A few days ago I ran into an old friend from my late aunt’s neighborhood. Her family lived across the street from my aunt. Her mom and my favorite aunt “Nanny” were close friends, and Nanny was her hair dresser.
Both Nanny and my friend’s mom passed away years ago. Minutes after I turned down the vegetable isle I heard a woman ask, “is your name Denise?” I looked up to make eye contact, and responded, “Yes! Is your name Dorothy?” She replied Yes!
I couldn’t help but notice that she had aged even more since I last saw her at my dad’s funeral in 2008. But, she still looked beautiful. Talking about aging gracefully. However, my extended friend wasn’t just beautiful on the outside, she still had a beautiful spirit. She said that I looked good too. Of course, in this respect we meant that each one of us looked good for our age. I’m 62.5, and my friend is around 66 years-old.
Dorothy started talking about her journey with bad health. While I knew that she was a breast cancer survivor, I did not know that she had a full mastectomy, both knees replaced, thyroid cancer and a host of other complications. What touched my heart was when she said, boy, “your mom, “who is also Dorothy ” was such a positive person.” Dorothy went on to say, “I was shocked when she told us that she had bread cancer!”
The last time Dorothy would have seen my mom, in Chicago, would have been in 1994, when mom and my youngest sister came to Chicago from California in 1994. My friend Dorothy had not been diagnosed then, but she said when she was diagnosed she remembered mom’s positivity.
Like mom, my friend Dorothy has proven that doctors are wonderful, necessary and smart, but not brilliant enough to predict longevity. When mom was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer 11 years before losing her fight she had been given a prognosis of no more than five years to live. Similar to mom, my friend also had a double mastectomy, many years ago, and has also lived well beyond the time which doctors have given her.
I feel blessed to have crossed her path once again. Our conversation gave each other hope at a time when each one of us have been haunted by a constant stream of deaths in our family.
After hearing Dorothy’s story about her personal experiences with failing health in the midst of keeping hoe alive through out it all, I am so thankful to have my mother’s spirit and understand the value of having a positive attitude even when there appears to be nothing to be positive about. We need each other.