"The ocean and the sky will be so blue, then we all fade away" - Micah
On this day, February 9, five years ago at 10:01 am I received a message on Facebook. It said "I cried when your name came up. It's been too long. Ann". I remember the last time I saw her but I don't remember what year it was. We met for ice cream when I had an appointment in a close by town. She had her husband take our picture together in the parking lot.
Ann was born April 12, 1940. I met her when I was 14 so she would have been 47 at the time...only 4+ years older than I am now. Funny now that I am getting closer to that age, I don't recall her seeming that young. All through high school (atleast the part of it I made it through) she was my very best friend. She would come pick me up and haul me around with her, or just take me to her house to eat and hang out with her and her husband. I'm sure he was tickled to damn death to have another damn teenager hanging around after he had finally gotten his raised and out of the house. We spent hours talking on the phone. In hind sight our friendship makes no sense at all. I had the typical teenage angst, just waiting to blow full rebellion and she was the middle aged mother, Sunday school teacher, mother of 3 grown children that had never strayed a day in her life. Never did I feel like I was a bother or that she was hanging around me as some form of a self perceived duty to save a wayward soul. When I got old enough to drive I spent hours wandering the country roads in the counties around my house. I would pull to a stop sign and choose left or right, trying to triangulate and figure where I was or would end up. Although I couldn't find it today, her parents lived out one of those many roads I roamed. When I would come by their house with the, "damn that's where that road comes out" epiphany, I would stop in and sit with them. They made me feel like one of their grandkids, just like she made me feel like one of her girls.
As an angry sixteen year old I moved out of my parents and in with some friends. She never tried to discipline me or tell me what to do, she was always there, hug of support and I love you, though her disappointment was worn on her face. Ann may have been one of the few people, even to this point in my life, who ever knew how to handle me. She knew that I was/am horrible with criticism and I react poorly to being pushed. As life goes, jobs, moves, marriages and divorces pull us in different directions and locales...for me at least. We kept in touch, but not nearly enough. Years would pass between phone calls. Distance made visits non-existent. After her message five years ago we talked, though now I don't recall if it was by phone or just email. She said she still had the pillows I gave her on her bed (gifts that I don't recall) and my picture was still on her nightstand. She told me that she was proud of my writing, but admitted not understanding some of my snarkiness...blamed it on being an old lady. That's something I can't imagine she ever became. Ann died July of 2013 without me ever telling her what impact she had on my life. Without hearing that I wouldn't have became the same person I am today without her. I can only hope she knew how incredibly special she was.