In the middle of what was an always busy yesterday, I received a phone call. It was Cal, a friend who is also a lawyer. Cal has represented me when twice when I have bought and sold a house. Cal has also always been available as a sounding board, offering the views of the legal system when necessary. "Barry, Jill (Cal's mother-in-law) went into the hospital last week, caught an infection and died at 5:30 this morning. We're planning on a graveside service on Tuesday." The news was sad but not unexpected. I actually met Cal through Jill. Jill and my mother went to high school together, were (almost) life long friends and I called her Aunt Jill.
My mother and Jill went through high school together during the depression. When Jill's kids and I were younger, my mother and Jill didn't see each other regularly. They spoke on the phone when possible and got together for special events. As all the kids got older Jill and Mom spent more time together. It seemed they spent almost 15 years together, meeting every Saturday afternoon.
Jill and Mom were a great match. The both had been banged around a bit (who hasn't?) by life. Jill was an agoraphobic and Mom doesn't drive. Somehow, Mom could keep Jill calm. Jill could take Mom to get stuff done. Together they had a great time, helping each other.
About 10 years ago, Jill's youngest grandchild was born with hydrocephalus. Rather than go to the brit milah, my mother did as she did during summers, go to the village swimming pool. (My mother doesn't deal with tough times too well anymore. She prefers to play ostrich). Jill was offended and my mother never did anything after to apologize or repair the relationship (See almost life long friends). And that was that.
My mother isn't going to the funeral for fear of offending Jill's children. My mother's sending a card. I don't have any answers to life's great mysteries. I don't have any better questions about life's great mysteries. I do know that a lifelong friendship, followed by a decade of nothing, concluded with a sympathy card is a classic case study in how not to live. Your thoughts?