Life is an unpredictable journey of highs and lows intertwined with moments of sadness and laughter and on some days, we get to experience them all at the same time and in the same place. Last Saturday my husband and I went to a memorial luncheon in NYC for one of his past co-workers, and while sadly enough this is becoming a recurring theme, this is one, for various reasons, I’ll remember.
From the moment we walked into the restaurant it became clear we were two of only a handful of people under the age of seventy-five and definitely outnumbered by the number of hearing aids in the room. My husband and I joked that somehow, we had missed the memo informing us hearing aids were to be a part of the attire, and within minutes of grabbing a seat I started wishing I really had one. It was easily the noisiest room I’d dined in ever, but I’m guessing after being asked the same questions of what my name was and where I lived for about the fifth time, the hearing aids being worn weren’t very helpful either.
My husband’s coworker was a lovely woman and based on his own words and some of the others in the room, she was instrumental to the start of their careers and for some including my husband, even beyond. Still, that’s not what they loved, respected and remembered her for. They loved her for the person she was. She was someone who genuinely cared about the well-being of others and kept in touch personally long after professional ties had been severed. This was evident through her friends who spoke highly and lovingly about her with such humor and candor.
Despite the noise and the hearing impairments we got to know and like her friends a little. They were humorous, perky and loud. As our conversations went from osteoporosis to incontinence and cancers to cataract and various other ailments in between, it wasn’t lost on me that younger or not, we shared a few of those ailments in common. I remember looking around the room and thinking “so this is what we have to look forward to” and for some strange reason I wasn’t totally freaked out by it, okay a little but not totally. The freeness and fondness with which they discussed D, their retirement, their children and grandchildren, the adventures of their younger days and “misdeeds” of their now older ones eating “Hanukkah hams” and forbidden bacon was amusingly refreshing.
As we sat huddled together, reading each other’s lips and shouting at each other from across the table, it was clear there was a lot said and unheard between us. But I think we got the true meaning of why we were there. The message that D was loved, respected and missed by her past coworkers and friends was conveyed and received, and that was what we had all gathered to remember on that lovely Saturday afternoon.