Friday, July 25, 2008

Endings

Sticking a landing has never been my forte.

Initially, this afternoon's post was to have been about the conclusion of Vacation Bible School: the generosity of adults spending hours (often taking vacation time from work to do so) with children, their commitment to teaching right from wrong, their creativity and energy spent devising activities to keep young people occupied and focused on things truly important. The caliber of individuals who at the sacrifice of their own sense of "cool," don't befriend kids so much as guide them -- and provide a loving, consistent example.

Following a closing ceremonies ice cream party wherein each participating child's name was acknowledged, we piled together all our memories of the week -- both hand-crafted and bestowed in love -- clutched them close to our hearts, gave hugs and made promises to see each other again the next time around.

As the kids decompressed from the morning's extravaganza, an email I'd been dreading arrived: Berta's mom was gone.

My Berta is "that friend" from high school. The one that when yammering animatedly on the phone as teens, my father suggested simply opening the window and saving the AT&T bill. The one that when I hear "Born to Run" on the car radio, I still feel compelled to roll down the window and sing at the top of my lungs -- imagining her face in the passenger seat of my mind's eye. The one that even though she lives halfway across the country and we speak only a few times a year, when I pick up the phone and hear her voice, three decades of history are like a mere minute passed and we collapse into fits of giggles and kindred spirit.

As if raising a friend of that quality wasn't enough, Ms. Blaz was "that mom." The one you could count on to roll her eyes when you and your pal walked through the door with 7 scoops of ice cream each to watch "The Thorn Birds," but her twinkling grin was unrestrained. The one who was just as proud of you as your own parents with each and every achievement made. The one who never made you feel silly for your adolescent emotions and foibles, but possessed calm confidence, somehow knowing (even when you didn't) that you were going to turn out okay.

We all did turn out okay; and that's due in no small part to Mrs. Blaz. A woman generous with both home and time, spending hours with her daughter and friends. A woman committed to teaching right from wrong. A woman possessed of creativity and energy spent devising (and supervising) activities to keep young people occupied and focused on things truly important. She was the caliber of individual who at the sacrifice of her own sense of "cool," didn't befriend us kids so much as guide us -- providing a loving, consistent example.

She's left a legacy in a daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren who are incomparably dedicated to their friends, their family, their faith.

In my mind, I'm piling together all sorts of memories. In my heart, I hope Ms. Blaz knows I'm sending her hugs -- clutching her close to my heart, and making a promise we'll see each other again the next time around.

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10 comments:

the schirano triplets said...

oh honey, lots and lots of hugs coming your way. i am so sorry for your loss. and i am so sorry for your friend's loss.

Threeundertwo said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. When my father-in-law died recently, some of the most touching comments were from men who had been young friends with my husband. What a gift to make such an impression on kids who are not your own.

Missy said...

Cheryl, I am very sorry for the loss of your friend's mother. And I deeply sorry for your friend. Your words are a wonderful portrait of these two people. I know Ms. Blaz loved your words. Keeping you all in my prayers.

Tracy said...

I'm so sorry about Mrs. Blaz...

Nancy said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your childhood "second mom." I hope you and your friend are able to talk about all the wonderful memories and laugh and cry together for a long time.

Harris Boys said...

oh cheryl, that was beautifully written. so sorry for your loss. mrs. blaz sounded like a wonderful woman and mom. I'm sure she will be missed :(

TONYA said...

Cheryl, I'm so very sorry for your loss. Big hugs coming your way. She sounded like an amazing woman.

cat said...

Lots of love - sorry about your loss. Once in a while we meet people who really play a part in our lives and whom we remember all our lives.

Laura said...

I'm sorry, Cheryl. She sounds like a wonderful person for you to have had in your life.

Christy said...

Aw,Cheryl. I guess you really were feeling my pain week before last... I'm so sorry for your heart.
xoxo
Christy