from her Christmas tree. I always hang it up. This year, I think I will hang it in the front of our tree. A blue painted heart.
Today, her husband Larry is sitting in their home, stunned. Surrounded by his ridiculously large John Wayne collection, seriously, the biggest I have ever seen. Just sitting there quiet.
Her little dogs are sitting waiting for her to wake up.
As I type this, I am sitting. Trying to be gracious and grateful for our friendship.
Her grands are sitting in school.
Her sister and family are sitting on an airplane, headed back to Oklahoma.
Debbie is not sitting.
Debbie is no longer in her wheel chair.
She is dancing in Heaven.