Our mother’s birthday is May 23. She passed away 15 years ago and there isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t remember something she said, her unconditional love and her wisdom. Here is a small snapshot of this elegant, classy lady and her lovely friendship with John.
Mom took her first trip abroad several years after Dad passed away. Because she’d be travelling with her cousin and his wife, she felt comfortable and secure. Their destination: Italy.
Mom spoke Italian and became the go-to person for questions about menus, signs and translation between the native Italians and the folks on the tour. She told me about a very distinguished gentleman, John from San Francisco, who had become the center of attention with the single ladies. Was she part of this swooning crowd, I asked her? “Oh no, not me,” she said, “I would never carry on like that.” Soon, however John focused his attention on Mom, and a solid and lovely friendship was born. They began travelling with several couples from the tour. John would fly to New York and meet Mom and the others at JFK. Off they’d go: Hong Kong where they had lunch with my IBM friends on assignment, Thailand, Singapore, Portugal, Spain, the UK and France. Mom loved travelling, meeting the locals and drinking in the customs and ways of life in each country. John shared her enthusiasm and most of all they had fun together.
Back home in the States, they talked by phone every Sunday evening. Several times I answered the phone and had a nice conversation with John, an intelligent man with a sense of humor. He once told me how special and gracious my mother was and how very much he respected her ideas and opinions. He said that no matter what country, she got along with everyone.
Mom flew to California several times a year to spend time with brother Jack and his family. On these trips, she would visit her childhood girl friend Liz who lived just outside San Francisco. Mom stayed with Liz for a few days; she took the BART into San Francisco where she met and spent an afternoon with John. He always planned something special for her, a trip to Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch and shopping being one of the highlights. Late afternoon, Mom returned to Liz’s and the next day flew back to my brother’s. These visits were very special for her. She would happily fill me in about where they ate, where they shopped and how she enjoyed being with John.
The phone calls, trips abroad and treasured visits in California were bright and happy times for Mom for many years. As does sadly happen, health issues entered the picture and each began to fail. Because of her failing memory and John’s illness, they hadn’t spoken in months when Mom passed away. I called John to let him know. The recorded message stated that the number had been disconnected and there was no forwarding number. Upon hearing that message, I was overcome with feelings of sadness.
Mom always said Dad was her first love that she wouldn’t marry again. However, I am thankful she had this cherished friendship with John, anticipating future trips, sharing thoughts and ideas once again. Better still, she had it on her own gracious terms.
Happy birthday, Mom. You are so loved and missed.