I got a call from my friend’s son this morning, informing me that my friend who I’ll call A, passed away last night, due to complications from a stroke.
I wasn’t really sure if i wanted to blog about this, but I loved A, and I want to share our story.
I think it was around August maybe? Whenever I started the Goals class at Saavi. Saavi has drivers who will come get us before we have our own transportation, so D picked me up the morning of the first class. Class started at 9am, but D picked me up at 8:15 because she had others to pick up.
We drove a ways to A’s house, and she climbed in the van and said hello. I could smell her perfume. We introduced ourselves, and she told me she had recently moved here from PA. She was getting on in years, and her son wanted her to live with him. We chatted the whole way to Saavi.
She hadn’t been there before and I had. She had a little vision, had lost most of it to Macular Degeneration.
D helped her in to the kitchen, and I stopped at the restroom on the way. I made my way into class and I heard her call my name to let me know where she was. She told me there was a nice young man to her right, so to sit by him. he introduced himself, I’ll call him S, and the three of us became instant friends.
We had class on Tuesdays and Fridays and so Friday D picked me up and went and got A, and when we got out of the van, A actually asked to take my arm. I couldn’t believe it. I was totally blind and she trusted me to take my arm. I led her to the kitchen and S joined us and thats how class was for 6 weeks.
They taught us all kinds of stuff like adaptive measuring, telephone services, Talking Books etc. A raved about Talking books because she had them back in PA.
She would tell me how she missed her friends and her beautiful needlepoint she had put on furniture, how it was so hard to sell that stuff when she moved here. She told me about the blind center there, about a woman there who I reminded A of. This woman was my age, had been blind since a child, and just had a wonderful attitude. They had become fast friends, so when she met me, she latched on. I latched on to her too; she was my first blind friend at Saavi, and she was just a spitfire. She reminded me a lot of my Grandma with the way she talked, and how frustrated she got at the things she couldn’t do.
I was always saying “yet” to her whenver she mentioned something she couldn’t do, and before long she would say “I can’t do that, yet”. Whenver she said “yet” I would cheer, and it became our little joke.
On breaks, we would always go to the ladies room together, and S would find us in the hall. One day S and I were singing and A loved it. She said she would be our manager and I named us ‘The Saavi Singers’ lol. She loved our energy and I swear she was young inside her old body.
After Goals came Stars, where we learned even more. A asked about her salad dressing. Her favorite salad dressing came in some kind of container where you have to measure up to a line or something, and if it wasn’t done right, it didn’t taste right, and she didn’t know how on earth she would ever be able to make it. We all tried to figure out a way, and I don’t know if it ever got resolved. Thats why I say I hope the afterlife has her salad dressing.
We would talk about baseball, because baseball was always on in the house, always. She would say no matter what room she went to, baseball was on. She was so proud of her son, and his little league coaching, and she raved about her grandsons and how handsome they were.
We talked about having adventures together once we both had SunVan, how we could meet at a restaurant or Saavi for lunch.
We never got to do that. She applied for SunVan but never got to use it.
After Stars, the 3 of us were going to take beginning cooking. We had asked to “travel” together through the classes. She came to one class, and the following week, S and I were informed that A had fallen really badly at home.
I called her son to find out what happened, and she had had a small stroke in the bathroom. She was in the hospital and would probably be going into a rehab. He gave me her room number and I called her.
She was so happy to hear from me, and remembered who I was and that I was applying for a guide dog. She talked a lot about guide dogs and how wonderful they were and how I could take them anywhere. She’d had a friend with one. She said she was at home, but I told her I called her at the hospital. She didn’t understand. She really thought she was at home. A nurse brought a food tray and she didn’t seem to understand why someon brought her a food tray, and we got off the phone so she could eat. That was the last I talked to her.
I let everyone at Saavi know what was going on. Not long after, D came up to me one day while I was sitting with S before class, and told us that they had gotten a letter from A’s son. She had another stroke, and was in a long term care facility and would not be coming back to Saavi.
Her son told me today that he had to call me personally because A was always talking about me, and I really impacted her life. I told him she impacted mine too. He asked about S and I told him I would tell S and he also asked if I would let Saavi know, and of course I would, I told him, he didn’t need to deal with that.
So I let the people at Saavi know who had had direct contact with A, and I have a call in to S to let him know.
I never knew that A was 89 years old until her son told me after the first stroke. She just didn’t seem 89. She lived a full and wonderful life. Her passing was fairly swift, and she didn’t suffer for long.
In her sighted days, A was a golfer and a swimmer. She missed golf something terrible. I told her about how blind people golf, but she didn’t seem interested in doing it that way. I wish I could have told her about one of the blogs I read, about a blind man who has begun golfing again after losing his sight.
Maybe she’s golfing “up there” now, and after a nice round, she’ll get to have her salad dressing.
I’ll miss you A. I only knew you for a short time, but your presence was felt and needed, and I am a better person for having known you.