Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – New Bloggers on the Scene – Melanie M. Stewart – Saying Goodbye, a Story of a Friendship (2019)

This series of Posts from Your Archives is exclusively for blogs that are under a year old. It is an opportunity to meet new readers and to show off your writing skills.. All the details are in this post along with some tips on how to make your blog more reader friendly.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/08/28/new-series-smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-new-blogger-promotionand-setting-up-your-blog-for-accessibility-readability-and-sharing/

This is the third post of Melanie Stewart who blogs at Leaving the Door Open: A Daughter’s stories about an aging parent. Sharing Tips and facts learned along the way. In this post, Melanie’s mother faces the loss of a friend who had become like a sister to her.

Saying Goodbye, a Story of a Friendship

This is going to be a tough one. We’ve just heard that my mother Ginny’s best friend Ann passed away yesterday. She was 90.

Ann and Ginny’s friendship began 65 years ago when their future husbands met at college. They raised their families in the same suburb for many years. When my dad died at age 50, Ann was the rock for mom. When mom moved from our house into a condominium, Ann and Uncle Ted graciously agreed to take “my” piano (an inheritance from my grandmother) and place it in their living room for more than ten years until I had a home of my own. Uncle Ted walked me down the aisle on my wedding day. Ann and Ginny talked just about every Wednesday for 19 years once mom moved away to Florida and they shared countless, endless laughs together. They shared life together.

Ginny is 88. The family had called my sister Hailey to share the news with mom. When she was told, she was very quiet. She asked about a service, but nothing at that point had been determined.

I checked in with Ginny that same afternoon. She did share that she had called another friend who would look for the obituary in the local paper and mail it to her, but she immediately shifted the conversation to asking if we were ready for our upcoming trip to Boston.

“We’re ready, but that’s not why I called Mom, how are you doing?” I reiterated.

“Well, I think the news is disturbing. So I started reading. It’s a good book about the 1930’s…”

It dawns on me that she doesn’t want to talk about it. It IS depressing, disturbing news. My mother was basically raised as an only child because her “half” sister was 18 years old when Ginny was born. I know that she considered Ann her sister. And then there is the fact that she allows VERY few people into her world to begin with; Ann was at the top of the list. Her already small world was shrinking even more.

Hailey chose to check on her a day or two later to get a feel for her emotional state over lunch.

“I don’t have service plans yet, but when I get them, would you want to go to Minnesota?” she gently asked.

“That would just about kill me” was her exact reply and they are words that have let us in, if just for a moment, on the enormity of the loss she is facing.

Three Weeks Later

Hailey and I decide that we want to fly from Florida to Minnesota to attend the service. Representing mom feels like the right thing to do. And I try to hold onto everything related to that weekend so I can share it with her.

The service was held in an ancient, tiny stone chapel located right on the cemetery grounds. The program included “Reflections on Faith”, “Musings on Mom” and an original piano piece titled “Morning Lily” played by her grandson. And because they wanted to focus on the word “celebration”, they encouraged everyone in attendance to stand at the end and move to the aisle to dance. Yes, dance. That’s how Ann would have wanted it.

Parts of the day were tremendously moving. I have vivid images of standing at her grave while we each placed a flower on her already-lowered casket. I see the image of her husband standing in front of her, talking to her, sharing lyrics from a song. I do not see a dry eye around me.

And for me, there was that camaraderie spending time with my “second” family. I hadn’t seen some of them for at least 20 years, but their stories made me feel like I walked right through a screen into our collective past, watching and listening to everyone as they were 40-50 years ago.

“Did you know your mom took me out for ice cream on my birthday because mom was out of town?” asked one family member at the dinner we had that first evening.

“Did you know your mom once drove mom to the hospital because dad was out of town?” asked another.

“Did you know your mom threw me a wedding shower?”

I did not know. And honestly? I don’t remember that Ginny. The Ginny memories I have are of someone who doesn’t cope well with doing favors or taking charge. In my mind, she would not be the person to be a second mom to someone and go out for a birthday ice cream. But I am grateful to hear memories from a different angle. It’s kind of cool, in fact. It makes me wonder about how deeply the loss of my dad changed her. How being alone for so many years turned her inward; less confident. But that thought can be examined at a later time.

