I haven’t written in a number of days and I feel the disconnect acutely, The thoughts rattle around in my head, sudden inspiration, ideas for a post. I think I’ll write about, wait what was that? that’s an even better idea. OK that’s definitely going to be the subject. I bounced back and forth between light hearted and the somber as I drove home from Maryland. It was your basic, high speed, brain numbing endurance test, Ten hours of mostly monotonous sights, repetitious sounds and lots of time to think, ponder and ruminate.
Until I saw “Welcome to West Virgina”
Looking into a half dozen boxes I found stashed in dark corners of my psyche I found the one labeled “lost friends.” This box contains the memories of those that I have been close to at some time and have lost for a number of reasons. The majority have just moved on taken a different path, moved enough so that letters don’t forward, their emails bounce back. I have lost track of them but don’t have any reason to assume that they don’t still walk this earth. There are a few however, that won’t be showing up unexpectedly, there won’t be any surprise phone calls or birthday messages. They have passed on, left this world and gone on to whatever does or doesn’t come next.
One of those people for me is Phyllis Garcia, As soon as I opened that box, I saw her standing there just like the last time I saw her. I hadn’t thought of her in a long time, and her sudden appearance had me remembering all the times we shared. I smiled as I remembered, I could hear her voice, her distinctive West Virgina accent. I recalled the cheerful smile, the easy banter. We had worked together for only a couple of years, but in a company where everyone else was born within a mile of the office, we were the outsiders. We supported each other, it was us against them. Eventually I got fired and she moved but I always stayed in touch with her. I tracked her through industry friends,after she moved. Later I tracked her down through her daughter when she moved to Texas. She was always so happy to hear from me, when I would say hello she would scream my name. She always promised to call me but she never did, but that was OK, I accepted the burden of staying in touch. I would wait six months or so, maybe more but then I would call again and we would talk for hours, and so it went for more than 20 years. She did share with me that she had been diagnosed with colon cancer, but that she was OK taking chemo and was going to be fine.
Then the time came to call, it had been the prerequisite six month absence. She didn’t answer the phone but that’s OK she was always busy, I didn’t leave a message. I waited a month and called again, no luck. I did this for I don’t know how long. I then started leaving messages, I don’t recall how long it took but finally I got a call. I recognized the phone number but when I answered I didn’t recognize the voice. It was the man that she was living with, after all that she had shared with me about him I felt I knew him but I had never spoken to him before.
What he said took my breath away, He said, “I’m sorry Phyllis is gone”
What?, When?, How?
She passed away about 6 months ago, It was cancer,
but she never said it had returned, she was always upbeat and happy.
“That’s just the way she was”, he said.
“Thank you so much for calling, I so wish I had had the opportunity to speak to her one last time” , I said as my voice wavered.
So it ended, I miss her so much, her passing left a hole that’s never filled in. I don’t know her birthday or when she died, I don’t know where she’s buried. I don’t have a picture of her, but I can hear her voice, I can see her smile. She would like that she hasn’t aged a single day since the last time I saw her.
So thank you to the West Virgina Highway Dept. for reminding me of someone very special