Showing posts with label memories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label memories. Show all posts

Sunday, April 10, 2016

RIP Sandy

Me with Sandy October 14, 2015
My heart tore off another piece of itself yesterday, after Jennie's phone call, "I have sad news."  My reply, "Yes, I have been expecting this."  My last very close friend in California died Friday evening, April 8.  She had not been well for years. I am thankful we were able to visit for a bit when we were in CA in October.  This picture is me with Sandy at her home in Woodland.  As we left to drive back to  our motor home I told Jerry, "She's not going to last long.  I will never see her alive again."  He agreed.  And yet, she looked better than I was expecting, but I knew in my heart where we know beyond doubt. 
She was 78 years old if I am correct and had she made lifestyle changes years ago along the way, I would not be writing this today.  

 In our lives, we meet many people, some we call friends but those who really become friends take time to grow the relationships from acquaintance into full "framily", my word for those closer than family to me, very dear friends.    These are the rare ones  of life.  Once I was blessed with 3 now there is only me.  She was a sister I never had. 

Sandy was never one I could have foreseen becoming so close to.  I met her at the CA State Employment Development Department (EDD)  in career days,  in 1991 when I was managing the establishment of a group to guide quality improvement through the entire behemoth organization.  We were interviewing candidates to work with on a team that would be known as Leading the Quality Team.  That effort would take multiple pages to explain, suffice that it was new and daring, in an overly bureaucratic traditional state agency as was EDD.  In came our next candidate, a white haired "old lady" I thought, when I first saw Sandy who was only 6 years older than me, but she had lived hard and large and was a devoted EDD staff person venturing up  from one of their field offices into headquarters.  It was not a typical interview because we wanted extra ordinary staff.  Sandy blew us away with her demonstration removing any doubt I had that she had the stuff to "train" and present to management above her pay level.  We hired her and that began in what I never expected to happen, the growth of a deep friendship for the rest of our lives.  

Here is just a bit  from a letter I wrote to surprise her on her embracing the faith and taking the Walk to Emmaus in 2007, I frequently think of all the spiritual activities that you are now so fully embracing and am more than amazed.  Sometimes I feel like a proud mama.  Sometimes I feel like a teacher whose student has far surpassed expectations.  Sometimes I feel like I helped create a Frankenstein!   But overall I am so thankful that God placed me in your life or you in my life.  What a joy to have played a small part in your journey back to the God who never left you even when you didn’t pay much attention to Him!  From your joining the Woodland church to your studies and your Emmaus walk, you are growing in faith and learning more and more about our amazing God and Jesus.     

I recall that white haired lady who had the nerve to interview to be a facilitator back those many years ago at EDD. (Well that’s the note I made on my interview sheet “white haired lady” to distinguish you from the rest!  Back then I thought I might not remember you from the rest of the crowd!)  Little did I suspect that through many years, miles, tears and smiles you would become a dearest friend, an extra ordinary link in my life.  It’s been a long time since ’91. 

I recall that same white haired lady who took her sewing machine along to Santa Rosa training; I thought that was an odd thing to bring. For me who was far more interested in clothes and matching shoes with outfits I couldn’t imagine what would a person do with a sewing machine and how/why carry such a thing around?  Little did I know then of your passion for art and quilting.  I learned how you would retreat within yourself while stitching away and recharge your spirit. 

 Sandy "found religion" at my and her sister, Jennie's example as Methodists", and then Sandy became almost addicted to that for years taking every class she could, questioning and researching.  We were friends through thick and thin, past retirement which she began and enjoyed ahead of me, and with me in the tragedy of my life, the loss of our son Steve, with me even though we moved from CA to MN.  We talked on the phone almost daily for years. She  thought she would come to visit us for several weeks, I would take her around this area to different quilt shops,  and she would take in the Midwest,  but that never happened, her illnesses began to prohibit any travel, it became a pipe dream.

Sandy was an accomplished
Our "Salute of Roses" quilt by Sandy.  
artistic quilter  beyond excellence and  adored fabrics and working them into designs.  We have a beautiful handmade quilt on an antique bed.  It is a true interstate quilt, she worked on it in Woodland, CA, her renowned quilter friend in Washington designed the templates for her,  I sent her fabric from Wisconsin, she ordered fabric and batting from Paducah, Kentucky and it graces this patriotic bedroom on an antique sleigh bed in our home in MN today.  Sandy set about making this quilt when she knew I would inherit that bed and it was the last quilt she would make, as illnesses brought frailties to her.  It took over 2 years from the idea to the finality.  Here is  an excerpt from Sandy's documentation letter to me in 2010 upon its completion:  
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 2010 11:11:31 EDT
Subject: Quilt related Info
Finally here is the letter I had penciled out on the 22nd!!!!!
Dear Pat, Well, the label is on. I had asked my friend Joan Mack in Sequim, WA( Sn award winning quilter and use to be neighbor) to make the label and her equipment couldn't do it, so she asked her friend in Seattle, WA to make it! Walla, a label was born! Just another wonderful reward of having friends during this earthly journey.
 As you know "Salute of Roses" went in to the big floor frame for hand quilting in March, 2008 after several months of searching for the perfect fabrics. It was the beginning of a new journey I was super excited to start. Since we had decided the fabrics were perfect via snail mail and telephone from CA to MN I prayed for perfection of my hands and needles.

