For Glad, A Special Friend..

There’s a special place in heaven for that unique person who knows how to be a good friend. And if you are very lucky, you will meet one of these rare individuals at some point in your life. I have been extremely lucky—because I’ve truly met more than one of these people. Sometimes you don’t recognize them right off, but as time goes on, and they are always there for you—ready to talk, go out for coffee or a bite to eat, or walk with you through a tough time, the realization that you’ve met a true friend will roll through you, leaving a path of warmth and a smile in its wake.
I have a friend like that. Her name is Gladys, but we all called her Glad. When I took a new job with a hospital far away from my family and friends, she was the first person who stopped to talk to me. She was the first person who made an effort to get to know me outside of work. She was the first person I would regularly drop in on and talk to during the work day. She was a lot of firsts for me, and continued to be for almost nineteen years.
Glad and I were different. Frankly, aside from working at the same place, we didn’t seem to have a lot in common. She was a nurse administrator and manager; I worked in the finance department. She spent her days working with patient care and patient safety issues; I spent mine with numbers and graphs. She was a practicing Catholic, and very proud of her Italian ancestry. I’m an occasional Presbyterian, with a background best described as “pure mutt”, and not a lot of interest in the old country, even if I knew exactly where that may have been. She never married; I was a divorced, single Mom raising a daughter on my own. I guess if you were looking for common background and interests as reasons for our friendship, you’d find pretty slim pickings.
But what we shared wasn’t in our upbringing, career choice, or even life decisions. We shared an outlook. Glad was independent and strong, and didn’t have a lot of patience with people who refused to accept responsibility for their own life. She was fine with her decisions and with her life whether or not it fit the mold of “married-with-kids-and-house-in-acceptable-part-of-town”. She made me realize it was OK to be me, the way I am. Fitting a mold wasn’t our problem, but the personal, and sometimes pretty strange, expectations of other people. We didn’t have to meet anyone’s expectations for our personal life or choices.
Glad taught me a lot of things. She taught me the value of reaching out and keeping in touch with friends and family. She taught me the importance of making the effort, even if it takes multiple tries. I listened to her stories, and took them to heart. I try to remember to call my own siblings, and did initiate the annual “kids trip” where we all get together, spend time together, no matter what effort it takes to find a meeting place. Glad also inspired in me the drive to stop talking about it and get up the nerve to travel abroad—and the first place I went was Italy. It was every bit as wonderful as she had always described it. And I’ve been traveling ever since. Aside from my own trips, one of my greatest pleasures was to sit on Glad’s couch and go through all the photo albums of her travels, and listen to her great stories. Glad had hundreds of stories of all the places she’d been, people she met—and plans for where she would be going next.
But most of all, Glad showed me the real value of courage. No matter what happens, you deal with it, and you put one foot in front of the other and keep going. You don’t march in place. You don’t whine. You keep going, because if you don’t—marching in place and whining is all you will ever have, and life offers so much more than that.
Glad did that when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She stood up straight and tall, squarely faced the situation, took the treatments and just kept going. She did the same thing when, 20 years later, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She assessed the situation, took the treatments and just kept going. But this time, and as much as we all hated what was happening, that cancer was stronger than she was. She faced that realization with the same quiet courage she applied to everything in her life. After dealing with it for two, long years, she very reluctantly decided that she had finally had enough. With her two, very best friends by her side, and her beloved family nearby, she quietly slipped away on a Thursday afternoon.
I know she has better places to go, and lots of things to do. I know she is having joyful reunions with family and friends she hasn’t seen in many years. I know she isn’t in pain any longer, and is healthy and happy again. But I will miss my friend. I will try to be that better person she expects me to be—and to remember that I have the privilege of living in this life that was so hard for her to give up. And I am hoping that she knows, no matter where her new journey takes her, no matter what she will be doing, time and distance will make no difference. I will always be her friend.


About Vicki Lee

Hi! I'm Vicki, and I'm a writer and an author. I write articles, blogs and author e-books both my own and as a ghostwriter. I'm a regular contributor to Squidoo (under VickiLeesBookshelf), and currently feature my own books on this blog site. I have over 20 years of management experience, which I'm currently incorporating into a professional series of books for first-time managers and supervisors, as well as working on my first fiction series ( mystery, set about 150 years ago in San Franciso).
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9 Responses to For Glad, A Special Friend..

  1. Joe Colgate says:

    Just read your note Vicki, very loving and thoughtful! Sarah wrote one about her friend who past away a couple of weeks ago. Seems to help with the healing…Joe

  2. Bev Jones says:

    Really enjoyed your note about Glad. You have really captured most of her finest qualities. She was someone who came into your life usually not quietly, taught you great things, easily became a friend and will never leave your heart or your memories. We have all been privileged to have known and loved Glad.

  3. david says:

    enjoyed you sharing your thoughts on friendship. thanks

  4. Although I have no “thank you” button, thank you so much for the wonderful blog about Glad. I doubt I would have known otherwise. Although not a personal friend, I worked with Glad and found her to be as wonderful as you do. She will be missed.
    Elaine Fisher

  5. Rachel Olson says:

    Beautifully written Aunt Vicki. I feel like I could have known your friend, your words were such a nice tribute to the woman she was.

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