Last night I had a huge bowl of ice-cream for dessert. Well, not just a bowl of ice cream. I went all out and added marshmallow cream and hot fudge. I ate every bite and I didn’t feel any of the usual guilt-pangs that go along with this indulgence. You see, I went to a funeral for a good friends mother yesterday. Usually funerals leave me feeling empty and sad and asking “What’s it all for anyway?”. But this funeral was different because Roz was different.
I met Roz for the first time on Valentines day in the late 90’s. It was a chance meeting at the Annapolis Mall while on a date with Marcus. Marcus and I saw Roz and her husband Stan sitting on a bench near the movie theater where we were heading to see Silence of the Lambs. Marcus introduced us and within the 5 minute in-depth conversation, Roz knew practically everything about me and my family. You see, she was the kind of person who was not satisfied with small talk. Roz would pleasantly probe and pick at you until she was confident she had a well-rounded understanding of who you are and what you are about. All the while smiling that famous, engaging grin. She left me laughing. About what? I cannot remember. But, I remarked to Marcus after we said our good-byes how nice I thought she was and I could see where her son Scott gets his sense humor.
It was several years down the road, after Marcus and I married, when I would have the good fortune of chatting with Roz again. At a birthday party for Scott, I walked into the living room and there was Roz surrounded by several other guests chatting animatedly about this one’s children and that ones career. She spied me as I walked into the room an immediately called out to me “Jennifer, how nice to see you again!” I was instantly wrapped in the warmth of her smile and became engaged in the conversation.
“How’s the book selling? Tell me about your latest quilt! And your sister Mollie, have you been on any new adventures together?” She tossed out questions faster than I could answer. I was shocked, surprised and flattered that she remembered so many details from the short conversation we had had 6 or 7 years ago. How could she possibly remember so much about me?
Turns out, everyone who met Roz has a similar story. She had a gift that is mind boggling. She genuinely wanted to know you and was truly interested in your life. Somehow, she not only remembered your name, but every detail discussed in the time you spent talking with her. Several days, weeks, months or even years later she would start a conversation by asking about your life and what was new since last you spoke. Always remembering as if she had just seen you minutes ago.
All who met her became part of her family. So yesterday at her memorial service, it was not surprising to see a room full of people who were her ‘family’ crying and laughing (because Roz loved to make you laugh) and all of us telling a similar tale.
Just seconds before the service began at the graveyard, as the last guests were approaching the tent, a strong breeze stirred over our heads touching all of us as it circled around and around for a few seconds. Roz embracing all of us-saying her good-byes. A butterfly skittered away as the breeze settled. In that moment I was reminded how our lives are connected; how we influence and inspire others. I realized how lucky I have been to have friends who genuinely care for me and include me as a member of their extended family. The time spent with these friends is special as it fills me with happiness and for a while everything in life is easy and everything ‘means’ something.
I was also reminded how short our lives really are and how we should make an effort to enjoy each second. So, in celebration of Roz’s life, I indulged in an ice-cream sundae. I believe she would approve. Safe travels Roz until we meet again.