|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.