Pam had a birthday around Thanksgiving. Her daughters, ignoring her diabetic diet restrictions, showered her with rich food and desserts. Actually, they did that all the time.
Just looking at Pam, it was obvious that eating was a favorite activity. And to spend a few minutes with her, you'd learn that laughing and story telling were also favorites. The jolly fat person, with the hearty laugh and jiggling belly.
Before Christmas, she called me to her room and handed me a gift bag. I thought; She likes me so much she's gotten me a gift. How nice!
It wasn't for me.
She'd been looking through a toy catalog and saw a special spinning top. Two pieces attached, put them together, wind them up tight and push the button releasing the top to whirl crazily around flashing bright lights in several colors.
"I thought your Deaf son would appreciate it."
He did. We did.
She got a little weepy one night, looking at old photos of Christmas' past, when her kids were little. In detail, describing the parties they would have every year. The house wall to wall people. Needing to open the front and back doors to let the air flow through, as back then, everyone smoked.
Hazy pictures of smiling, smoking, drinking good times. Her husband a smaller person than she, but just as jolly.
I asked her how they'd met.
When Pam was fifteen, her twenty year old sister had a boyfriend Jack. They'd dated for some time, and before he set off to war overseas, gave her a ring. They'd be married when he returned.
He wrote to her every day. Months worth of letters piled up as her sister went on with her life. And found someone else. And mailed his ring back to him. She broke his heart.
Pam thought her sister was a jerk, and felt awful about what she'd done to Jack. So Pam started to write to him. For a year or two, they wrote back and forth, perfectly innocently; she still mostly a child, and he a soldier at war.
She was eighteen and working at a soda fountain when a uniformed soldier sat down at the counter.
It was Jack, coming to thank Pam for her letters.
Pam and Jack were married for forty something years. A set of twins, two other children, big house, big family, happy years.
Pam's sister married three times, never quite satisfied, never quite happy, never had children.
Pam lost Jack ten years ago, and remembered him to me often with a twinkle in her eye.
We lost Pam, unexpectedly, this morning.
I'd told her once, that had I the time, I would sit with her and type her stories for her, so full of them she was, and loved telling them. We both knew it wasn't likely to happen.
I did assume though, that I'd get to say goodbye to her.
Well. I guess I just did.