Just recently I sent in a Challenge Entry on the subject of Love and after reading the critiques realized that it should have been more detailed.
To be honest, I just wrote off the top of my head, because on May 18th it will be one year since my friend Norma passed away and those were my thoughts at the moment.
Actually, I did write much more about her. After she passed away I started to write, just for myself, a memoir about her and the time we shared together. It turned out to have a life of its own, for once I shared it with her daughters, family and friends began asking for their own copy.
The title of the memoir was Evenings From Seven to Ten, referring to the fact that every evening at seven o’clock she would turn on the light in her front picture window and I knew that was my “signal” that she was waiting for me to come spend the evening with her. The rest of the evening was spent watching tv or I’d watch tv while she happily chatted away the hours with loved ones who called or came to visit. Then, at ten o’clock she would turn off the television and walk me to her front door where she would give me a hug, then place her hand on my cheek, give me a kiss and say goodnight.
When I first met Norma in 2003 she was an 84 year old whirlwind and it was all I could do to keep up with her! When she wasn’t at her great grandkid’s basketball or softball games she was at her Bible Study or in her kitchen making homemade noodles. In her “spare” time she visited those her were homebound due to illness and always had her goody basket with her.
Norma’s house was filled with people, love and laughter. I had come from a small family of three and suddenly found myself in this delightfully madcap mixture of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandkids, great-grandkids, etc. They all came to regard me as an adoptee and I was affectionately known as “JudyB” since Norma’s own daughter was JudyA.
I lived with her for 6 months till I moved into an apartment across the street, the apartment where I could view her house and the special window. One day, before the apartment became available, I asked her if she minded my living in her house since she had been there alone for so many years. She was in the kitchen, I recall, and put down her spoon, walked over to me and said, “My heart would break if you left.”. That’s why we were both so excited when I found the apartment just across the way.
Norma fell twice and when she didn’t respond properly to medical attention, she was sent for tests and it was then the mesothelioma was found. She fought it with courage and determination but her age and the severity of the illness were against her.
She did not complain but was troubled most by the fact that her energy was gone and she could no longer be the Energizer Bunny, senior version.
Her humor remained intact and she had her funeral service planned down to the last detail and expected her wishes to be followed to the letter.
I would go to work, come home for a bite to eat, then scoot over to Norma’s and when it was time for hospice to be there, then I would sit by her bedside and chat or read to her from the Bible. I’m not sure she knew I was there but something inside says she did.
Our last “conversation” is still very clear in my mind. I was sitting in the blue wingback chair kept by her bedside for visitors and leaned down so I could look directly into her face. She must have sensed me looking at her, for she opened her eyes, smiled, squeezed my hand and went back to sleep, giving me just enough time to tell her how much I loved her, how much I would miss her and what a difference she had made in my life.
Norma taught me so much in such a short time. She taught me about unconditional love and the importance of hugs. She taught me about faith when she went to bed each night fully prepared for a good night’s sleep because she had taken care of the day shift and it was God’s turn to take care of the night shift. When problems arose Norma’s first response was prayer. Twice I went to her in tears over some problem and she said, “Well, we’ll just have to pray about it!”.
When I moved back to Brookville, I had all sorts of plans, and they weren’t bad, but they weren’t God’s plans. Looking back on the time I had with Norma, I can see now that He brought me into her life before she became ill so that when the time came to help care for her, I could do it because I genuinely loved her.
There will never be another “Normie” in my life and I am so blessed, even now, to have the memories she gave to me.