I go to the second floor of the restaurant where we all met for lunch (where Ann and Uncle Ted went on a date) to watch a slideshow presentation of Ann and her family. It included photos from every phase of her life. When she was young, when she’s holding her babies, then photos of her four children holding their own. There were photos of grandchildren, cousins goofing around, posed shots with Ann and Uncle Ted, family beach vacations, holidays. Life. Love. I saw a few photos of my mom and dad from so long ago.

I realized that in a way, I was watching Ginny’s life too since there were so many overlaps and shared events and memories along the same timeline of life. That was a powerful thought. Ginny had lost a significant portion of her own self with the death of Ann. Maybe she was thinking of that when she had said being there “would just about kill her.”

Although there’s really no way that I can turn the loss around, I do want to share all these details with Ginny in a way that highlights how she was able to connect with and be a friend to this smart, kind and funny woman for sixty-five years. And maybe one day, in the privacy of her home, and just for a moment, she may dance for her friend too.

Thanks to Melanie for sharing this love tribute to Ann and also to her mum Ginny. I am sure that any of you with elderly parents will connect with story as we watched them cope with friends from their youth that have been there through all the ups and downs of life.

@Melanie M. Stewart 2019

About Melanie M. Stewart.

Many years ago, I worked as a freelance writer for a local paper in suburban Chicago. I covered everything from cloning & measuring the risk of heart disease to my “Day in the Life” series where I spent the day with a veterinarian or watching “behind the scenes” at a popular restaurant.

Then I went to work for Legacy.com (online obituaries). I stayed there for almost nine years. I enjoyed helping customers navigate the site and at times, offer support during a highly emotional time.

This blog combines these two experiences. They are non-fiction stories pulled from my own experiences navigating the aging parent years. I also provide informational links and tips as well as the opportunity for you to share your story.

I have no professional background in psychology or senior healthcare. I’m just in it day-to-day. I’m married and a mom who enjoys a good laugh, a good mystery/thriller and watching the Chicago Cubs.

Connect to Melanie

Blog: https://leavingthedooropen.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/storiesonaging

It would be great if you would head over to Melanie’s blog and follow her there and on Twitter.. Thanks Sally.

33 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – New Bloggers on the Scene – Melanie M. Stewart – Saying Goodbye, a Story of a Friendship (2019)

    • Hi Linda, thank you. Yes, how rare and wonderful to have a person know “everything” and be by your side your ENTIRE life? Also, I loved hearing them laugh together. 🙂 Mom does miss her.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A beautiful and touching post, Melanie. How lovely that you and your sister were able to attend Ann’s funeral and share the event later with your mom. I remember hearing once that our siblings (I’m including Ann and Ginny in this description) will in many cases be the longest relationships of our lives. The loss is profound. I’m so glad that you were sensitive to this as your mom grieved. Great share, Sally.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you Diana. I had read something similar and one psychologist had mentioned that she wishes there was more printed information (books, articles) that could help a grieving sibling for that very reason. It is the longest relationship you will have. I’m going to have to track down that quote. 🙂 Anyway, attending that service did help mom, and surprisingly, it helped me too. I am thrilled I made that decision. Thank you for sharing your insight! I appreciate it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This was such a bittersweet post Melanie shared. I lost a close friend in my 40s and I know how devastating it was for quite some time. I can’t even pretend to imagine how an elderly woman would feel losing a life-long friend at her age. I hope she’s adjusted now. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  4. When I’m reading someone’s memories, it often triggers a thought from my life. Your mom’s relationship with her mom made me think of one of my mom’s closest friends, Marge. They lived on the same street for many years and shared memories about children and then grandchildren. My mom was still able to live on her own for about a decade after my dad passed. Eventually, she had to move into an assisted living center. When I’d go to visit my mom, I often knocked on the room next door to her where Marge had moved in. They were neighbors again.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I was moved by your telling of the loss of your mother’s closest friend. It reminded me of the unexpected death of my mother’s twin sister in 2009. She’s kept most of the loss inside, but shares bits and pieces with me.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Weekly Round Up – First Class Jazz, Guests, Food,Books with a dash of Humour thrown in.. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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