Friday, October 24, 2008

The miracle of Cris...

We just said goodbye to our friend Cris.  

Cris has always hated goodbyes and so every time we have visited her or she visits us there is always that dreaded time to say goodbye when Cris cries like she is never going to see Beth again and then Beth gets weepy and then I have to find something to distract me, like starting the car and adjusting the mirrors because I can't seem to talk at that moment.  It is always difficult because we leave Cris with tears running down her cheeks as she waves with her big toothy smile and her eyes squinted shut like she does whenever her smile is bursting out.

On Wednesday we said our goodbyes in an entirely different way.
Cris' eyes were dry and wide-eyed.  She was calm as we kissed and said thank you to each other.
Normally when we leave we always thanked her for the good time we had during the visit, but on this three day visit, we really were not having fun, and when we were thanking Cris on our way out, we were thanking her for the friendship we shared for the last 33 years or so.  
We will never see Cris again and we are going to miss her so terribly.  
She has lost her battle with Cancer and is just "waiting for the miracle".
Up until recently she seemed to think that the miracle would be to wake up one day and be healthy and energized again but I feel that she might finally have realized that the "miracle" that she has been waiting for is the gift of peace.  She has finished her work, it is time to rest.  She will be remembered fondly by all those that knew her, her laughter, her caring, her laughter, her mothering, and her laughter.  Cris loved to laugh.  She made other people laugh.  

I was sorry to hear Cris say that she was scared of death and we tried to make her feel better by reminding her that both of her parents and Derek had already done it and we haven't heard any regrets from them.  It is a natural process that is something to be looked forward to.  The timing isn't always exactly when you planned, but it is better to be early than late, which goes against Cris' entire "if I am not very late, I am waaaay too early" philosophy of scheduling.

Cris is always late for everything.  Everybody lies to her about the time of an appointment and she STILL will be very late.  Cris did not like to have other people drive her places because she might get there early which really irritated her.  I remember taking Cris and Beth to the airport once many years ago.  I was worried that we were running late because there was only twenty minutes to go before the flight when we pulled up to the sidewalk but Cris surprised me with a hissy fit "I knew we would get here too early! NOW what are we going to do for twenty whole minutes!".  I couldn't stop chuckling for a week.
This was the only flight that Beth took with Cris that the plane's door wasn't held open by a stewardess as they ran to the plane and slammed shut behind them.  Cris could never see the point of sitting on a plane waiting for other people to board, there were too many things to do.

If you flew with Cris you had to wear shoes that were good for running.

A few weeks ago Beth met Cris, Louise (Cris' sister), Rachel (Cris' daughter), and Jeanne (Cris' bestest Florida friend) in Sedona Arizona for a "going away" vacation.  They shared a lot of tears and visited the Grand Canyon in a limousine that came with a tour guide (the cost of the limousine and guide, the hotel expenses, and Cris' plane tickets was a gift from her many friends in Florida).  It was a wonderful way to spend your final vacation and Cris has since decided that she would like her ashes to be placed in Sedona.  

The three or four of you that read this blog probably remember Cris from occasional visits to the Annual4th parties.    Cris and Beth first met when they started working at the Foxboro Company on the same day in the mid 70's.  They quickly became friends and made arrangements for the "guys" to meet.  There were a lot of warnings and disclaimers to try to pre-apologize for each other's guy and what they may say or do while out in public, but I got along great with Dan S the first time we met, and between the good food, drinking, and constant laughing, the four of us couldn't help but become very close friends.

Eventually Beth and I had to move to New York so we moved there via a three day visit at the annual blue grass festival that Cris, Dan, Beth, and I went to every year.  The same festival that we met Jeff R at.  Dan and Cris had "the Peanut", one of those impossibly little round campers that was handy to hide in when security came around to check our wristbands.

Cris eventually drifted off to Florida searching for the unknown and settled in Clearwater, got married to Rick Gard and had a cute baby named Rachel.  Rick works on huge construction projects that take two to ten years each, so Rick would only be home a couple of weekends a month.  
Rick told me that he was looking for two qualities in a woman.  She had to be strong because he would never be home, and she had to be a good mother.  Cris was both.  They didn't always get along but she was very very strong and independent, and she was a great mother.  Rachel is a happy beautiful girl in her early twenties, Cris has a multitude of friends in Florida, and Rick takes a leave of absence from work when Cris needs help to battle her cancer.   He is taking VERY good care of her, being very patient and strong when she needs it the most.
Cris liked being good friends with guys but never really liked being a "wife".
If Cris ever felt that there was a chance of being forced to conform, even if she wasn't but Cris suspected that others just may expect it of her, she would rebel.  Above all, Cris was a rebel.   
Her rebel instincts would sometimes cause her to make decisions that she would later regret.  She would admit to Beth and I that a mistake had been made as she told us about some event, but she would never even consider backing down.  She was a stubborn cuss.  If she had committed to something that she knew wasn't going well, she would see it through to the end.

