« Bill Clinton and My Yellow Bird | Main | Mistaken Identity »

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Dorothy Called

By Mary B Summerlin who keeps a photostream at Flickr

The phone rang, I answered and it was my good friend Dorothy. Dorothy and I have been friends since our kids were four years old or thereabouts. That’s a long time.

Our friendship has never wavered but our contact with each other has waxed and waned. We don’t live too far apart but she and I travel in different circles so we haven’t talked in a long time. I was delighted to hear from her and used the old greeting, “How are you?” and she used the automatic, “just fine.”

As old friends we have the privilege of getting right to the point. I answered, “Well, you don’t sound fine.”

And she blurted out, “I’m not, Martha died last night”. Martha is a dear friend of both of us as well as many others.

There is stunned silence on my part, then all sorts of comments stating that this was impossible, I had just seen her a few weeks ago, she hadn’t been sick and all - comments that pointed to denial of the fact.

Dorothy assured me that indeed she had died. She tried to hold back her tears as she gave me the facts as she knew them.

A short time ago, Martha had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. It had caused uncharacteristic behavior on Martha’s part. Martha was a retired teacher and whenever she taught a class at Lifetime Learning Institute or at any organization, she was well prepared, organized and presented an outstanding session.

Dorothy said the last one she went to was so unlike our Martha. She was disorganized, scattered and seemed to be unaware of it. The tumor was causing thinking and behaving in a manner that alerted all of her friends that something was amiss. But this had only been going on a short time. Only those who saw her regularly knew something was wrong.

The doctors gave her a choice. Without an operation she would live up to three months. With an operation, perhaps her life could be extended by a few months. Typical Martha, she said, “No operation.” But she and everybody thought there would be a few months, not death almost immediately. How can that be?

On the other hand, she would have hated to have lingered – suffering herself and causing her loved ones to suffer. So actually, it is better this way but what a shock. It has taken all day so far to try to absorb this new reality, Martha is gone.

I think of her children who are geographically scattered about and have families of their own now. They’re also in shock and all trying to make their way home. All are needing the warmth and comfort of family.

Dan, Martha’s husband of many years, needs all the support he can get. The thought of life without Martha is incomprehensible. Once again I realize how fragile life is and how dear friends are. I must remember to tell my loved ones “I love you.”

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:32 AM | Permalink | Email this post


A wonderful tribute to Martha and an honest reporting of the way we feel when someone we love is ripped from us. It feels too soon even if our friend has lived a long, full life. As we get into these last years, it becomes a common frequent event, but never feels commonplace.

I am sorry that you have lost your friend,Mary. I consider having your wonderful friends and family members dying and leaving you to be one of the worst things about growing old.

Also, you are quite right about saying "I love you" to the ones you love while you have the chance.

Do you remember my story about Andrew's Eulogy? At only 4 years old, Andrew realized the importance of telling me that when I died he would be very sad.

Out of the mouths of babes....

Thanks for the reminder. Mary. It is easy to forget in my day-to-day shuffle....

My husband says that when one dies, they continue to live as long as friends and family share memories of them.
Martha is fortunate to have friends left who will share memories of their times during their intersecting lives.
Thank you for sharing your story and sorrow with all of us as well.

Thank you for sharing this..It is far different to have someone die than to know they are very sick and will die soon. At our age, every person is a real reminder; those old saws about living every day and telling people we care about them become must do events for sure. Your friend sounds wonderful & it is nice that she managed to live even to her last days, not in bed, but out in the world.. I will think good thoughts for her children and family and for you. All your store of memories becomes a way to remember her always...So sad for you.

Thank you everybody for your loving sensitive comments. They give me comfort.

Here one day and gone tomorrow. I had a close friend, also named martha who developed a brain tumor and decided to live the 3 months the doctor's gave her rather than take chemo etc. but I was still shocked and very saddened by her death. I am sure we both miss our friend's. I hope this draws us all closer as friends.

Sad for your loss Mary, but I'm sure it's what Martha wanted. It's those left behind such as her husband, Dan we should feel for most.

Thank you for sharing and I'm sorry for your loss. It's so tough when you have to face the death of a peer and friend. It makes you realize how fragile life is, and how death hits so close to home.

The comments to this entry are closed.