• Lessons in Friendship and a Trip

    In the last years of my mom's life I learned many end-of-life lessons.  As her body and mind failed her, she showed how hard aging can be, how the little steps in "letting go" of independence can drain your enjoyment of life, and how her love of family continued despite all the loss.

    The lesson of friendship, however, I learned from someone else.

    A true friendship doesn't fade away because our lives change, or we move away or we get old, or our brain dies slowly.  Recently I learned that even if we die - that link of lasting friendship and affection is not lost ... unless we intentionally let it go.  Mom's friend of 65 years had no intention of letting go of anything.  I learned something about friendship from her one weekend in October.

    When my mom's friend called me and invited my sister and I to visit her (almost 4 years after mom's death), I was blown away by the invitation.  She lived far away and had limited mobility and mom's dementia removed mom mentally from her friends.  But mom's friend managed to keep connected with me over the course of mom's last months.  Since mom's death, that friendship connection remained strong within her friend - wanting to know about our growing family ... and mom's great grand babies!

    We were thrilled to get the invitation.

    Our visit would take us into Long Island, NY by train.  I love train travel.  My sister and I looked upon it as an adventure.  Thankfully my sister is a seasoned traveler so she took control of working out the details of travel.

    The train turned out to be great fun.  Who knew they served food and drinks in a dining car!  We were several train cars away from the dining car, so we walked (read: staggered - train movements, you know) through another car I have never heard of - the Quiet Car!  Apparently in the Quiet Car - you must be quiet.  Ha!  A Quiet Car seemed like an odd thing to find in a bouncy noisy rocking mode of travel.  Each car has a toilet - thankfully.  The seats in the train provide a pull down tray and reclining options just like riding on a plane.  But the similarities between train and air travel stopped there.  Air travel requires so many security checks before you can even board the plane.  Train travel?  Not one security check.  Sort of like riding a bus - you have your ticket and you just get on - and don't tarry, 'cause that train is rolling out of the station with or without you.

    The highlight of our trip was seeing Mom's friend again.  She had retired many years ago to a beautiful area of Long Island called Rocky Point.  At 93 years of age, she is still as sharp as ever.  Our conversations with her were interesting and animated.  She had her share of health issues that limited her mobility, but make no mistake ... she had her mind!

    My sister and I prepared photo album of our grand babies as a gift for her.  We also included several pictures of mom during her last years just before the dementia totally took her from us.  She loved the book and we heard from her daughter that she shared it with others.

    Riding home on the train after our visit left lots of time for thought and reflection.   I couldn't help but marvel at how rich my mom's friendship life was with this woman.  Mom's friend was always a fire ball of a personality.  My earliest memories of her (I was probably age 7), are of a woman who was strong of body and mind, energitic and very generous of herself.  My mom was always a calm accepting kind of a personality who understood more than she ever said.  Together they complimented each other so well.  But I was also sad because mom was not here now to enjoy the friendship they had cultivated over a lifetime.

    We plan to do our share of staying connected with this wonderful woman ... especially now that we know that she has not let go of her friendship with our mom.  Not even death can take away what they had.  The album we gave her had lots of open spaces.  We will keep her current with pictures and notes - and we will take her up on her invitation to return for another visit - probably in the spring.

    Some lessons in life

     ... well ... 

    they brought tears to my eyes more than once that weekend.

    Next ... a little pictorial of Rocky Point Long Island - the beauty and the reality of living there.

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