Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Too Young To Die At 98

I originally wrote this in 2007. Fae McCoy. 
I miss her still. Here she is in her early 90s.

On April 22, 2007, I received a phone call telling me that my dear friend, Fae McCoy had died. It was quite sudden. She just dropped to the floor and was gone. I'm in shock and feeling her loss so deeply.

I met Fae in 1989 when I moved into a small apartment building in Burbank CA. She lived directly across the yard from me. She came right over and introduced herself. At 80 years young, she was still walking, running, practically skipping across the courtyard to my front porch that day. I remember her tiny figure, her silvery hair pulled back in a wonderfully messy bun and the permanent sparkle in her clear blue eyes. And that smile - it could light the darkest night.

We soon became good friends. There was one large tree in the center of the courtyard and it offered cool shade on those hot summer days. We used to sit under it most afternoons and talk for hours. I found her to be incredibly intelligent and articulate. And funny. Her take on whichever politicians were occupying the White House at the time always had me chuckling. And her religious and philosophical beliefs leaned more to the metaphysical than traditional, which I admired incredibly. She was different and I loved that about her.

When I moved away in 2002, we still kept in touch. She never got a computer (it took me a decade to convince her to get cable tv) so I printed letters in large print (although her body stayed strong, her eyesight was failing - her only complaint about getting old) and sent actual photos of our new house, our new dogs, etc. Then I'd call her and we'd talk about them and about her.

She'd go on and on about her visits to the senior center (she didn't really like it there - too many old people), which neighbors still lived in the building, and her trips to the grocery store every week. She still did her own shopping and loved to share recipes for healthy organic meals with me. In fact, all our conversations eventually turned to food. She always wanted to try something new but was nervous about strange foods. I'd tell her what I had found or tried or discovered and she'd put some of those things in her grocery cart the following week. I took her to her first sushi restaurant. She even used the chopsticks that day. Her first California Roll and she quite liked it.

She read my first novel and loved it. She was as proud of me as a parent would be, though we weren't related by blood. We were related by our love for one another. I think she thought of me as one of her daughters sometimes (there were 30 years between us) and I was honored by that love and acceptance from her.

I called her every three to four weeks. My last call was just a month before she passed. We were joking about planning her 100th birthday party the following year. I can hardly believe she's gone.

On each August 13th, I celebrate for her. I know she'll be somewhere watching and smiling. Her smile lit up so many lives while she was here. She had been a teacher, a wife, a mother, a grandmother and great grandmother. And she had been one of my dearest friends. She was a great lady and will be sorely missed.

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