The Best Gifts…

Yesterday and today I received two of the best gifts I could have asked for this holiday season.  Gifts that you cannot buy at Macy’s or Amazon or Target.  Gifts that have no price tag.

Yesterday, my dear friend Rose Marie Velarde called me.  Rosie lives in California and is one of the most amazing and delightful people I know.  I last saw Rosie when I visited California in July 2010.  I have not had an opportunity to chat with her since then with the exception of holiday cards.

Rosie is a spry, and absolutely adorable, 87 years old.  We met when we took a sign language class together back in the early nineties. She was a beacon of light back then and I cannot tell you that she has changed a bit in these past 20 plus years.  She was always the coolest of the cool, styled to perfection, and willing to participate in whatever adventures presented themselves.

Rosie had already retired by the time we met.  She used her retirement to keep active and learn new things, hence the sign language class.  She became a working musician in her retirement. She still plays gigs around her community.  Rosie continues to live her life as she scripts it.  Her wit is clean but spicy, and she delivers it with a twinkle in her eye.  How I love this woman!

Rosie and me – 1995 and 2010

Today, I had an opportunity to speak to my beloved friend Barbara Johnson.  Barbara is in Pennsylvania.  Her family has had a rough year but they came through it with lots of love.  Barbara lost her son at the age of 41 in October after a hard-fought battle with cancer.  She has lived the nightmare a mother hopes never visits her family.

I think of Barbara daily.  I have wanted so desperately to be able to help her in some way or to possess the words to help ease the pain she has experienced.  But I have nothing to give but my repeated message that I love her and am thinking about her.  To speak with her today about how she is doing and how her family is coping with the difficult loss of Dave reminded me of the fragility and strength of human beings.  Even through things that we do not believe we can endure, we do indeed endure.

Barbara has always been a source of laughter for me.  When we get together we often laugh until we cry.  She uses humor like I do – to get through the days.  Some days are more difficult than others, but Barbara and I both lean toward laughter.  But make no mistake, despite her cheery good-nature, Barbara can be as feisty as they come.  She takes no baloney and she has taught her kin the value of backbone.  Barbara raised her family to be salt-of-the-earth type people and she succeeded.  Barbara Johnson is a good soul.

Barbara and me – 2011

Speaking with Rosie and Barbara reminded me of how much capacity my dearest of friends have to refill the well of my spirit.  These two phone calls are the Christmas gifts I will remember and treasure most.  The era of physical Christmas cards may be over and forever replaced by virtual cards, but there is no replacement for the voice of a friend.  There are some things money just can’t buy and those are things I want for Christmas – luckily, they only require being there or in the absence of that, a phone call.   Don’t let all the major retailers fool you.  This time of year is about people, love, compassion, and kindness -those are the gifts that matter.

Day one thousand two hundred and sixty-eight of the new forty – obla di obla da

Ms. C