Fridays with Gracie

fridays with gracie

Fridays with Gracie, sort of reminds us of Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Album’s best seller about his time spent with his professor after 20 + years who was dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease. While this is similar, this is more to how we build relationships with others from one commonality. Two people that came together once a week who never would have spoken if it were not for the mutual love of a little boy. A little boy who today has no idea of the impact he had and how he brought us to spending Fridays with Gracie as to him he just missed seeing her each week and wanted to give her a hug and a kiss like he did on Saturdays for as long as he could remember.

The Friday Relationship

Ahh Friday such a great day – the lead in to the weekend. Days off of work and a chance to wind down from the work week and be free. We think about Friday on Monday and that euphoric feeling that it brings. Fridays, no matter if for you happens to fall on a Wednesday (learned that when I first moved to Vegas “your Friday” is not always the “real” Friday) is a day that just feels different. We feel more relaxed, many businesses have instituted a casual Friday where you get to dress down, we talk about beer o’clock, gather with friends and even make plans for the weekend. The relationships we build with some people are different from the next. Social media marketing has changed the way we build relationships and how we can communicate in 140 characters and call them our friends. We live in a time where we are able to reach so many people through various mediums and tools that friending someone is as simple as a click. In the past, building relationships meant using land line telephone and setting up a time to meet face-to-face.

The Small Talk

Online, participating in twitter chats, in forums and in commenting on blogs, these are focused generally on some aspect of work with a bit of small talk of asking how someone is doing, telling them that it is good to see them around, etc. Some relationships stay this way and never go a step further but we see many where the small talk turns into a meaningful relationship. My relationship with Gracie was that casual Friday relationship for years and years. We would sit across each other at church and had the causal wave. Then it all changed with the birth of my son. After he was born, Gracie would glance over whenever my son would make the littlest noise, as did many people who sat around us. Week after week, month after month and year after year we would sit across from each other and instead of ever being Suzanne, I was just the mom to Andrew. At one time there had to be a group of 6 people that could not wait to get a hug and a kiss from him starting from when he was 2. For over 2 years the we all met at mass and would talk before mass started about their lives and a second or two about mine as they always ensured it came back to Andrew and what he was doing in his life. They followed his swim class accomplishments, his soccer skills and games and for holidays it was as if we went shopping as we would walk out with bags and bags of gifts from people who were old enough to be his grand parents and great grandparents. They loved him as if he was their own.

About a year ago, the group started to thin out as we lost one of the sweetest ladies’ husband, another couple changed masses to be with her parents, but Gracie and her mom Rose were there and took all the hugs and kisses from others. It has to be September or October of 2009 when we were told that Rose had taken ill and it was not looking good. Gracie was devastated and did not say much as her health was not great either. Gracie was a 2x cancer survivor and was fighting hard to stay in remission. Rose, the fighter that she is, recovered only to find out in December 2009 that Gracie’s cancer was back worse than ever. It was a crushing blow and then to not see her each week was difficult. Once she was well enough for visitors, we went over for what I thought would be a short visit on a Friday to catch up. Boy, was I mistaken …

The Meaningful Relationship

That first visit with Gracie when I sat on the couch and we talked and as Andrew played with his cars and the dog, Jo-Jo, we were distracted but were able to get in some bantering about my METS and her love for the Dodgers. With each visit we would spend more time talking as her mom took Andrew to her house which was directly behind Gracie’s with a nifty gate that they built into the wall. Andrew spent a lot of the visit with Rose talking, playing cars and telling her that he was allowed to watch TV shows that he really is not. Gracie and I talked and talked about everything. Her life working in the casinos, her nephew that she loved as if he was her own, her love of Barry Manilow (which every one who ever called her knew as that was on her phone) compared notes on past relationships, the assistance from the hospice as an out-patient and how wonderful they were, her nurse and her handyman husband who was helping with the rail in the tub and changes we would make to the church as, of course, together we knew best. Our Friday visits became a part of life. Each visit started and ended with Andrew giving her the biggest hugs and told her loved her followed by a sparkle in her eyes each time he said it. We knew that we did not have a whole lot of time left were hopeful that time was working in our favor.

The Final Chapter

With any relationship there is a beginning, middle and an end and this is just that. On Tuesday, I had an engagement that I had waited for but was not ready to take on. I was fortunate to have my sister here as about an hour before we had to go, I got the call that Gracie had passed away the previous evening. My heart ached. My mind shifted from what I had to do to her mom, her brother, her friend whom I had met, her nephew and my son – all who loved her so dearly but now would hurt. I could not cancel what I had to do and got through it the best I could as someone I had the casual Friday relationship with for 5 years was gone. Never to hear her laugh, see her smile or in church and never again see that sparkle in her eye when she spoke of her nephew or hugged my son.

My last Friday with Gracie she never saw me nor did I see her. I attended her memorial service at the same church that brought us together. I saw many familiar faces and many I did not know. She was loved by so many but yet in her final weeks was selective on who she spent her time with. We talked about in life people talk about what you will be remembered for but we both saw it as in our final days we wanted sit back and remember people and events that made us happy. She said it well … who gives a rats ass about what people remember us for because it will probably not be what we remember them for. I will be at a loss this Friday as anything that we do is a replacement as to what we want to be doing. She is pain free now and while we will adjust we will never forget.

Thank you Gracie for letting me into your life and loving my son as if he was your own.