But this is not about the quilt which could consume this posting, instead, I am saying farewell to my friend, Sandy.  As she  began to fail and suffered through hospitalizations and nursing home stays her world got  smaller and smaller.  She  spent her last few years rather confined to her home and was on oxygen 24/7.  The last year I noticed her dementia that she joked about was increasing, she repeated herself more and more she didn't remember.  I worried about her living alone, although she had an adult son who lived in what had been a garage and then her quilt  studio, under the guise of helping her, but how much help is a 50+ year old dependent unemployed. That is another tragic tale, his alcoholism, rehabilitation and  continued slip back into addiction and Sandy's enabling of the situation.  
Sandy 2010

In better days, Sandy had a bit of latent Phyllis Diller in her, the same coarse laughter, a consistent positive trait diffusing a remark with humor sometimes to the point of the macabre, Sandy enjoyed my writing and nagged me beyond belief to publish, it was her way to encourage, to nag.  She especially was fond on my blog and one reason why I started writing here. She scolded me for not keeping it up but I have substituted physical activity. 

I knew the time was coming but not when.  Her last bout with pneumonia would hospitalize her and then send her to the nursing home. This time like her other  SNF times I was sure she would not get out.  But she would prove me wrong, she would eventually return to her home and her isolation, if only briefly.  As she refused to eat she weighed only 86 pounds when she died, significantly less than her 130's pounds in her prime.  She refused therapy.  She  went back  again to smoking heavily on her porch.    I close with one last picture of Sandy from 2010, far better days in her life on this earth.  

Goodbye 'old friend, see you someday on the flip side.Later, much later, who knows?. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Recipe reverie, blogger acts out

Yesterday's all day snow coating more with continuous whiteness added another  four inches to what has been steadily accumulating this winter.  It  must have affected this blogspot where  I thought I posted this and  yet today I see it had been reverted to a draft...daft why? Blame it on the winter weather.   So here another attempt to publish, winter is getting the best of us and the cyber waves.  

All the descriptive adjectives--pretty, sparkling, fluffy have been exhausted this winter, enough already.  I feel like we are living in a shake 'em up snow globe, no sooner does it settle than Mama Nature sends another blast our way.   I am tired of white and annoyed when it sidelines my plans as it did, confining me to home and hearth.  I did not venture out to drive in the winds with limited visibility nor was I tempted as there were reports of the potential to slide along the roads if the plows had not already been through.. 

 It was a day to stay home and a good day to cook. It has been quite some time since I stuffed and roasted a chicken because for the two of us, it's preferable to stick with chicken parts, breasts or thighs and occasional drumsticks although wings are a great snack.  However the market had these chickens on sale, very cheap and with my purchase of two bottles of wine I got $2 off any poultry, bringing the cost to $1.  So I picked up a whole chicken Friday intending to do something with it over the weekend.  Those intentions did not materialize but Monday's snow day  was an opportune time to stuff and roast this bird.  Jerry is not a fan of what he refers to as "sea gull" although he grudgingly eats the day's menu; I am a big fan of chicken, amd roasting filled the house with wonderful scents.  

My bargain chicken stuffed and ready to roast
As I prepared  thestuffing with lots of sage, big bread hunks, broth, butter, sauteed onions and celery I thought about my maternal grandmother Rose, my Polish Baba, with whom I spent a lot of time and stayed most weekends.    I have written about her  many times on this blog. Roast chicken was one of her special favorite Sunday afternoon meals, with all the fixings after we went to morning mass.  She had none of the kitchen conveniences like deep freezers nor microwaves and she did insist on fresh chickens; she did not want those from the  grocery market that would have been sitting for "you don't know how long."  No,  Rose insisted chickens must they be just bled, fresh; , to her that was the only way to ensure a tasty chicken, kill , drain and cook.  They lived in town so while she did not raise her own chickens, she did walk to the local  butcher for a fresh just killed bird on Saturdays.  It was Sarniac's, the  Polish butcher shop where  my grandpap hung out, helped make Polish sausage and played cards and they knew to have a fresh chicken ready for Rose. Sometimes it would still have it's feet attached but she would tell them to leave the feet, which she would remove at home, herself. 


Baba, my grandma Rose about mid 1940"s
Once she brought it home, the ordeal of cleaning it meticulously began, I cannot remember how many times she rinsed and rinsed that chicken and then soaked it in a brine though it seems that hours and hours were involved. I once remarked in childlike wonder that it was clean already to which she said, "oh no Patty, we don't want any dirt or feathers.  Chickens are dirty and you don't want to eat anything like that."  Finally by late Saturday afternoon, she had her fresh chicken ready for  Sunday roasting.  Her oven had no timer so that bird did not get into the oven to begin until after we returned from church and then she would carefully watch and baste it from time to time.  I wish I had a picture of those feasts, they were a meal which she served with pride and a smile.  So today stuffing and roasting a cheap chicken brought the reverie of childhood.  And I thought of how I will not buy  frozen chicken parts in mass bags, and certainly not  those that are processed in Asia.  My chicken choice is fresh, locally Amish grown and processed....I am Rose's grand daughter after all.  It's my legacy, You don't want a chicken that's been sitting around for you don't know how long."  Recipes can stir up our memories..