No matter where you live, for us, some things are the same. Our memories, our comfort from a loved one, our pets, and the love we feel from others. These are the things that carry us forward. Yesterday, I had an experience come full circle and it brought back so many good memories and love!
Lora and Steve were set to be married over July 4th weekend in 2000. We had been planning for months and everyone was so excited. Several days before the wedding, I remember like it was yesterday, I was at Lora’s house and all of the sudden Roger walked in. He hadn’t called my cell, but just showed up. I knew immediately something was wrong. He sat me down and said Granny had a stroke and it wasn’t good. Lora was immediately supportive telling me to “go” and be with my family. But, the wedding…. Nope, we’ll cover this, you go! Roger and Laura stayed home and I flew the next morning to Jacksonville, FL.
Lora was someone I met at Air Products when we moved to Allentown. She had two kids, Ashley and Kevin. Kevin was Laura’s age and Ashley a bit older. Laura and Kevin were at the same day care and became good friends. Lora and I quickly realized we had a lot in common beyond our children! As we became closer friends, we realized we were from the same area in Jacksonville, Florida. Longer story short, her Father and my Grandfather were friends as children when they lived in Georgia! Given our already strong friendship, when my Granny became sick, I knew Lora and Steve would understand the need for me to return Jacksonville. But anyone that lives away from family or people they love will know that it’s always the struggle of when to go and when to stay.
Lora and Steve continued preparing for the wedding and Mom and I started taking turns at the hospital with Granny in Jacksonville. Granny died within a week. When we scheduled the funeral, we could never have known the incredible outpouring of love that would occur. Some of Lora’s family had already returned from the wedding, and were back in Florida. Her sister came to the funeral to represent Lora and show her love for our family. You cannot imagine the love that you feel when someone shows up to pay their respects strictly because they love you or love someone that loves you.
Many years later, my Papa passed away. And, again, Lora’s family showed up at the funeral to show their love and respect. Then, Lora’s Mom passed. I was living in PA and didn’t make the trip to Florida, but guess who did go? My Mom! She lived in Tallahassee and made the trip to Jacksonville to attend the services for Mrs. Wright. To us, this was quite normal! Even if you don’t know the person that has passed, you have a love for their family.
Now the full circle part…. I work for a company called PROS. It’s a smaller company and one that has a strong culture of “family” and “caring”. PROS is based in Houston and I saw first hand the family culture as people helped one another through Harvey. Last week, one of our team members unexpectedly lost his Mom. Our team member is my daughter Laura’s age and his Mom was a young woman of 46. I got information from the team that the service was being held in Raleigh. Guess what? We have people there to help! Laura!
Laura and I texted and emailed information on location and timing of services and she did hesitate. She said, “Mom, I’ll be there”. We never had the conversation about Papa, Granny and Mrs. Wright. Laura’s boyfriend, Chad, (I hate calling him that because he’s the love of her life and we adore him), said, “hang on, did you know this person”? Laura explained it’s what we do. Then, she recounted the stories to me… “remember Mom when Lora’s family came to Papa and Granny’s funerals”. Laura was young when these things happened, but I LOVE that she remembers and knows this is important!
Laura said it best, “Mom, I went to the funeral and told him who I am, and that I’m here to show you that you have people that care about you”.
Yep, that’s what it’s all about. The memories, the comfort with a loved one, your pets, and the love you feel from others…. We are indeed the culmination of all of our experiences.