Unexpected Visits

http://lh5.ggpht.com/gallant.christopher/R0trya7cZYI/AAAAAAAAAKE/mJ54FJMa690/s400/FreshCutGrass_3360x1050.jpg Connie Shannon “When you open the tennis can and it whistles, histoplasmosis think of me” -  Karen The other morning, histoplasmosis an old friend came to see me. She and I and some other members from my tennis club were seated at a church service, histoplasmosis in my dreams. Dreams are funny. They feel so real at the time we are dreaming them. I haven’t thought of Karen in a while. Life moves us forward and memories of those who’ve left us are eventually placed on our memory shelves, histoplasmosis until those times we are compelled to remember them. It was one of those dreams that stayed with me after I woke up. Karen was a friend of mine I met at my club where I play tennis. I wouldn’t say she and I became fast friends. She was older than I was and a better player. I remember when I first met her, histoplasmosis I was intimidated. Histoplasmosis On the court and off, histoplasmosis she could be tough and no nonsense at times. Histoplasmosis   In the same breath, histoplasmosis she was the first to laugh at herself, histoplasmosis and had this naturally light, histoplasmosis gracious demeanor.  And more than (almost) anything, histoplasmosis Karen loved tennis.  She was a terrific doubles player and formidable competitor. Histoplasmosis Everything Karen did, histoplasmosis she did exceptionally well. And for someone new to town, histoplasmosis who primarily joined the club to socialize and meet people, histoplasmosis Karen’s strong alpha presence was something I had to warm up to. Which is one of the reasons why taking up tennis has been so good for me. Sports teach us a lot about ourselves and about others. I guess you could say I didn’t get to know Karen well until she became ill. She was playing out on the court one day and fell and fractured her hip. The injury led to her finding she had Stage four bone cancer. After she had been diagnosed, histoplasmosis some friends at the club and I began to take dinners to her house once a week (which grew into more evenings as time passed) , histoplasmosis which turned into welcomed weekly get togethers for everyone.  One various weekdays, histoplasmosis I would take her two terriers for a walk.   To be more accurate, histoplasmosis it was the terriers who walked me.    They were small, histoplasmosis but incredibly strong for their size and equally enthusiastic for a run around the neighborhood.   At times when the chemo and radiation sapped her of almost all of her strength and energy, histoplasmosis we would take turns driving Karen to the hospital for treatments. During such times, histoplasmosis we’d catch up on the typical things happening over at the club - what matches were going on, histoplasmosis  who was playing well and any club gossip she may have missed. Histoplasmosis We’d talk about how the chemo treatments were going, histoplasmosis which ones had worked, histoplasmosis which ones weren’t, histoplasmosis and how she was feeling. Histoplasmosis   Interestingly, histoplasmosis in knowing others who have gone through chemotherapy, histoplasmosis Karen actually looked forward to her treatments which seemed to make her feel better. Histoplasmosis   They seemed to give her energy. It was only when her blood count would become too low that she couldn’t receive treatments, histoplasmosis which was difficult for her in many ways namely because of the cancer spreading. Histoplasmosis   At other times, histoplasmosis Karen would tell me about her days in the working world as an Advertising exec, histoplasmosis of which I have no doubt she was probably the best in her field and/or at least her division. Histoplasmosis   She did mention on a few occasions stories of being a female in a very male world, histoplasmosis and shared some stories of things she had to put up with at the time, histoplasmosis as being the only woman at her level.   There were other things we didn’t talk about too much, histoplasmosis but things she and I both understood. Karen had been in a long term relationship with another woman, histoplasmosis whom she spoke of rarely, histoplasmosis more or less in passing.  She had mentioned to me she had joined the club not long after her break up with her partner. I can’ t remember how long exactly they had been together. Histoplasmosis They had been together quite a while. Histoplasmosis To Karen, histoplasmosis the break up was pretty abrupt and unexpected.  One afternoon I was over helping Karen get the upstairs cleaned up in her home. Histoplasmosis   We were cleaning in the bathroom, histoplasmosis and I went to unplug a curling iron sitting on the counter which curiously was on, histoplasmosis but Karen didn’t use a curling iron.  She stopped me before I could turn it off.   The curling iron belonged to her ex and Karen kept it plugged in and turned on since the day her partner left  some years before. The curling iron stayed on until Karen died.  For some reason, histoplasmosis this has remained with me. I remember the ex partner failing to make it over to visit Karen when she was ill, histoplasmosis or when she was dying.  That has remained with me as well. Ironically, histoplasmosis if irony is the word, histoplasmosis it seemed to be the chapter in Karen’s life which brought her to the club, histoplasmosis and to us for a time being.    In the eleventh hour of Karen’s time here, histoplasmosis she even managed to make us laugh. Histoplasmosis Two nights before Karen passed, histoplasmosis our crew of friends were over trying to help Karen get things as situated as possible.  Before the illness took over, histoplasmosis Karen was always very organized and orderly. Histoplasmosis   However, histoplasmosis as the illness progressed and her body weakened, histoplasmosis she was less physically able, histoplasmosis needless to say to move up and down the stairs to get things done.    By this point, histoplasmosis Karen was bed ridden, histoplasmosis on oxygen full time and extremely weak.     We were searching for the title papers for one of her Vespas which she was giving to her niece and nephews.   As the search was proving unsuccessful, histoplasmosis Karen was becoming frustrated to the point that she exclaimed the best she could, histoplasmosis “I’m not going anywhere until we find those papers!” While we finally found the papers and she felt at ease, histoplasmosis we teased with Karen that, histoplasmosis if she was not going to leave, histoplasmosis then there was no reason in finding them.  I’m glad Karen came to see me the other morning, histoplasmosis if only in my dreams. Histoplasmosis It prompted me take her memory off the ’shelf ‘and pay tribute to a wonderful person and spirit, histoplasmosis who was incredibly full of life and enthusiasm while she was here.  Karen lived by her own standards and passions, histoplasmosis fell deeply in love with a woman at a time and in a working world where it was anything but fashionable, histoplasmosis and she fought her illness as hard as she fought her opponents on the court.   She held the bone cancer at bay for a while too - longer than many. Histoplasmosis    There was one point during her illness that she was feeling better, histoplasmosis the chemo was ‘working’, histoplasmosis and she would take her beloved Vespa out for a spin and would drive to the club to watch the drop in doubles on the weekend. Histoplasmosis   I remember Saturday she was there.  She mentioned to me how incredible it was to smell the cut grass as she was driving over that morning.  She had tears in her eyes when she talked.  Whenever I smell fresh cut grass, histoplasmosis I always think of Karen. Histoplasmosis And after writing this, histoplasmosis I’m reminded to remember her when the tennis can whistles.  Love you Karen. Histoplasmosis