For a Friend

A year ago, the hearts of many were heavy as we received word of the passing of an outstanding lady that my wife and I were lucky to know and call friend.

We last saw her at handbell practice in early November after returning from a week-long Caribbean cruise. She was fighting chest congestion for a month, thus at the end of rehearsal, my wife and another ringer convinced her to escalate her troubles. Later that week she went to the hospital, received X-rays, was admitted, and never returned home.

Being gracious, funny, and a good one to kid, those that knew her, loved her. No matter what she did, she always gave it her best, and with the ability to laugh at herself … and, much too young to leave the living.

We, and the family, thought she would be home for Thanksgiving or shortly thereafter, but the lung cancer was too aggressive and too advanced. I can’t recall ever crying for so many consecutive days – not for any friends or my grandparents, aunts, uncles, or parents. It was very hard for us in this house, and it also impacted our entire holiday season.

Nonetheless, we grabbed our bootstraps, and focused on her husband because that is something we could do here and now. I’m proud of him as he’s done well, and I’m happy with the little part that I’ve played.

Today is the first anniversary of her passing – thus, why I couldn’t do a cartoon post. She wouldn’t be much for the today’s hub-bub, thus would be fussy with me to post as normal – but that’s ok, she’s not here to stop me … besides, I can use this to  kid her again!

I’ve thought a lot of her this week, and even write this with tears – but it’s something I had to do for a good lady.

A few days after her funeral, I posted this tribute to her, as I share a constant reminder I have of her.  Besides, I know I’m a better person today because of her role of a portion of my life – but my wife and I still miss her.

Her funeral was difficult for the entire handbell choir as she was one of us, besides, her husband asked us to play. I still recall the difficulty of that rehearsal for the entire choir, but also his strength and pride through his smile as we concluded at the funeral.

Today is a good time to share this beautiful version of Beside Still Waters we played with heavy hearts for our friend and handbell colleague.

Meanwhile, “Hey up there – how are the butterflies?” (actually, an inside joke for her that I couldn’t resist)

On a Dinner Group

GilligansIslandDinnerIn 1999, we were 1 of 4 couples grouped together with the task of getting to know one another by hosting a simple meal in each of our homes. Meeting 4 times over 9 months seemed like a reasonable undertaking in order to expand our church family.

Ten years and 55 dinner-gatherings later, we’re still meeting. Since we initially clicked, we continued to meet and began sharing cooking duties for theme-oriented events. Whether cultural nights as Italian, Japanese, Scandinavian, Greek, or Lebanese; or celebration themes as Mardi Gras, Christmas, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or Fourth of July; or food themes as wrapped, stuffed, on a stick, yellow, or homemade pizza; or many others including Gilligan’s Island that introduced the world to Mrs. Skipper – we’ve eaten well, drank many bottles of wine, and developed meaningful friendships.

Within the group we’ve experienced deaths of parents, high school and college graduations, marriages, birth of grandchildren, surgeries, buying & selling of homes, difficult health issues, significant professional changes with 7 of us, and many other personal events. Life events and demands continue to change everyone, yet we still continue to meet – and the next one is at our house with the theme of Julie Child recipes. If we would have only kept the recipes of all our feasts … wow! Nonetheless, bon appetite!