Idell… and Becoming a Witness (Part 1 of 4)

I am going to recount a relationship I had with a very dear friend and I am feeling quite reflective about life.

First, I am observing that life occurs in a cycle for all of us. When I was young it seemed that life was always expanding. I got married… my friends got married… we moved around town (boy did we move!) and everyone helped each other.

Then the babies started coming. Our families grew and grew.

At the same time, some of our older relatives started dying off. But since we were so young, they seemed very far removed from our own daily lives. Yes, my Aunt Doots had the oddest shade of black (almost purple) hair… and yes, Aunt Vera seemed to collect toilet paper for a living… but we were babes and none of this behavior related to us. We went to their memorials as a courtesy and never understood those aunts as real-life human beings who had gone through a very long life on the same path we were currently on.

I find it odd now that the thing I recall most about Doots was her hair color. Something us kids laughed about. I never spent time talking to her to find out anything personal about her. I never knew why she was single but had a daughter. I didn’t know if she liked cats or dogs or green beans or corn. I only know that at family reunions, she and her sisters would laugh a lot and they all doted on my dad. And she had that crazy purple-black hair.

I was two generations younger than Doots and focused on my own life and ones closer to my age. It wasn’t that I didn’t care. It was just that it was more interesting to be young and starting a family and wondering who was marrying who. The old folks were around but just didn’t seem very relevant.

Which shows how ignorant and wrong we were.

Now it is 40-some years later and my perspective on life has changed. It is part of the inevitable journey.

My kids are currently in the age 40 range. I am 63. And now my life is not so much expanding as shrinking.

Those folks who seemed “so much older” than me in the past are expiring now. And I hate it. I hate it with a passion. But I also realize that this is life as we all know it and it goes forward on a continuum. It happens to all of us and there is no way around it.

We go from young and arrogant… to middle-aged and settled (or fretful)… to older and suffering loss more often than we would like.

And lately, this has been my plight. In the past 5 months I have lost 4 people who were, in one way or another, extremely important in my life. There were 2 additional deaths of people I knew less well. Still… 6 people in 5 months… I’m feeling a bit battered by it. Plus I had my own health scare recently and spent several days in the hospital. All of this is quite sobering to say the least.

The latest loss was a VERY special friend. One of those friends you only get to have one or two of in a lifetime. If you’re fortunate.

Her name was Idell.

I met her 40 years ago.

She changed my life forever.

She was my true mother even though we were not biologically related.

And I want to tell you my story with this amazing woman…

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