Since moving into our condo, I made a new friend that I've mentioned in our post about living in "Mayberry" ... Miss Margaret. We've met a few times in the past 10 weeks, and I grew fond of our 86 year young neighbor. Just before Christmas a quick "hello" turned into an hour visit. I learned about the death of her husband seven years ago after battling cancer, about how she lost everything in Hurricane Katrina in 2005 which caused her & her husband to relocate to the "Northshore" of Lake Pontchartrain. She shared photos of her son, daughter and grand-kids ... and a few stories that they'd probably rather not be told! I admired the photo on the wall of her in her bridal gown many years ago ... she was beautiful. Yes, she'd been married over 50 years. It wasn't easy ... in fact, she told me about how she left her husband three times in the first year! I laughed when she told me about the time he wanted to go drinking with his buddies, so she raised the hood of his car when he wasn't looking and pulled the wires loose. Unfortunately, his best friend saw what she was up to and her plan backfired. Before she knew it, they left in the car for a night of drinking. Evidently, they worked things out.
When I came home from work last week to see an ambulance leaving her residence, my heart sank. Surely Miss Margaret was just having problem with her feet again. She's a diabetic and has been having some problems with circulation. Just a few days earlier she was standing inside her front door (inches from our front door) and on the telephone. As I walked up to our door, she broke away from her phone conversation for a minute to tell me she was having problems with her feet again and was going to need surgery. Her feet were bright red, and I told her she'd better go sit down! She laughed, got back to her conversation, and I went inside.
A couple of days later, I mentioned to Ken that I still hadn't seen Miss Margaret and I hoped she was okay. Yes, she must be in the hospital recovering from her foot surgery. When Ken came inside this past Sunday from putting out the trash, he told me that Miss Margaret's daughter was outside ... and Miss Margaret was gone. Gone?! My heart sank once again. Surely Ken misunderstood.
It seems that Miss Margaret's daughter and son-in-law had come over last week to wrap the pipes in preparation for a freeze that night, and while they were there Miss Margaret had a stroke. That's when they called the ambulance and I came home. Miss Margaret never recovered and passed away three days later.
I was saddened to hear of Miss Margaret's passing, but thankful that I had the chance to meet her. She reminded me of my grandmother, who passed away several years ago. She was a full-blooded Italian, and so was Miss Margaret. The very first time I met her I knew she had to be Italian ... and she had the same eyes as my grandmother. I miss my grandmother, and I already miss Miss Margaret.
What also saddens me is that fact that I didn't spend more time with my new friend. Even though she had family nearby, still drove her car, and was still sharp as a tack ... I sensed her loneliness. I planned on having her over for hot tea soon, and even told her so. I wanted my mom to meet her, as she'd enjoy meeting another older Italian woman like her own mother was.
Fortunately, I knocked on Miss Margaret's door on Christmas Eve to wish her a "Merry Christmas", give her a little bag of goodies, and introduce her to my daughter. She seemed surprised and genuinely appreciative that I knocked on her door to say "hello" and give her a little gift. We talked for a little while before we headed to New Orleans for dinner. I'm so glad that I at least followed through with that plan to wish her a "Merry Christmas" and introduce her to our daughter.
In life, I have so many good intentions that I don't always follow through on. Life gets hectic, I sometimes get lazy, and time passes on. The loss of my new friend is another reminder of why I want to simplify my life. I want more time to not only travel ... but tend to my family and friends! These are the important things in life. I can't wait to slow down ... wouldn't it be great if we all did?!
Hasta luego ... until then. Mid-Life Cruising!