Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Friends Through All Seasons of Life

Labor Day Weekend - we spent it with friends. Not unusual. That's how most people spend it - with family and/or friends. We were blessed to be with people who feel like both.

We've known Hubert and Tris for over 30 years.

It's hard to imagine I used to be scared of Hubert. He's a teddy bear of a man.

He started out as Don's boss, and somewhere along the line - we're not sure when - he became one of those rare friends who feels more like family. Tris - it's hard to sum up how I feel about her. She was there when our kids needed someone to be their Brownie Grandmother, to teach me to hang wallpaper, how to manage household finances, or deal with a husband who worked endless hours and more than can be summed up here. The lessons continue. This time they were on how to retire together.

My life mentor, all five feet of her.

We met Tom and Carlotta when Tom and Don were both being transferred to Illinois. They were kidless and we had a house bursting at the seams. They invited us over for dinner around their kitchen table and immediately the fit was good.

We've moved around the country, gone too long without seeing each other and missed times when we should have done a better job of staying in touch. When Carlotta was diagnosed with Alzheimers at age 53, there was no longer time to waste.

This weekend was our third visit to Tom and Carlotta's home, and the second time Hubert and Tris have driven across the country to meet us there.

Tom, who earns much respect from me for being able to smile in the midst of heartache.

It was not the typical Labor Day, end of summer celebration. Rather it was a weekend full of challenges and tears and hurt from looking at what lies ahead. It also held laughs and wonderful reminiscing and home cooking and too many pecan pies. Carlotta has gone through several stages of the disease's progression since we last saw her, and I'm sad for what we missed with her during that time.

Tris with Carlotta.

Time can never be made up, but with Alzheimers the pill is more bitter to swallow I think. They're still there with you, but a part of them is gone that will never come back. Still, in the midst of this sad and difficult weekend there was a richness and life lessons that you can't put a price on. Six people coming together because we love each other, because friendships that run longer than you've known your kids should be savored, because we all need the reminders of how fragile and fleeting and precious life really is. None of us has any guarantees, and none of us makes it out of this journey, so that's obviously not what is important. What is important is what we do with the time we have right now. That we give an extra hug, that we don't shy away from saying what we really feel, that we don't assume people know how much we love them. We tell them while we still have the time, while they can still hear the words.

My sweet husband, who I love more than life itself. Weekends like this make you hug each other a little longer. (The only photo you'll see of me is here, taking Don's photo.)

Katie the 'wonder-at-scoccer' dog, who provided entertainment all weekend long.


Barb said...

I'm so glad you shared this. The photos are especially moving because I remember when all us secretaries were terrified of Hubert. I can't imagine why, when I look back on that time. He and Tris look just amazing - it's so good to see current photos of them.

My brother-in-law looks pretty darn good too. :-) (I love your reflection in the photo.)

The photo of Tom makes me think what a brave man he is - I know his heart is breaking into a thousand pieces. It's so, so sad that a woman as young as Carlotta is has slipped away so quickly into this horrible disease. I feel awful for them. And for the other four of you who are losing a great friend.

Becky said...

Thank you for sharing Bev-very touching indeed.

pendy said...

What a sweet and wise post.

Judith said...

I can hardly write, for crying, but think of them as happy tears. You are so right about letting those we love know it.

Kelly said...

This is what friendship should be... through thick and thin, not just the lighhearted simple times, but the messier hard times as well.
We should all be so blessed to have lasting relationships such as these.

Jen said...

Such a great post. We too have friends that we are still close to before kids....breaks my heart for your friend...my papaw died from this disease....she is so young.

Gretchen said...

Love you, Bev. Just wanted you to know it. You've been a mentor to me from across the miles w/o even knowing me face to face.

God bless your friends, and may His grace be poured out upon Tom, especially right now.