I am blessed with several wonderful women in my life, my “chosen sisters!” We have shared so many ups and downs, we could name the roller coaster of our years by our life cycle events. We watched our children, and their children grow, we watched our careers come and in some cases, go, and we now watch our grandchildren blossom in their lives. And through it all, we saw our parents age and change, and we attended their funerals and heard their eulogies. We learned more about their years before we met, and realized with incredible clarity that they were so much more than simply the parents of our friends. Their lives were the cornerstone of their families and of society.
I would like to tell you about two such wonderful ladies, who sadly, died less than two weeks apart. Please forgive me for referring to them by their first names… I would never have done that when addressing them. They were “Mrs.”, and never, never “Ms.” Roz was a force before her time, before women worked out of the home, despite raising three children. She was determined and forthright, even having an instinct about the future needs of those being educated. She was the highest level female administrator in one of the largest school systems in New Jersey, and quite coincidentally, my boss’ boss when I was a young Speech Therapist in the schools. At that time, I didn’t know Beth, her daughter, nor did I know she would become such a stitch in the fabric of my life.By the time we became friends, I was no longer working in the schools, and had my own speech therapy practice. But Beth and I raised our children together, and our toddlers attended each other’s birthday parties, and I would see Roz, as always, gracious and lovely. When I hugged her, it wasn’t because she was in her position of power, I hugged her because she was part of my new life, and I was proud to show her my daughter, and who I had become. Ever the loving woman, she greeted us with her warmth and knowing smile.
What is so interesting to me is that until her funeral, and her eulogies, I had forgotten how important a woman she was to so many. She had been Beth’s mom… she gave me Beth, and Beth emulated her in dozens of ways, although she has never “had her gray hair!” I love Beth because she is smart, accomplished, caring and devoted, and yes, determined, just like her mom. She is tall and carries herself with the same grace as did her mom until Alzheimer’s stole her away. The disease kidnapped Roz and held her in its grip until the end, but sitting at her funeral, the strength and dignity of this woman came right back to all of us!
Sharon’s mom passed away peacefully, having succumbed to her physical disease. We were all grateful Shirley didn’t suffer what could have been a languishing event. And as I would have expected, my treasured friend created a loving and enriched environment so those who loved her could be with her to not only provide comfort for Shirley, but for each other. Because Shirley and her husband moved to Florida when we were newlyweds, I didn’t know her intimately, but when I was in her presence, she was always a sweet and caring lady. Her genuine goodness showed through her actions, and I am eternally grateful that she gave me such a beautiful friend in her daughter. Generous, giving, charitable and smart, Sharon set the bar rather high for me when we were much younger. But our friendship stood the test of time and the recognition of our similar values and morals, our appreciation for our gifts, our ability to laugh together and be kind together, and how much Sharon is Shirley.
These ladies were both well into their 90s when they passed away, as the generation of parents of baby boomers is, sadly, passing into the clouds. Let us never forget that generation… their values, elegance, hard work, charity, decorum and determination. These ladies created my friends in their images, and I am so grateful and appreciative that they did.