Friday, November 25, 2011

Friendship . . .

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
May the rain fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the Palm of his hand.

~ ~ ~

A few things were suggested to me when I began my blog in May. 
The first, be authentic . . . be yourself. 
The second, tell your story. 
I credit my friend here for encouraging me to be myself and
my friend here for encouraging me to tell my story.   

My Story of a Friendship

I met my friend Ronnie in the mid eighties. 
I was working in a large hospital system in Michigan. 
Ron was the Chief Perfusionist on the heart team
and I was the Intensive Care Chaplain.
Ronnie was invited to Michigan by the chief cardiac surgeon
to be part of a team to do open heart surgery in the hospital. 
Ronnie was excited and thrilled for the invite. 
We hospital employees, each and all,
were warmed by his southern charm, handsome good looks
and his engaging whistle as we heard him walk by after surgery,
. . .
and when he was not in hospital scrubs,
his famous Tommy Hilfiger shirts. 

The intensive care unit, the heart team, nurses, doctors, surgeons,
became such a happy cohesive group. 
We truly lived the true meaning of the word TEAM. 
As we each worked along side one another for patients and family,
we became "faithful friends" in the truest sense.
In the early eighties I began to search out a new role in life. 
The sudden death of my husband and being laid off
from my teaching job caused me to seek out new avenues. 
I went back to school, began volunteering in pediatrics at the hospital
and became involved in grief and loss support. 
The priest director of Pastoral Care in the hospital
invited me into a lay chaplaincy position in pediatrics. 
And that began a new chapter in my life . . . 
I believe, "when you are down and out, and when you least expect . . .
something comes into view . . . walking around the corner to change your life." 
I think we only have to be open to receive it!

Back to my friend Ronnie . . .  
We both were implants, he from West Virginia and me from Wisconsin.
We had family who lived afar and we became "friend family" for one another. 
Hospital rumor had it that "we had a thing going on". . . we did, a phenomenal friendship.

Ronnie, (an Apple man) led me through various purchases, such as
 my first Apple computer and first cell phone.  
(No big deal now, but back in the eighties it was!)

He filled up alone time with laughter and caring. 
He loved my Scott and Suzie and he loved me.  
We spent hours after work visiting on the phone. 
 I would phone him with "how do I do this or that" and
he would phone me with the trials and troubles with the women in his life. 
He called me his "spiritual advisor" and I called him my "really good friend." 

There wasn't a day that went by during the hospital days that
Ronnie didn't stop by my office to commiserate about this or that. 
His perfusion role on the heart team kept him very busy
and the program grew and grew. My role changed as well
as I became director and manager of the hospital chaplains and
community religious connections with the hospital. 
The thread of grief and loss support grew and grew. 
My personal tragedy/story brought me to others in grief. 
I have been blessed by each of their lives and their journey of grief.

The eighties merged into the nineties.
I now find myself saying where did the years go. 
I met Ronnie's family, he met mine. 
We didn't often spend time together outside of our work day
but we were there for one another in various decisions in our lives
such as in making real estate, various purchases, etc. 
There wasn't much we didn't run by one another.

I met Jack in the late nineties, we were married in 1997.  
Life was really good. 

And then a cloud appeared, suddenly, tragically. 
Ronnie was diagnosed with metastasized colon cancer. 
 Emergency, open and close surgery. 
There was radiation and chemo. 
Ronnie was able to work for a short while after his diagnosis, but then he retired.
  Ronnie's treatments continued, his family lived far away, friends stepped up to help.

I decided to retire and since I was available I helped, along with others,

to care for Ronnie in his trips to chemo and radiation. 
I was also taking care of my youngest grandson.
Each day we would take off to pick up Ronnie.  
My grandson still thinks his name was "get Ronnie" because 
I was often saying, we have to go "get Ronnie" to take him here or there.  

I think of Ronnie every day. 
He brought brightness, laughter, friendship and love to my life. 
I am forever thankful for having met him and known him.
Memories are Gifts  . . .
Hospital friends and family celebrated Ronnie and his life in a
Memorial Service in Michigan.  A few days later Jack and I and Ronnie's family,
 stood on a high hill . . . on a cold, windy day in West Virgina, to bid our final goodbye.
Ronnie died on November 25, 2000

Ronnie and me October, 1997, on the day Jack and I were married.



Mr Lonely said...

walking here with a smile. take care.. have a nice day ~ =D

Regards, (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..

TexWisGirl said...

what a beautiful friendship between souls. that will never end...

thank you for sharing this bond with us.

Jill said...

Oh Lynne...this was so beautiful! I knew from the minute I met you that you were of compassion. A special friendship is a trasure that should never be taken for granted. Ronnie must have been a real gem, as are you.

Aunt Barb said...

Beautiful post Lynne. It truly captured the essence of you and Ronnie. He was so fun and so charming. Everyone who knew him, instantly loved him. Love the photo of you two!

~from my front porch in the mountains~ said...

You made me cry.
You made me smile.

I love you, Lynne.
xo, misha

LANA said...

Lovely story, but I am sorry it had a sad ending for Ronnie. Good friends who are true and loyal are such a gift.

Raindrops and Daisies said...

Good friends are hard to find
and yourself and Ronnie were both very lucky to find one another.

I am sure you both valued that friendship.

Lovely story with good memories for you.

Take care my friend.

Fiona x