Sunday, February 5, 2012

Goodbye, My Friend

I lost an old friend recently.   We were an unlikely pair.   I moved into an apartment in her farm house at 19, recently graduated from high school,  newly married and ready to start college.  She was 47, never married, a former egg farmer and an eccentric Yankee.    

Barbara  was a one-of-a kind woman.  She was handier around machinery than most men, made frugality an art-form, was a tidy hoarder, hated change, had a great, if slightly odd, sense of humor, could eat more than a farm hand , had very definite ideas about things, and would try most anything once.  She loved anything with a motor!  I can still see her riding the neighbor's snow mobile- her 6 foot frame crammed into the seat, legs bent to her chin, hair flying and a look of absolute joy on her face.

She had a wonderful  old Yankee way of talking.  She talked about having "gumption" - a trait she valued highly.  When I'd obsess about some minor imperfection, she'd offer this insight:  "Dear, it'll never be seen on a trotting horse".  

My oldest son and daughter were born while I lived in her house.  Carpenter Son followed her around the farm; she called him "Boy" and talked to him as if he were a grown-up. She was the one who scooped him up when he ran out into the busy road. She ate all of their cooking creations, even when I warned her not to!

I worked on dragging her into the current century.  Once while we were on a road trip I decided to go through the drive-up window at  McDonald's.  As I pulled up to the  window, she remarked ,"Dear, you're driving really close to the building" - she had never been through a drive-up window and never had fast food.  It didn't take long for her to become very fond of french fries!  We worked on updating her wardrobe so it would only be a couple of decades out of style.  While she didn't really care how old her clothes were, she was very concerned about how they fit.  I started making some dresses for her and honestly, I doubt The Queen Mother had as many fittings!

She taught me so many things - how to make the best-ever creamed corn, how to identify spots to harvest fiddlehead ferns, how to enjoy an entire Cadbury chocolate bar on the drive home from work at midnight, how being kind looks, what it really means to turn the other cheek, and how to dust yourself off and move on.

I think I began my fascination with  old and shabby  vintage things while I lived with her.  We'd spend hours going through old family photos - she knew how everyone was related, down to the "second cousin, twice-removed".  There were several outbuildings on the farm, full of stuff she knew would be useful someday.  I never knew that people repaired metal pails until she unearthed several and was not amused at my suggestion to just throw them out and get new ones.  This great window-turned-mirror  was from one of her chicken coops.  She did not understand why on earth I'd put it in my house!  I love it, not only for the great arched shape, but because it reminds me of her.

What really made her special was her kindness, her sense of humor and her reluctance to ever say anything bad about anyone. She gave life to the word "humility" and lived to help others.  She embraced me with all my faults, was a kind and loyal friend for decades, and I'll miss her.


  1. What a beautiful eulogy for a wonderful friend. You must have been such a blessing for one another. I'm sorry for your loss.

  2. What a beautiful story of a beautiful friendship. You are truly blessed to have had such a friend. I am sure she felt the same way.

  3. What a lovely and touching legacy you wrote for your friend, and she sounds so much like me! I am sure I would have loved her as you did. I am sorry for your loss.

  4. I am so glad to read your story of friendship with this lovely lady. The story, and pictures it brought to mind are priceless. I know 5 years from now your words will be a fresh breeze to you and later on your children have your words to cherish.
    Your artwork is no slouch either girl!!
    i enjoyed stumbling into your sight from all things tim

  5. Thanks to you all for your kind thoughts. Glad I could share a little about my special friend!


  6. So sorry for your loss, but it sounds like you have many treasured memories of your long journey together thru the years.


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