And Life Goes On

| October 2, 2017 | 0 Comments

Although 40 years have flown by since we lived near each other, my dear friends, Bob and Arlene, and I have kept in faithful touch. We talk all the time and although we are on opposite coasts, we try to visit at least once a year. But my visit to North Carolina this time was special, Bob was turning 80 and a party was in the works. We met when our oldest kids were in pre-school, a scant 50 years ago. It’s one thing to find a female friend, but special when the husbands become just as close. It is even more special when the children bond as well.

That’s what our friendship was like all those many years ago. That meant Saturday nights out as couples and Sunday family get togethers in someone’s back yard. Yet, it seems the longer one lives, the more life gets in the way. Now I am widowed and have lost one child. They have one divorced child, one who never married and one who is married with two kids, and recently Bob the birthday boy, had to succumb to a partial leg amputation.

I was a little nervous about seeing him, but he was the same old Bob. Well actually he wasn’t the same. He was much more mellow, more adaptable, and as his wife said, much easier to live with. I was not surprised. Having a sister with a debilitating illness prepared me for what happens to people who accept the hand they’re dealt. My sister always had a sweet accommodating nature and she continued that way. No one would accuse Bob of sweetness and accommodation. I referred to him as the curmudgeon, and my kids never forgot when, during one of those Sunday afternoons, he popped a firefly into his mouth and swallowed it. He was, by all accounts, a character.

It was interesting to see how well he was adapting to his condition. He was already adept at transferring from the wheelchair to the car or to a chair, and I accompanied them to a prosthetic fitting where I watched as he fought off pain to walk back and forth on what would soon be his new leg. I kept thinking, “Good for you, you will walk again I’m sure.” As I learned from my sister, determination is a critical factor.

The visit was wonderful because I also got to spend time with old friends in for the party, who I had not seen in 40 years. I felt bad when I did not recognize one at first. She came right over to hug me and realized by the look on my face, I did not know who she was. And this was a woman I played tennis with each week. In fact, our tennis team was all there. We were a foursome who all shared “lene” in our names, yes it was Ilene, Arlene, Helene and Marlene and yet I did not recognize this beautiful, silver haired woman after 40 years of not seeing her. All four of us were there and it did not take long until we felt like no time had passed at all.

But time, indeed, had passed. There had been deaths and illness and joy as well. We caught each other up on our families and reveled in the fact that we all looked “so great.” We were grandparents now, all retired, all fighting some aspect of aging. One of us had won a battle with cancer, one was fighting the ravages of ALS, some of us were dealing with our children’s issues, but being together was a reminder of the good lives we all had too.
We do not know what life will throw us. It is a dart throw. Being with old friends, sharing a major milestone birthday and reflecting back is a nice touchstone. A good life can be all about having a good attitude. I spent a few days with people who confirmed that.

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