I got home fairly early Friday afternoon from work. It was a busy week and I managed to get a root canal and put in ten hours at work on Thursday, so I was not going to do much stressing on Friday. My oldest daughter was home but getting ready to head back to college after a week's break. As we sat at the kitchen table talking, I grabbed the local paper from Sunday and Monday that I had not taken time to look at yet. My eye fell on the list of obituaries and I saw an old friend's name. I had been talking to other friends earlier and trying to make plans for Saturday. When I read the obituary and discovered that I had not missed the funeral as it was scheduled for Saturday, I knew what my plans were. I had to go say goodbye to an old friend.
She was almost exactly forty years older than me, but we were fast friends. I had moved to the area only a few years before knowing no one but people through my husband since he was from the area. Then my marriage ended quite suddenly and I found myself having to seek out another church for support. I was helping to clean up after a church dinner one Sunday when Wanda struck up a conversation with me and suggested I come over one Saturday to see her garden. Saturdays were the days when I was all alone as my children went to visit their father so I was eager to take her up on her offer. She was an avid gardener and, I soon found out, a woman of many, many talents as well. She had been estranged from her husband for a number of years. She finished raising her several children alone, went back to nursing school, had broken her back along the way, but was one feisty and busy lady. She purchased her fixer-upper home when she was in her 60s, having sold her other home to her son across the street. She completely remodeled the house, doing a lot of the work herself. She knew how to save a dime and had an awesome sense of style. She liked to go to yard sales, did stained glass, painted and had a dollhouse collection among other things. She taught me and my girls how to go blueberry picking (I had never gone before in my life) and then how to can those blueberries. Blueberries remain my all-time favorite fruit. I remember one time Wanda called me and said she knew where to get some squash that were just laying out in the field for the picking. Off we went, gleaning some great vegetables that cost nothing but our time.
I started getting used to running a household alone myself, having Wanda as a role model and soon learned to be afraid of nothing, for where there's a will there's a way. I went back to school myself and soon got very busy with that, work and the children. (I remember interviewing Wanda for a school project. I have a recording of that somewhere.) Wanda eventually downsized and moved in next door to her daughter for more support. She had diabetes and sometimes fretted about being alone. We had not been in touch in the last couple of years unfortunately. You think you have all the time in the world until you don't. Her daughter told me how she had recently fallen and broken her hip and was in the hospital. She made it through surgery with flying colors. They were getting ready to start getting her up and walking, when her health took a downturn and she passed away in the wee hours of last Sunday morning.
So this Saturday I went to visit her for the last time. The angel statue pictured above I had purchased from her yard sale when she moved, there's a stand in the kitchen that I purchased on one of our yard sale trips, and the dollhouse in the living room here reminds me of her. I will miss you, old friend. Thanks for all you did for me and others around you. I will see you on the other side.