We had a plan to meet up for a visit. My good friend, Irma, and I. Easy enough, she eats at 4:00 p.m.
Admittedly, I scheduled our visit like she was another appointment in my busy day. Get the kids to school, jog, conference calls, dentist appointment, and client meetings, then meet up with Irma. I was to visit my “adopted grandmother” at her senior living community. I drove like a maniac in traffic.
I arrived late. The white-haired crowd had already dispersed from dinner. Dishes were clattering, as the bussers wiped away dropped napkins, rolling peas and spilled iced tea.
A friendly woman, named Barbara, walked me to Irma’s apartment. Apparently, all of the residents know her. How can you resist Irma’s charming smile, funny stories, and kind words? The door was unlocked, as always. I knocked and called out, “Irma! It’s me!” I didn’t want to startle her.
She wasn’t there. Her place was quiet and tidy. Silk flower bouquets. Hummel figurines. A loud ticking clock, marking the seconds. An afghan to cover cold legs.
I left the chocolate chip cookies I had baked on the table, with the lace doily. “Oh, you sweet Darling. You always do such nice things for me,” I imagined her saying. I wanted to hug her frail, ninety-something-year-old shoulders. And see her twinkly eyes and her dangly earrings. The pair I gave her a decade ago. Now, far too heavy for her drooping lobes.
Where was she?
She always showered me with encouraging, complimentary words. I needed my “Irma fix.”
I navigated the maze hallway, down the elevator, and outside to her raised bed garden. In the hopes that she would be tending her delphiniums. At that same moment, Irma was meandering the maze hallway, up the elevator, looking for me.
The delphiniums were a lovely shade of periwinkle blue–though a bit weathered through the heat of summer–and were staked up. With the hopes to stay strong and perky another month. Hopeful.
Circling. Searching. I must have passed the white-haired trio of women sitting on the bench gabbing and enjoying the evening air, four times. They gave me a perplexed look.
An hour later after I had left and was driving down the freeway, Irma called me with her sunshiny voice, “Hello, Dear! I am so sorry. I took a walk and checked my flowers and got caught up talking to one of my friends.”
Of course she did. That is just so Irma.
I smiled, “It’s OK. It was my fault for being late.” (And I mentally kicked myself.) “Let’s plan another visit in a few weeks.”
And I knew that when I said that, that I had better prioritize Irma in my over scheduled life.
Because friends should not be treated like appointments. And Irma, much like her beautiful delphiniums, will not last forever.
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