Saying Goodbye to our Friend

Laura Dodge's Dancing DollsAs we were moving into our Forest Lane apartment, we needed to assemble some of our new furniture. My tools had not yet made it over to our new home so I went knocking on my neighbors’ doors to see if I could borrow a hammer. Met with headshakes in the negative at each one I tried, I arrived at the last one. A spry older woman with a wonderful smile opened it. “Yes,” she said, “I have a hammer I can lend you.” That was approximately ten years ago and the beginning of a wonderful friendship with my neighbor Laura Dodge. I loved her spunk and her bright mind, but most of all I treasured her kind heart.

Over time as we visited and got to know one another, she told me her entertaining stories and shared her crafts with me. She also at my request shared space in her freezer with me. Over her protests I paid her “rent” in fruit sweetened jams and frozen desserts. She also had Stephen and me to tea and made popovers and other treats for us. I have recipes of hers in my collection that she wrote out in her tiny script. When she visited us in our apartment she admired my husband Stephen’s art. “Would you like to try collage?” he asked, and handed her a canvas. “Here, have fun.” She began to turn out wonderful collages of her own, asking for guidance from her teacher, as she called Stephen.

As her canvasses mounted and her skill increased, Stephen arranged for her to have art shows two years running at a restaurant in Worcester. Many came to her openings and admired and purchased her collages. We invited her to our birthday parties and she became popular with our friends. Everyone loved her stories. We included her in some of our shopping trips, took her to the Worcester Art Museum, and through a car wash, which she said was a first for her. When at Stephen’s suggestion she began to make dolls, we had fun helping her with designs. Eventually we loaned her a cabinet to keep them in.

When we met she was quite able physically, considering. As time went on and her physical health became worse, she couldn’t get out as much as she used to. Many of the evenings that she was home I would go down and visit with her. She had pain in her legs and in her back. At her request, I did some energy healing for her, singing to her and using my hands to remove painful energy and replace it with healing energy.

The day came when she could no longer live by herself. When she moved out we were both sad to part. We moved too very shortly, yet we kept in touch by telephone nearly every day. It was always a joy to hear the stories of her life and daily doings. Despite her many ailments and illnesses, she was so very filled with life. One of my favorite things she told me was, “It’s a small life, but I make it interesting.” Laura was an inspiration to me and to many others as well. I will miss her always.

Do you have a story to share with me or a suggestion for a column? I love hearing from readers. Send me an email at tashahal@gmail.com.

Friendship By Tasha Halpert

Tasha and Brenda          My friends have always been important to me. From the time I was quite small I have enjoyed the company and companionship of at least one or two close friends, and often more. Their lives and the experiences they have shared with me have become part of my life and my experience. At times I have for one reason or another suffered the loss of a close friend and mourned it as though it were a death. As time has gone on however, I have become more comfortable with the coming and going of people in my life, and I have realized that the hole left behind is soon filled.

As my life has been long, I have made as well as lost many friends. Some have been older than I though mostly as time goes by younger. In my heart I am very grateful for all the friends I have made. Whether the friendships were long or short, all have given me something to cherish. What seems to me to be most fortunate is that I still make friends with individuals younger than I am. This will prevent me from having to say–as someone remarked to me recently–that most of my friends have passed on.

My mother once told me that my great grandmother Florence told her, “All my friends are dead and I have no one to play bridge with.” Apparently she died soon after. She was well on in years, so I’m sure that was no coincidence, still it strikes me as a bit sad. I have been fortunate to have made many friends throughout my life in a variety of ways. Given the times and the formality of her life perhaps she did not have all of the opportunities I did.

When I was a young mother most of the people I called friend were women who had children of their own. We did things together. Often we would meet at the beach and watch our children play in the sand or in the waves at the edge of the water. We’d take turns bringing iced tea to share, visit together, and chit chat about life in general and motherhood in particular. Later, groups I belonged to such as the PTA or an amateur theater group brought friendships that flourished and then faded as our lives changed and we parted ways.

When I was quite young I had pen pals from distant countries. Through my writing I have also made friends that I have never actually met. At one time I published a bi monthly newsletter called Peacemail. Some of my subscribers became friends I never saw face to face yet enjoyed corresponding with. Now there is the Internet and FaceBook; correspondence is virtually instantaneous. My list of unseen friends has grown lengthy. While I do not expect to meet most of them, I have on occasion had a visit from someone I’ve met in that way.

Friendships flourish in many different ways. The soil of their growth may be shallow or deep, the time spent together short or long. What matters to me is what we have to give one another, whether it is comfort, recipes, advice or companionship. There is a saying that people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. I never know which it will be, and I cannot care. However it may end, what matters is that a friendship is formed, and for that I am grateful.