I’m missing my buddy today, a wonderful woman whom I’ve had the pleasure to know for some 20 years. She was a woman from the golden era, who thought that the best way to be was happy. My father, a rather gruff individual that somehow always found the wrong thing to say at the wrong time, introduced her to me. This woman was different; she exuded class and positive mental attitude. She had an amazing effect on my father and his more then often rough edges.
For years I had watched my father do verbal battle with my mother, until their final divorce, but this relationship he had with this woman was different. She was able to disarm him with a few simple words, and even bring a smile to his face in the bargain.
They had both moved into a retirement community at the same time, she got a little one room apartment, and he begrudgingly purchased the two bedroom one. He requested his unit on the backside of the building while hers was on the front side. He got his in the back so she couldn’t monitor his coming and going. So things went for close to 5 years, they grew closer, did everything together and overall enjoyed each other’s company.
Dad had a stroke after about 6 years there, and thanks to her coaxing; he was in a place that the transition could be made easily into nursing care. She watched over and guarded him like a mother bear, faithfully cleaning and caring for his every need for 2 ½ long years. She never once complained, but took care of him like a wife, even though she turned down overtures from my father to marry him. Her affection was that of unconditional love, and when he finally passed, my cousin and I started watching over her like protective bears. We found it rather hard to protect someone who was so private and evasive, but we did our best. After a brutal bout with Lou Gehrig’s disease, my cousin passed long before his time, and I was left alone to watch over my father’s “significant other.”
She was just barely over 93 years old, and now suffering from extreme dementia, but her spirit had never dimmed. For years her life was devoted to helping everyone from my father to the housekeeper that cleaned her apartment when she lived upstairs. Even when she moved into assisted living, she volunteered to do anything she could to make everyone’s life easier. She was truly the least selfish person I’ve ever met in my life, and I was privileged to know her. She was a product of her own time, and carried herself as such, she always dressed as if she was going somewhere, but instead did it as a tribute to her true nature. Her life deserved more then a silently extinguished flame, but then again at 93 she had outlived most of her peers. She was the last soldier standing, and last Saturday morning she drew her last breath, but her spirit will live on in me, something to live up to, something to aspire to, and yet, I know Dad was waiting there for her, and I was but a temporary guardian over an extraordinary woman…………God Speed my lovely Fran.