By Judy Reiss
Now that I have decided to be comfortable with not just the idea of old age but that I am now that old woman, I am realizing just how lucky I am! I have a terrific husband who is extremely good to me, especially now that I can no longer work or get around the way I used to. I have four wonderful children who all have jobs, are good to their parents and not one of them is in jail! They were all good growing up and not one had a substance abuse problem. And they have given me eight amazing grandchildren. Two have graduated from high school, one of which is going into the Army and after he gets back from working on a schooner this year, Mac will be going to Mass Maritime. Charlie, the next oldest is graduating from high school this year and will be going into the Navy! Sea Bass (Sebastian) will be a senior in high school next year and he will be off to college the following year. The four younger ones are all happy, healthy and good at sports and super in school. I could never ask for more.
But I do have one more thing that makes me who I am today. I have two friends that have given me the life that I am able to live today. And although they know each other, one lives in Maine and the other in Waitsfield. Because they have both been so instrumental in my life today, I want to tell you about each one, separately.
Birgit lives in Maine and has been my friend for over 50 years. I met her when she first came to this country and then she and I worked together at the Valley Day School. Her husband, Alan, was not just a friend of mine. He and Malcolm lived together when they both were ski bums. Alan and Birgit met when he also played the piano at the Sugarbush Inn. They were married in October of 1965 and Malcolm and I were married in November. She had her daughter in July of 1966 and our Tobi was born in November. But then our lives separated a little. They moved to Michigan and then Florida and we stayed right here. But we stayed close in touch and I was thrilled when they moved to Maine about 15 or so years ago. Sadly, Alan died 3 years ago after several years of suffering with Alzheimer’s. Birgit and I have continued to talk on the phone once a day, every day for those 50 years. We have spent many vacations together and truthfully I think she is a saint. She has put up with me and my strange behaviors for years but nothing was worse than when we went to St. Lucia this year because I hadn’t known that the resort wasn’t handicapped accessible! Between Birgit and my wonderful Sarah and her wife Rene, they gave me the vacation of my life.
And the other person who has changed my life is my friend Cloe, who lives right around the corner. Now, I have known Cloe for years because her daughter, Sally, and my daughter, Polly, have been friends since they met when the Knights moved here when the girls were about 4. They terrorized the world for years and to tell you the truth, when they get together now, they still do! I knew Cloe, of course, but it wasn’t until several years ago that we became such good friends.
Cloe’s husband passed away and of course, I slowly began to lose the mobility that I had always assumed would be with me forever. Well, she began to pick me up to go downtown to have coffee/tea in the morning. And not just one morning, she comes, to date, every single morning and we go, for tea or mainly on Sunday morning, for breakfast. We go to Stowe for lunch with several friends twice a month and whenever one of us wants to do something else, like go yard saleing, we go, and Cloe picks me up. Now that might not sound like much to you, but my physical therapist and my doctor have told me that without my getting up and getting out, I could actually get worse and end up in a wheelchair, as soon as next year.
Now, of course, I have a moral to this story of two friends. Without them, my life would not be the happy and even the healthy one that it is today. But the moral is, if you are the one who needs good friends but are afraid to allow yourself to let go of the reins, forget it! And if you know someone who you would like to be friends with or whom you think needs a friend, go and be one! I would like to think that both Birgit and Cloe also enjoy our friendships and that although I no longer can contribute as much as I would like to or used to do, I do contribute something. So the moral is, be one or allow someone else to help you because I assure you, it will change your life, either way!