You Said You’d Be Back Soon

Last week I had the rare privilege of witnessing a reunion between two old friends. We’ve seen televised reunions where two people have been brought together after life’s circumstances kept them apart for decades, but few of us get to see the private expressions on each of the faces when a door is opened and two old friends lay eyes on each other for the first time since they were in their twenties.

I was looking forward to this planned reunion ever since my sister told me our mother wanted to “drop by” her old friend V’s apartment when they came to visit me. It seems that since she was practically in the neighborhood (two hours away), she should say hello after communicating through Christmas cards and a few telephone calls for over 60 years. Mother told me that it might be her only chance to see her.

I strive for stoicism if at all possible, but who could keep it together when Dad rang the bell and we stood for a moment in anticipation before the door swung open and an eighty-five year-old stood behind a man inquiring who we were. As soon as he identified our group, V pushed her way through and she and our mother embraced on the threshold with an unrelenting grip you rarely see in octogenarians. Mother’s side of the family is very emotional, and she responded predictably to this combination of joy, excitement, realization and, I assume, the shock of finally being together after 61 years of separation.

“You said you’d be back soon!” cried V. What must they have thought of each other after separating when they were about 20 years old, and reuniting after their children had grown older than their parents had been when they first met? V grabbed out stacks of dusty picture frames to show us her children, their children, and their children. Mother has difficulty with her words sometimes, but V, after declaring she’d had three strokes, been clinically dead and rose up in the bed after being in a coma, managed to keep the conversation flowing with skills that surpass my own!

V is a woman who loves life and apparently fights daily to hold onto it. She’s tried to abandon her walker wherever she can leave it, and commanded our mother to throw away her cane. She’s outlived two husbands and gives every impression of outliving a third. I could see why our mother, a young girl of 19, had been charmed by this vivacious olive-skinned woman who gestures wildly with each exclamation, who protects the ones she loves and who expresses herself without inhibition. In the 1950s, she was surely a standout to our mother’s sheltered upbringing.

Asked if V was anything like Mother remembered her, her appearance was obviously not the same, but we were told that her personality, her eyes and her joy were how she remembered them.

Social media helps all of us stay in touch with many friends, and we have technology to enable our seeing every single photo that’s posted, but think about those people who have touched our lives in ways that perhaps they’ll never know; people we haven’t seen in years. I have some of those with whom the bond is deep, and when you reunite after years, the conversations resume as though one of us had merely left the room for a few minutes.

Mother and V knew nothing about each other except what had been jotted down in a few sentences on a Christmas card and through photos Mother had sent. V, apparently, never sent photos so she was a complete surprise on every level. Still, the two basked in each other’s presence and the visit seemed all too short.

After we were on the road home, I wondered if either of these women, knowing that neither can wait another 60 years, pondered the possibility of seeing each other again.

© 2016 by Patrick Brown

To learn more about my books, visit my author page at http://www.amazon.com/Patrick-Brown/e/B005F0CYH2/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1419885131&sr=8-1

 

8 thoughts on “You Said You’d Be Back Soon

  1. What a sweet, sweet story. I’m so glad those two women were able to reunite. A special thanks to you for making it happen. Life is full of surprises, obviously this one was unexpected. I’m so happy for both women…..you made a lot of people happy Patrick.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mom had been friends with Dorothy, our next door neighbor, for years and years. Even when Mom and Dad left the City and moved to Santa Rosa, they remained fast friends. As they both aged and reached their 90’s, each with their own ailments, they lost touch. I will never forget about a year before Mom passed at the age of 94, she asked me if I could drive her to SF to visit Dorothy who she learned had suffered several strokes. I said, “Of course, Mom. I would love to see her, too.” Well, one thing led to another, each of us busy with day-to-day life. And Mom and Dorothy were never able to say hello and good-bye one last time. To this day, that bothers me. So, I guess what I’m trying to say, is to not wait. Instead, do it now when two friends want – and need – to see each other again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a dear and tender reunion to share. I almost felt like a little mouse, enjoying quietly in secret. And, there’s hope here as well. I do admit I was deeply touched with recalling faces I would love to see again as these two lovely ladies were able to do. I know they know they’ve been blessed. Thank you, thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Although written from a first person point of view, you have managed to place yourself in the background and your mother and her friend in the foreground. This is, after all, their story. You are the observer, the vehicle through which your readers glimpse this tender, touchingly humorous reunion.
    It is a fine thing you and Karen have done, bringing these two old friends together again.

    Liked by 1 person

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