My friend Tom J. called me last night while I was on FaceTime with my friend Pat. The time was 10:30 pm. I thought "That's late for Tom to be calling me, somebody must have died." Sure enough, after I got off FaceTime with Pat I called Tom and he informed me that his good friend and our former co-worker's (when we both worked at First Fidelity Bank in Philadelphia) husband had died suddenly. He was understandably upset because this is the seventh person this year in Tom's circle of friends who has died.
You know folks, I really try not to post "old folks" stuff on this blog and all my and others medical maladies and especially deaths but it's hard not to when I'm approaching 72 years old. Many bloggers I know are in the prime of their life (late 30's to early 50's). I don't know of few if any bloggers who are as old as I am who blog daily or even blog at all. Some read my blog, I know but to be as active as I am, in the daily swim of things so to speak, few if any. Perhaps if I was in my early 50's I would post about different subject matter but as I get closer and closer to the Final Exit, it is hard to avoid this subject.
My friend Tom was wise in taking early retirement when he was in his late 40's. He is 54 years old now. Travels between his homes in Pennsylvania and Florida and visits his friends like me and others. Of course Tom can afford to live this lifestyle because he was very successful investor in the stock market (unlike yours truly). Tom stops by Casa Tipton-Kelly once or twice a year in his annual travels. Bill and I enjoy Tom's visits, he is immensely entertaining and full of life. However, I sense that he is becoming some dejected because of all the death and illnesses he has witnessed this year (two of his friends were informed they have terminal cancer).
|Me showing Tom photos of our time at Fidelity Bank in Philadelphia|
A few years ago I happened to see an advertisement in the paper of an open house. The real estate agent who was holding the open house was a woman who I worked with for several years at Girard Bank in Philadelphia when I was young and pretty (as she was too!) Our desks actually adjoined each other's. I was an administrative assistant to an operations vice president and she was the secretary to the trust department president. Her name was Anne Marie and I liked her a lot. I sensed that she liked me a lot too. But of course there came the time (as it always has with me) that I had to "lower the boom" and let her know I wasn't marriage material. I don't remember exactly what I said but it was something about "my roommate" was the reason I couldn't go to a function with her. That did it and the word quickly spread that I was gay, which was my intention. Again, remember back in those years I was considered somewhat attractive by a fair amount of the members of the opposite sex. I always had to swat them off. This was the best way I could figure out how to do it. After I informed her of my "roommate" I could sense that she backed off. The only downside that I saw was when I brought in my chocolate chip cookies that year for the Christmas party she didn't want any whereas in years past she gobbled them down. What did she think we did? Maybe I didn't wash my hands? Oh well, I was a bit put off by that but I soon got over it.
|Anne Marie, me and Jane "back in the day" at the bank - both gals pregnant and I had NOTHING TO DO WITH IT!|
Subtle humor here that we all participated in because they knew I was gay - oh yes, those are my hanging plants - 1980
After her initial shock that I wasn't marriage material she eventually met another guy and got married and had two wonderful sons.
She eventually left the bank to raise her two sons. I didn't see her for twenty-six years. Then I saw ad in the local newspaper when I was trying to see our house in Pennsylvnia. I showed up at her open house. Of course she was surprised to see me. I was delighted to see her. We had a good visit. We relived old memories, updated each other on gossip about our former co-workers, just like we did when we sat next to each other at the bank. One story which we relived was the time she and her good friend Jane took a trip to Mexico (Jane is pictured in the photo above). This was before Anne Marie was married. They were vacationing in Acapulco. One sunny day they decided to go scuba diving with a couple of local young Mexican men who worked at the hotel and took guests out on these excursions. Everything was fine, they scuba dived in the clear blue waters of the Bay of Mexico. Then came the time they had to get back into the boat. Anne Marie retold the story with shock that the young Mexican "romeo" who lifted her up out of the water and back into their boat did his hands cupped around both of her breasts! She was shocked! She said "He must do that with all the tourists!" Even now as I type this I can see the shocked expression on Anne Marie's face knowing that that Latin playboy copped a free feel. Yes, we had many laughs me and Anne Marie.
|Back in the day at bank operations where I was the supervisor - Anne Marie used to visit frequently|
The Good Old Days - not to be seen in these days of automation and computers
After that visit we kept in contact by an occasional e-mail. Then I received an e-mail from her where she told me she was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. She told me "I'm overwhelmed, I don't know what to do." I answered her back. I never heard from her again. About eight months later I heard that she had died. She was 58 years old. Too young.
|Me and Anne Marie, our reunion 26 years later - 2006|
So folks, remember when those musical chairs are playing, make the most of every day because when the music stops your chair may not be there.
Live like today is your last day, just don't empty out the bank account. And don't get too upset if someone cops a free feel. Just saying.