She Saw Friends Where Others Saw Strangers


I came across my mom’s old address book the other day when I was cleaning out a drawer. Oh my, if that book could talk! Over the years, my mom has misplaced that little book so many times and then searched for days until she or we had located it. It was her lifeline to the many friends she has made at home, here in PA, and on her travels.

As I leafed through it, I could see that it was not only a makeshift address book but that she had also made little diary entries here and there. Under the address of one dear friend at the assisted living facility where Mom used to live, she had noted the date that this friend fell in front of the building and broke her hip and how she couldn’t believe how fast it had happened. I recalled that Mom had been out walking with her at the time she fell. Sadly, the friend never fully regained her health after that fall and passed away several months later. There was an address for a lady that my mother had sat next to at a play. That chance meeting had resulted in a friendship over the years. There was her doctor back in Michigan. When she was still living back there, she would always back a batch of rolls and bring them in to her appointments for the doctor and the receptionist.


A few pages over was the name and address of the wife of the local hardware store owner. Years ago Mom had struck up a conversation with her in the store and that developed into a cross-generational friendship that bloomed for many years. On another page was someone’s address in an unfamiliar hand. Ah yes, that was the waitress who waited on us one day at breakfast. Mom had insisted on taking her picture as she brought us our meals and then had her write down her address so Mom could send her a copy of the picture. Oh, oh….now I’d found a little ditty that I’d written down for her as her memory was starting to go. She’d circled it so she must have liked it. “I’m lost and I’m going to look for myself. If I should return before I get back, please ask me to wait.”

More entries followed. Here was a hospital address with the notation “former parent”, meaning Mom used to teach this person’s child in school. Another address had the note “I met the following lady at Widows Indeed. She prayed for my needs.” Here was the name and address for a lady she’d met at the Senior Center. I remember how Mom would go pick this lady up and bring her over to our house so she could play our piano. The woman loved to play but didn’t own a piano. I saw names of postal clerks who had been particularly helpful, former hospital roommates, a local neighborhood girl who had been her penpal as part of a school assignment.


Near the end of the little memo book, I noticed she had started jotting down notes from sermons she’d listen to on the radio. She always enjoyed listening to Christian stations until the day when she couldn’t remember any longer how to turn on her radio. The last page in her book was “10 Ways to a Better Life” and it certainly seemed a fitting summary for the last page and for the life my Mom has modeled. My mom never really saw people as strangers. She always saw them as potential friends and her attitude and actions have given her a life rich in friendships over the years. Sadly, a series of strokes have finally left this spunky lady unable to do much these days other than eat a little and sleep a lot. But her legacy lives on in the lives of every person in this little book and everyone else that she has reached out to in her lifetime.


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