That’s What Friends are For

I get by with a little help from my friends.” – John Lennon

My mother was diagnosed with end stage lung cancer in June of 2008 and died October 9, 2008. That summer I had a contract event planning job with an organization called Forward Stride. FS is a non-profit offering hippotherapy (horse therapy) for adults and children with physical, mental and emotional disabilities. It is a magical place and the horses were often a comfort to me that summer.

I also met a great group of women, all FS board members, who were supportive of me professionally and personally. I am happy to say we are friends to this day. You know who was not part of that group? The executive director. The then FS director was the second worst thing to happen to me that summer and she gets a spotlight for being one of the worst professional experiences of my entire life. Really not good and crazy in a “I’m smarter than everyone even though I’m a complete train wreck and I’m going to blame it all on you” sort of way. She was naaaasssttyyy. It got to the point that I would not talk to her alone. I had to have a board member with me to ensure there was a witness to the conversation.

The FS big event, The Cowgirl Ball, was held October 4. I had worked very hard on the event and put up with more than anyone’s share of bullshit from the crazy executive director (I don’t use ED because that could also mean she needed Viagra, which maybe she did). I couldn’t go to the Cowgirl Ball. I went to the Melody Ballroom that afternoon to deliver wine, give the place a once over and then I had to leave. I needed to be with my family. The event went off without a problem as far as I know.

The Forward Stride Ladies were very good to me.

There is a sort of unofficial club for people who have lost parents. It’s not a “we’re better than you” sort of club but just an acknowledgement that until you lose a parent, especially a parent you were close to, you can’t know what that’s like. Not bragging, just saying.

Our club took on a new member last week when Robin’s (one of the FS Ladies) mother died after a lengthy struggle with Alzheimer’s. I hate to welcome Robin to the club but have assured her that there is plenty of support available whenever she needs it.

Even though it was only a week after Robin’s mom passed, the Forward Stride Ladies had planned dinner at Robin’s for last night and Robin wanted to go ahead with the evening. We all congregated at Robin’s beautiful home and sat in the sunshine on her deck and snacked on Amy’s divine bleu-cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates and toasted Mothers with our cosmos. Robin cried. And we told stories about our experiences and Robin talked about what she went through last week. No story is ever the same but there are so many similarities. Death is a mystical event.

Robin grilled salmon for dinner. BUT before dinner was served, the six of us met on the back lawn for a spirited badminton match. (It just took me five attempts to spell that correctly.) Yep, a grueling 3 on 3 all out badminton extravaganza. I think the youngest member of the group is 45 and I think only Robin was dressed for this activity. I haven’t had that much fun in years. I don’t remember the last time I ran around barefoot playing a game in a backyard. We laughed and cheated and conspired and cheered each other on. It was a wonderful unexpected surprise and exactly what was needed. I, for one, will never forget it.

Friendship is knowing that you don’t have to do everything and you don’t have to do it perfectly but do something. And if it’s badminton, so much the better.

Robin, Lucerne, Cheryl, Amy, Lisa… The Forward Stride Ladies

We have been friends together
In sunshine and in shade.
~Caroline Sheridan Norton

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21 thoughts on “That’s What Friends are For

  1. I hear this from everyone, about how until you’ve lost a parent, you can’t really imagine what it’s like. Makes perfect sense. The FS ladies must be great people. We should all have that sort of support group for all sorts of things.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      It is a unique experience. One that I’m sorry I have gone through but that I also treasure. Weird, huh? And the FS Ladies rock. I think our next gathering is going to include a visit to a sex shop!

  2. Cheryl Hansen says:

    Holy crap. Badminton rocked. Like you, I had so much fun laughing and playing, I think I peed my pants, but I was sweating so much, I couldn’t be sure.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      I did almost wet my pants. It was different than all the sweat. I should have showered when I got home but I was exhausted. Also, can’t find Lucerne on Facebook.

  3. Fish Out of Water says:

    This is really lovely. Made me tear up a bit. πŸ™‚

  4. jules1707 says:

    What a wonderful post and yes I teared up a bit too.

  5. what a lovely bunch of friends you all sound… πŸ™‚

  6. Brigitte says:

    Maggie, this is such a wonderful story and although you ladies are bound by something I know you wished you weren’t, it’s so nice that you’re connected by this kind of goodness. I think the last time I played badminton I was a kid. Thank you for sharing this memory.

  7. travellingmo says:

    Totally reminds me of me and my friends! We usually play cardgames, but I think badminton will have to be introduced!

  8. acflory says:

    I’ve lost both parents now and I can relate to this post. A very long time ago someone said that you don’t really grow up until you lose a parent. I believe that is true. I was in my early 50’s when I lost my mother yet I still felt as if I was suddenly flying on a trapeze without a safety net. I discovered that I didn’t really need a safety net but those first few moments in the air were scary.

    Much love

    • Maggie O'C says:

      I’ve never heard that before but couldn’t agree more. I’m 47 and sometimes I just want my mom!!! My dad died three years before my mom did but it’s also different when it’s your mom 😦
      Thanks for your comment.

  9. kmfullerton says:

    Good one. My mom died when I was 45…untethered is how it felt…to this day really. Maybe cause I lost my dad when I waas 7. But good lady friends, badminton, and cocktails makes for a magical healiing ceremony…tru dat.

  10. Simon says:

    This was one of those ones that I felt like I was a part of. Badminton really is fun and wicked hard to spell. This should be an activity at the Blog party we all one day attend, just make sure there are lots of booze. Great stuff Maggie, I need to visit more often.

  11. Mrs. P says:

    I read this post with tears in my eyes.
    On a lighter note, I had a very bad “volunteer” boss experience and I might have called her a “scalper” for trying to make a profit off Girl Scouts. It took me an entire year to get her ass tossed and it was a fine day when it happened.
    Anyhoodle, I love days when you lose all abandon and find your inner child. I’m sure all the moms were looking down and watching, praying no one banged their heads or got swiped in the kisser by a racket…and smiling.

  12. […] night was the 2nd Annual Dinner Party and Badminton Fete. You may remember the original from last year. Last night was also a rollicking good time. We really need to get video of the […]

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