Friday, April 3, 2015

Not the final blog. #1. The first about friends.

Donna was airlifted back to the University of Washington Medical Center about two weeks after we got home because of sever complications.

Donna then lost her year long battle with AML on March 15, 2015. 
This blog is not about that... it is one of 4 or 5 I will do in part so I always have a little piece of our past to view on paper and Donna's grandchildren may get a clearer picture of their Granny. It's rare that my PC would crash and take with it the external hard drive, but if by chance it were to ever happen then I should be able to retrieve the blog from Google.

Just plain meeting people and asking questions.


Rodney's...Rodney has a BBQ place in the center of the old   Wilcox, Arizona. Donna was always up for trying anything other than a chain restaurant. I remembered her and Rodney talking for more than an hour, most of it about him moving out here from Chicago. Four years later while taking a bike ride through Arizona by myself I thought I'd stop at Rodney's. First thing Rodney says is " HI, where's that lady friend of yours". She never realized just what an impression she left on folks.

Some surfer dude she met on a Long Island, New York beach.

A year or two after 9/11, Donna walks up to give her condolences to the men...they loved her. (thought I may have to fight to get her back)

The owner of a blueberry packing plant in Montana.

Firefighting supervisors in North Fork, Idaho.

One of the firefighters, directing and explaining the helicopter water lifts to Donna.

A contractor in Salem, Oregon that worked for NOAA and explained all about what the high altitude balloons do and record, then allowed Donna to launch

A seasonal logger who was cutting and splitting wood for a backwoods cabin in Montana that anyone may stay overnight.

Donna grab us a private tour of the Oregon State Capital.

A couple of good "ole" boys in Bisbee, Arizona taking kindly to Donna's good natured teasing. It did not matter where we traveled, Donna never set out to make friends, she was just curious about other people.

Some folks Donna met were travelers, such as us.

The group at the Rivers Fork Lodge and RV Park on the North Fork of the Salmon River.

Same resort on the Salmon River, different year and different folks to remember.

"Friends for life".

Age meant nothing to Donna. Ruth, a single neighbor across the street from our house was a substitute mother for Donna, and Donna was a substitute daughter for her in return. Donna was her friend and a casual caretaker for 14 years until the day she died in 2004.

Donna and I have some friends (Sam and Glenda) together that go back 40 years or more, but I'd have to attribute those steadfast relationships to Donna's insistence of always sending a card or two a year from both of us.

I'm sure Nona won't enjoy me putting her into the 40 year club...sorry.

Harold and Fran from our Reno days.

Judy might also get upset if I mention how far back the three of us go. (Judy has been quite the shoulder for me to cry on at times)

Bonnie and Len from our old Reno stomping grounds, always require a stop, according to Donna.

Ah......."The famous lunch bunch"!

Donna was loyal, to a fault, with her lunch bunch girlfriends. It annoyed the hell out of me because when we'd be on a short vacation she'd spend so much time shopping for the girls had to be just right! I'm like "just buy something"..."no, I haven't found it yet".
It matters not how good she was with them, they filled some void in her life I never could...and for that I am eternally grateful.

Lets see if I can remember them all. There's Carie, Betty Jo, Cathy, Kathleen, Donna, Diane and Nancy. 

They'd party at each ones birthday.

They'd party at Christmas, Kwanzaa name it.

Having a party at some bar.

In a campground.

In a didn't matter!

But sometimes they'd just go for long walks, deep in the woods, apparently as long as some shopping was nearby. 

Hours before Donna passed, she required the maximum amount of oxygen they could give her. We'd talk in short 10 or 15 second spurts until I could see her stats plummeting, then I'd would put the O2 mask back on.
Cathy called me and asked if she could call Donna one last time. I told her that Donna phone was off and she is too weak so Cathy asked if she could leave a message on my phone that Donna could listen with.
I told Donna of the message and she just reached out without a word for the phone while I lifted her mask. Donna put the phone up to her ear and it stayed that way for more than 3 minutes. I tried gently interrupting so she might get some much needed oxygen, but Donna had a steel grip on the phone. I later asked Cathy if I could listen to it, then asked if I could publish it... yes to both.

 Hi honey, I'm so sorry that you, Tom and your family must go through this. I just wanted to tell you that years ago, before you joined the group, I prayed that God would send me a friend that was more like me. I'd say, "God I have so many friends and I love them all but I just wish I had a friend that was more similar to me", then you showed up. A little Martha Stewart, so funny, so crafty... you were just someone that was more of my temperament. I secretly thought of you as my favorite. Now I'm going to miss you and I'll miss our cocktails at every get-together...where it was more about what food we'd make and then looking online for new cocktails. Ya, the food was all great but "what are we going to drink tonight" seemed more important. (nervous-laughter) 
Oh honey, when we talk about you it will be sad for a while, but just telling funny stories and keeping you in our hearts will be enough for now. I know that I have an angel close by me and you'll be there watching over us. In the blink of an eye, for you anyhow but longer for us, we will see each other again.

I love you honey and everyone will be there waiting for you, Nancy, your mom and dad, but don't worry we'll keep an eye out for you down here by keeping you close to our hearts and I will always set a place for you sweetie, I love you so much... God bless, goodbye sweetie and I'm not crying,(she was) I just want to laugh and remember all the good times baby. You're so brave, I love you, God bless and goodbye... no not goodbye, till we meet again.

Shortly after this call, Donna fell into a coma, one that she never woke from. I've often thought that this was such a beautiful message to fall asleep to...thank you Cathy