Remember my mom’s friend, Stacy?
She spoke of her often. They were across-the-street neighbors, who coincidentally shared the same Oncologist. It’s great to share things with your neighbors – mutual friends, rakes, cobbler recipes…
But sharing the same Oncologist – it just rarely ends the way we want it to.
The first time I ever heard of Stacy was when mom told me about her sweet, pretty, young neighbor who had a very similar blood disease to hers. It was, “Stacy this and Stacy that” for many years before I ever had occasion to meet her.
(You know I was always burning up I35 – rushing in and out of Dallas trying to be a dutiful daughter, but trying to get back home to you and the kids as fast as possible.)
Remember another time Stacy’s name came up was when my mom was coordinating an outing with Stacy’s junior high son. She wanted to “do something special” for “this nice young man,” since his mom had been in the hospital so much.
Being the mother of two male teens, I was immediately concerned. I confessed to you I wasn’t sure if I was feeling concern for my mom or concern for the boy, but I was pretty certain this “date-night” might not go the way my mom was envisioning.
Mom wasn’t one bit worried.
“I told him I was taking him on an outing,” she boasted, clearly tickled with herself. “Dinner and a movie! He can pick any movie and restaurant he wants to go to. I’m not going to influence him one bit. But, we just got a brand new Olive Garden!”
“Oh Lord!” I complained to you behind mom’s back, “There’s no way this kid really wants to hop in a Buick with a 78 year old woman for dinner and a show.”
I was so wrong. But I didn’t figure that out until later.
Toward the end, when my mom got really sick and I was required to be down at her house in Dallas most of August and September, I had a chance to finally meet Stacy, her husband Cory and their son, Parker.
Parker was anxious to breeze through the compulsory introductions so he could go back to the bedroom to spend time with “Miss Doris.”
That’s how sweet he was and how wrong I was.
There’s so much more to this story. This family turned out to be a saving grace as mom passed away. They simply couldn’t do enough for us. From grilling burgers, to setting up medical equipment, to coordinating a garage sale – they were omnipresent.
One day Stacy informed me her husband, a Realtor, would sell my mother’s house for us (when the time came) for practically no commission. My first thought, as a seasoned wife of 33 years, was, “Oh my sweet girl! He’s gonna get on to you later for saying that!” But Cory just nodded his head in genuine accord.
They both continued to say how their only desire was that they wished there was more they could do to help Sweet Miss Doris.
What baffled us on every occasion we dealt with this family was how in the world all 3 of them could be so loving, so Godly and so authentically kind.
At the same time.
We certainly liked to think of ourselves as a good family, but we definitely took turns doling out the kindness. And I let you take the reins entirely in the generosity department. That was always your thing.
But my point is, we spaced out our reservoir of goodness.
You and I talked about them at length as we rode back to Oklahoma the evening after we closed with the new buyers on Mom’s house. Mainly because Stacy insisted on riding all the way across town to the closing with Cory, so she could “hold my hand” through what she knew would be “a difficult time” for me.
She also added, in a very Texasy way, that what she really wanted was to just “hug my neck!” We chuckled at that expression. I told you I thought it was sort’ve a nostalgic Country-thing…the proverbial neck hug.
Like the song my mom always sang to us, and then we, in turn, sang to our kids:
“I love you a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck, and a hug around the neck, a hug around the neck and a barrel and a heap, a barrel and a heap and I’m talking in my sleep about you – about you.”
So she hugged my neck and sat there and dried my foolish tears, as I remembered all the happy times in my mother’s home. Neither of us suspecting a thing…
…As you and Cory signed paperwork, she and I played out in the waiting room like little girls with the title company’s Keurig machine, sipping their free hot cocoa. We had no idea that in about one half of a year, both she and you would depart from this Earth, leaving me and Cory to pick up the pieces of our and our children’s broken hearts.
When I passed through Dallas on Father’s Day, I was blessed with the opportunity to go say goodbye to my mother’s-friend-who-incidentally-became-my-friend. Reaching for my hand, she asked me if I wanted her to deliver any messages to you and my mom. I said,
“Yes, tell them both I love them and then you fuss hard at Jimmy for buying that motorcycle!”
She giggled weakly as her eyes fluttered shut, promising she would.
And then it was my turn.
I promised her that her guys would be okay. I assured her that, just like you, she laid a perfect foundation of strength, resiliency and an enduring legacy of love to carry her family through.
Our job is to simply stay the course. Keep the rudder straight. And we will. I know somehow we will.
I hope she’s up there giving you the business about that bike right now. That’s from me. And also hugging your neck.
Thats from me too.