I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
It's with a heavy heart that I bid adieu to two of the most wonderful women in my friendship circle.
Jean held out a hand and helped me out of a dark place after my parents were killed in a car accident in 1996. In 1999, Jean suggested to me that it might be a good for me to come on a birding trip with her to England. That trip turned out to be a magical one. We were six Canadian ladies with an English birding guide, Tom. We sang and laughed and birded and ate our way around England, Scotland and Wales. When we returned home, five of us stayed fast friends and continued to get together to bird, eat, and drink.
Jean had struggled with grief herself--her husband committed suicide, leaving her to raise six children on her own. Later, one of those children also took her own life.
Jean, you helped me find happiness again when I really needed it. You were a friend, a conspirator, a mentor, and a shining example of how to conquer grief. I will miss your mischivous sense of humour, our birding adventures, time spent around the fireplace, and our travels. Thank you for convincing me to go birding in England with you and thanks for your wonderful friendship.
She passed away on February 13, 2018.
I met Nancy on that same 1999 birding trip. We were soon calling her Nurse Nancy and she was organizing us from the very beginning. When we returned to Canada, it was Nancy who planned our first reunion and five of us continued to travel and bird together.
No one was more generous with her time and attention than Nancy. She thrived on gatherings of the people she was fond of. She always claimed that she chose nursing in the operating room because she didn’t have to deal with patients that way, but her actions belied her claims of misanthropy. Her house had a revolving cast of guests and boarders. If she suspected that you didn’t have plans at Christmas, you were immediately invited to her Christmas Eve gathering and enveloped in warmth. She is the only person I know who accidentally ended up the President of the Residents’ Council at her seniors’ facility.
Nancy was always a fun travel companion. She was always ready to share a laugh or a bird sighting. When we would travel as a group, her room became the common area where we would all meet for Happy Hour before going to dinner.
Nancy, you gave me loads of common-sense, motherly advice when I asked for it (and you refrained when I didn't ask). You supplied the organization for our various capers and a cabin at Sylvan Lake as a gathering point. I will never regret running a mouse-trap line for you on one of our visits. I will miss your laugh, your generosity, your phone calls to organize the next get-together.
Nancy departed on March 17, 2018.
Both women suffered from dementia at the ends of their lives. I quit visiting Jean when she no longer recognized me and was upset that a stranger was visiting her. I was worried at Christmas when I didn't hear from Nancy--and it turns out that my worries were justified. She had many health issues, including dementia, from October onwards.
Phone, visit, write, hug your elderly friends & relatives. We don't know how many more days we will get with any of them.