My mother's 89 year old friend of 50 years was stricken with stomach cancer last September. The doctor gave her 4 months to live. She exceeded it by 2 months. She and my mom used to work at The Hawaii Times newspaper together until it went under some 20 or 30 years ago. Since they could no longer talk at work, they had a ritual to speak to each other on the phone every Monday afternoon at around 3:00 for a couple of hours of politics and laughing and complaining about the state of the world and then more laughing again.
In the 6 months where cancer slowly robbed mobility and life from her, my brother drove my mother to her friend's house to deliver soup or broth, her favorite sushi and some other little morsels of food that she might enjoy. Whenever I called my mom on Saturday, I'd find her scurrying about trying to cook something tasty.
The last few weeks have been hard. My mom misses those Monday afternoon chats. "She was my last best friend," she mourned. However, the thought that we were moving back to Hawaii to live with her kept her spirits up.
When I called her a couple of days ago she said she couldn't sleep. Her friend's nephew had stopped by with an envelope while she was working in her garden. She'd thanked him politely and put the envelope on the table to read later.
When she was done with her work, she sat down to read what she thought we would be a farewell letter. Instead, there was a short note that the enclosed check was to help support and care for her. She gasped when she looked at the check and started counting the zeros. She could barely contain herself.
Mom couldn't sleep because she couldn't decide what to do with the money. She finally decided to give some to my brother, save some for our family trip to Japan in fall and the rest would be used for Buddhist memorial services to make sure her friend would be remembered for as long as she herself lives. Her friend did not have children and her stepchild forgot about her so mom felt this would be the best way to use this gift. I was glad to hear that these gifts of the heart both ways would keep on giving for the rest of my mother's life.