Four years ago today, Mom died. And with her beloved cottage, I’m moving from museum mode, replacing ancient (read: uncomfortable) furniture and doing a bit of modernizing.
I’ve been here in Virginia for 2 weeks, and have replaced her main living room furniture (sofa & loveseat) with a lovely red leather set, sofa and two chairs. This morning, the painters will arrive to paint her bedroom – now referred to as the master bedroom – getting rid of some more gold – walls and carpeting – that permeated the house since its being built in the mid-70s. (Yep, Mom & Dad embraced the harvest gold/avocado green trend with gusto.) Mom had already painted the gold (yes, GOLD) paneling in the main room a neutral off-white, and replaced the gold carpet there with hardwood, so I’m just continuing her efforts.
At the end of the week, the flooring installers will take the gold carpet from that bedroom, and cover the floor (and gold linoleum in the master bath (en suite, for Canuck readers) with cork flooring. By next weekend, another large chuck of the house will be de-golded, leaving only 2 gold rooms left – guest bedroom and den.
But in the midst of all this activity, I still take time – must take time – to remember why I’m here as a human, and why I’m here in Virginia. In clearing out the bedroom for the painters, I ran across a note yesterday that Mom received just a few days before she died:
Was so happy that I got to visit you – just like “old times”. . . . May God bless you, and may the angels accompany you and take you to your new home! We will meet again! . . .
I thank you for being my wonderful friend. Love, Lou
The note was written on lined baby-legal pad paper – 5″ x 7″ or so, one side only, just a short note written in felt-tip marker. Lou was, perhaps, Mom’s oldest and dearest friend. They met in Washington, D.C., where they were neighbors with young families some 60 years ago, and the close friendship endured through Lou and her husband’s moving to this rural part of Virginia in their retirement, and Lou’s later move away. There was nothing that one wouldn’t do for the other. True, deep, long friends they were.
I won’t forget the day Mom received the note. Lou and one of her daughters had visited a week or 2 previously, and by the time the letter arrived, Mom was bed-bound. I read her Lou’s note while sitting with her at the side of her bed. I broke down while reading it when Lou wrote “May God bless you, and may the angels accompany you . . . “ It was an honest and hopeful approach to death and the beyond that Mom & Lou shared without question. The note shows my tears – the last 3 lines are smudged.
So I’ll proceed with the sprucing up the cottage, but I’ll also keep that note as long as I’m around. Sprucing up underscores that life is dynamic and goes on, and Lou’s note underscores that friendships can endure for life and beyond.
And Mom, if you’re up there (and I rather suspect you are) – I hope you approve of my choices, and know that you’re still missed by many.