Thursday, June 15, 2017

I lost a friend today

Ramona as a child -the oldest one in the middle

1. Today a friend of mine, Ramona,  died of ovarian cancer. She wasn't a super close friend, though i've known her for over 30 years from our school district work. Her mom Hildegard lived in my condo community and was a good friend of our good friend Dorothy who died ten years ago so our paths kept crossing occasionally. (I always got a kick out of Hildegard.) 

When Hildegard died over a year and a half ago that's when Ramona and i started getting together. And a few months after, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She sent me a message and said she hoped i would be a part of her support team, but added that she understood if i was uncomfortable with that. That's the part that got me -  that Ramona knew it was not something people might be able to do. And truthfully i wasn't sure i was up to it, but i felt i might be ...because of my mom. So i wrote her back and said let's hook up. 

2. My 82 year mom Elodie is a survivor of ovarian cancer- She was diagnosed with stage 4 when she was 65 years old. I went to the doctor's appointment with her that day because Elodie doesn't listen well and doesn't ask questions. 

There were two doctors in the room at Madigan who told Elodie she had stage four. My dad i'm pretty sure did not know what that meant. But I did because i had researched before the appointment. And when my mom hugged the two doctors and seemed excited i was certain she didn't know either. It wasn't until later that i understood that she thought there were TEN stages. We never told her that stage 4 was the worst... (especially for ovarian cancer). And 17 years later my mom is still alive and i think it's in part because she had such a great attitude and didn't know. 

Ramona wasn't uniformed about her diagnosis of course, but she did have that same kind of positive attitude and i thought it would get her through too- maybe not like my mom, (because Elodie is indestructible, like a cockroach, and will outlive us all),  but i thought Ramona had lots more time. 

3. I was not expecting to be so sad today when i heard this news. She was not my very best friend. She's not my longest friend. And we didn't do a lot together until the last year and a half. 

But i realized what it was that i am missing already.... and it's selfish i have to admit.  I didn't do THAT much for her but she made me feel like i did a lot. I am not that funny, but she let me know that she thought i was, especially on Facebook. In other words, she made me feel like i was a better person than i feel i am. Only a few people make me feel that way, which i deserve - considering my personality. 

4. What i really came to like about her is that she was so positive about so much. AND i loved that she was in no way passive aggressive, or pouty, or seething.... if something bothered her, she said told you. Ramona was very straightforward. A long time ago i made an offhand remark - some jokey thing about her flirting with guys (this was before she was married to her husband Paul) - and she called me on the phone later that day and told me that she didn't appreciate it. And i thanked her because she was right. And we were okay all the times i saw her next. Ramona was pretty fucking low maintenance, even when she shouldn't have been. 

5. Here's something about her teaching: About 15 years ago she had a little girl in her classroom who just happened to live in my condo community. I knew the little girl and her older brother well as they were always at the pool during the summer. Nice kids. And they had a VERY nice dad who was devoted to those kids but who later was sent to jail for something i don't know. And you could see it in the kids that they were troubled and missed their dad. When Ramona noticed that the girl started coming to school wearing her older brother's clothes she called me and Dorothy since we knew them. She was raising money to take the girl shopping to get clothes. Recently Ramona and I talked about that and she told me the student never wore the clothes that were purchased from the fundraising and we both laughed that she may have gotten it wrong because she realized the girl liked wearing her brother's clothes. 

She retired from teaching elementary school a few years ago. I was thinking today how she made me feel better about who i am and how as a teacher how wonderfully that must have translated to her students, the ones who really count. 

Rest in Peace, Ramona. I'm grateful that I did get the chance to know you better beyond just Facebook and the school district and the union. I really thought we had at least a few more games of Scrabble at Bur's and many more cups of coffee at Starbucks. It's weird because I keep waiting for you to 'like' a post on Facebook or to send a text. I hope that somehow you are able to read all of the Facebook posts about how much you will be missed. I will miss you too. 


amulbunny's random thoughts said...

I am sorry for your loss. Even though you weren't buddy buddy you had a connection.

Cheers to Elodie for her outlook on her cancer and her life. If she's full of pee and vinegar it's a good sign that you got some of that.

The yayas have lost a few in the past years, so fast and so sudden. Stitch, who worked in education in DC was gone in just over a couple of months. As we've gotten older, and gone through traumas in our own lives, it's hard to reconcile the fact that they are gone.

Enjoy your summer.

jojo cucina cucina said...

Amulbunny. thank you..... How are you? I heard about Stitch and i remember her from the YaYa board because she was one of the good ones. And so young. Gumbo was up for a very long time and it's weird to think that we were all so much younger then cause for me at least, it was 17 years ago when i joined. How about you?

pearl said...

Sorry for your loss - I had no idea your mom had OC. Way to kick cancer's ass, E!!

Losing too many too young, IMHO. So sad. I'm freaking out at the number of widows in our circle, these days. Guess it's a function of getting older.

jojo cucina cucina said...

So happy to see your here pearl! I see you posted on the previous one too. I'm going to change this soon.

Yeah, my mom is going to outlive us all. She also survived a major car accident in 1967. Went through the windshield and was in New Orleans hospitals for over a year, didn't know her name or her kids for nearly all that time and then one day snapped out of it, though she still has issues. Then she survives ovarian cancer, stage four! I don't know which stage Ramona had, she said the doctors told her they don't classify it in stages like that anymore.

equeyaya said...

Hey Jo, so sorry to see this about your friend Ramona. I'm always glad, though, to learn about people who made an impact and a difference in the world through how they lived their lives. It reminds me of the Jackson Browne song, "For a Dancer" (which I would like to have played at my funeral even though I'm a terrible dancer), where he says,

Into a dancer you have grown
From a seed somebody else has thrown
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
And somewhere between the time you arrive and the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive but you'll never know

Also I love hearing stories about the indomitable Elodie!

Sorry I'm not checking in here more. Hugs to you.

jojo cucina cucina said...

How fun to check here and see you here equeyaya! you and amul and pearl! I just came here to change the blog cause i have a night home alone while Brian is at band practice and i think now i'm going to put on some Jackson Browne cause you inspired me with your post. I love that song "For a Dancer". I missed Ramona's memorial because we thought Brian's mom was dying so we took off....but she rallied (and has continued to rally). So just last week i took over a card and some of my spaghetti meat sauce and a quart of pistachio ice cream for Baskin and Robbins (it was the ice cream i brought last time that Ramona told me her husband liked). And he was home when i went over and he got tears in his eyes and patted the breast pocket of his shirt. He was keeping Ramona's cell phone close to his heart. She did Facebook and text a lot. I told him i almost texted him using her phone (since i didn't have his number and i assumed he had hers) to let him know i was coming, but then i thought that might be too sad for him. It did make me stop and think how you might hold on to things like a cell phone and your texts (I have many texts from her that i have still not deleted)...and even something like a blog.

Anyway, thank you all for being here. Gonna write another. It might end up being a draft again though.

jojo cucina cucina said...

One more thing about her husband Paul. When i first went to their house a few months ago I realized the house was familiar and i asked if it had been headquarters during the Kerry/Bush election for doorbelling. And it WAS! And not only that Paul, who was single and not yet married to Ramona, was living there. He had offered his home for headquarters as we doorbelled that area. I had my niece Kylee with me that day too doorbelling. He said he kind of remembered us, but i'm not sure if he really did. And i didn't exactly remember him either, i just knew i was at that house.

B said...

Catching up on your blog! My mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer around this time, so I've been off the radar for the past many months. I appreciate you telling your story of Ramona and your mom. It sucks watching people you like/love going through it.