Cris loved to perform in plays and she loved to dance to bad music.  That thumping dance beat music that has always been lurking around, will continue to be produced, and will be played by radio stations with "kiss" in their tag line.  I would be shaking my head in disbelief that anyone could like this stuff and I would look at Cris and she would have her eyes closed, her teeth displayed like a peacock and she would be bouncing with the beat.

Cris loved good food.  She was a great cook and loved eating.  
Cris loved to take naps.  I always enjoyed visiting Cris because a group nap was always involved.
Taking a nap in the same room with someone has always been quality time for me.

Cris loved parties.  Especially costume parties.  I think there are pictures on this blog from last year's Halloween party .  

Beth had been on the phone with Cris constantly until a little while ago when Cris would sometimes be too tired to talk.  Cris not talking on the phone, that was heartbreaking.
Fortunately she is still talking, she just isn't long winded.
She has not eaten in many weeks, so is very thin.
She is still able to smile when asked and she is still in command.
Louise is staying there for a while so that she can tag-team with Rick for trips to the store.

If you would like Cris' contact info, just let me know.

We are really going to miss Cris, she is such a good friend.  A Rebel, a mother, a friend.
Beth's bestest buddy.

I am praying that the miracle comes soon.

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A week in Hell

Beth and I went to Bowman's beach a few days ago and this young woman sat down in a large pile of shells right behind us to start playing.  Sanibel has truckloads of shells washed up on shore every day.  There are more than anyone could imagine.  This island is known as a shell collector's mecca.

This woman was thrilled with the shells.  I commented to Beth that she reminded me of a teeny bopper sitting on the floor with all of her 45's strewn around her.  Beth said that she agreed, that woman DID look like little Bethy did at thirteen years old.

I went off into the water to collect some Lightning Welks, Lettered Olives, Flame Augers, and Lace Murex.  During my hunting expedition the couple behind Beth left the beach.  Beth said that the woman didn't want to go, but the guy left for the car and she eventually followed.

Five hours later Leslie, Beth, and I were walking along our beach when I noticed a pretty thin woman with little shorts standing at the edge of the surf excitedly cupping two hands worth of shells and letting the sand and water fall out while wiggling her fingers to filter the "perfect shell" from the rest.  It is a common technique around here.  
There is the "Sanibel Stoop" which is walking along with your head hanging forward scanning the sand and holding a plastic supermarket bag in one hand.  People are in such a trance looking at the dazzling array of shells under their feet that we have seen porpoises swimming right offshore from a "sheller" and they never even notice.
There are the petite collectors, that walk with a black plastic bag from a jewelry store and only select the finest of the finest.
I myself use the harvesting technique.  My pockets bulge out like the cheeks of a chipmunk from all of the shells that Beth and I put in them.  They get  sorted later.
This excited young woman was using the "lift and filter" technique.  If you stand in one spot, enough shells are removed and deposited at your feet with every wave that you can bend over and pick up another fresh batch every ten seconds or so.
This woman was going to check out every batch.  She seemed a little too excited.
She would jump up and down while waiting for the shells to expose themselves, then she would dump out what was left in her hands and scoop up another batch, hold them up at eye level and bounce in anticipation.
Her guy was trying to distract her so that they could move on.  It wasn't going to happen.
She was going to be planted there until the ocean stopped giving her shells.
If he tried to get too close to her to convince her to move on, she would move her arms out in the universal "keep away, I am busy" sign language, and then bend over and scoop.  She would attempt to get him to help find "the perfect shell" and he would look around a little and then go back to staring at the horizon.  This was a busy day on the beach so there were people walking by finishing up their beach combing before the spectacular sunset would signal the official end of shelling for the day.  This guy was going to be there for a while.
When I went by him the second time he was staring at the horizon and clenching his teeth.  He did not seem like he was having a good time at all.  The waves were splashing his knees while his very cute lady was almost hysterical at the joy of shell shopping.

Don't ever ever bring your O.C.D. girlfriend/wife to a beach that is known for shelling.

Much later as the sun was going down, you could see her silhouette far away, bending over, hold em' up, bending over.
Can you imagine him describing his vacation to people at work when they ask if he had a good time?  "Yeah everything was fine until she found the freakin' shells!"  
"All week long, those freeeeeakin' shells!"

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Where to vote.

Television stations don't really put a lot of effort into public service announcements because they just don't seem to make any profit on them.

In Florida they start two weeks early with "Early Voting" which is a system that they use down here because there are just so many registered voters and so few residents who can count, and from what I understand, it really frees up the pressure on election day.  
At a friends house, I saw a silent Public Service Announcement displayed between commercials that listed voting locations (any time the TV stops barking at me, it gets my attention).  My favorite was a polling place that could be easily found because it was across the street from the "Quaker Steak Lube".
OK, I am not eligible to vote in Florida, but I drool like Pavlov's old Harley every time I think of that retaurant and what the after effects might be.

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