Today I had a follow-up with the social worker from the hospital. She wanted me to tell her about my parents growing up and what they were like.
In short, my dad was the wisecracker and my mom was the disciplinarian. My dad had a remarkable military career and retired after he reached the position he strived for as a Lieutenant General. We moved around and he spent the last decade of his military career in the metro DC area. He then went on to head up several civilian firms before settling into consulting over a decade ago.
My mom was always the crafty one. She was a masters level bridge player in her early forties, and by the time I was in high school started and was running many local bridge games – that was in between the antiques business she dabbled in. At one point, she had 3 different storefronts at local antique markets.
While we always had familiar families that circulated in and out of our lives as we moved around and my parents had an active social schedule, I don’t recall them ever having really close friends until I was in high school. They met a couple through my dad’s job, but he wasn’t military – he was civilian. I think for the first time they had a couple who they shared interests with and could be very open with. Within the military community they were always very private.
Both Bill and Dottie died unexpectedly. Bill in 1997 and Dottie in 2002. With them, died my parents’ best and only great friends. I’m not sure why the story of my parents took me here, but I totally burst into tears in retelling this story. Maybe because I know we would be in a different place if they were both still here.
My parents could hide their dementia from acquaintances, but they wouldn’t have been able to with this couple. Had their best friends still been here, they would have talked to them about this and it wouldn’t have been us kids telling them something is wrong.
I have a lot of acquaintances and good friends, but the only person I would call when I’m upset is my husband. I have not developed or nurtured friends that I would call to share my daily life. I’m trying but I know I am not a great friend, yet. The kids will leave, the jobs will change, but great friends are one of things we need to make sure my husband and I won’t turn into my parents. Pledged.