Actually, I lost her over a month ago, but no one told me.
In 1973 I was a single mother, age twenty-two.
I was clueless.
There was a whole lot of baggage that kept me company as I tried to make sense of life.
Though I loved my son deeply I was ill-equipped to mother him.
His father had shown little interest in him while we were married and even less once we separated and divorced.
I so wanted him to have a father in his life and thus grasped for anyone who would fill that role.
It was not going well.
The little guy had a vivid imagination by the age of three and wove many a tale about his "father".
The daycare workers became concerned over his insistence of these stories being facts not fantasy.
We were referred to a family support organization.
One of the services offered to us was of a "friend" for my son.
I had hoped that it would be a male volunteer, but God knew what my son needed.
Anita was forty-three and a mother of three children.
She loved my son at first sight.
Each week she would take him for some sort of outing.
At first, the pick up and drop off was at the center.
In time it moved to our home.
She took my boy to her home on occasion too.
As time continued on we became friends, friends who grew closer and dearer to one another.
She became not only my son's advocate, but mine as well.
I believe that she modeled for me what being a mother looked like.
Anita loved to refer to me as her earth angel, but I truly believe that it was she who was the angel.
Ours was a friendship that could pick up right where we left off no matter how much time had passed.
Neither of us were telephone people, so our calls were all about making plans to meet.
Over twenty-five years ago we moved to Connecticut from New York. It was also the time that Anita and her retired husband moved to Pennsylvania.
Year after year, including the early part of this year, I would stop and spend a night with her on my way to West Virginia to visit the son we both loved.
My friend was a character. She was definitely eccentric and much fun!
When I first met Anita I could tell that she wore a wig.
I had all kinds of ideas of why this was the case, but was way off base!
It took a few years before I finally asked her why the wigs.
She hated to fuss with hair, so kept hers super short and loved that she could simply drop the wig off and go about her business and then pick it up looking tiptop!
For years Anita carried a very interesting "purse". It was a wooden cigar box that she had attached a leather strap to for a handle. She had decorated the box with all kinds of jewels.
Anita went to her own drum beat and I loved it!
This summer I had some difficulty reaching her, so I popped a note in the mail, which brought a prompt call from her.
She was in a convalescent home recovering from thyroid surgery. She told me that her family felt she was a bit unsteady and wanted her to recovery where she would not be alone. You see Anita had lived alone the past eleven years since her husband's death. Her children lived considerable distances away. Thus the concern.
A few weeks ago I tried to call her, as I would be heading her way and wanted to visit her wherever she might have been.
Her home number was disconnected and she was no longer at the convalescent home.
I kept putting off checking online for any information.
Until the other day.
My sorrow was doubled because I had not been contacted.
I would have wanted to visit her if I had known she was failing and I would have surely attended whatever services there were for her.
Instead of dwelling on this I will remember all the sweet times we shared.
I am so grateful that Papa brought us together and kept us connected through all these years.
True friends are a gift from God and Anita was one of those precious gifts!
Definitely an earth angel! :)