Posts Tagged ‘first stages of grief after elderly friend dies’

In memory of a real friend


  Suddenly, it sounds like every bird around are each singing at once.  My mind feels empty but my heart is exploding with a deep sadness.  

I learned today that my dear friend passed on this morning. 

I don’t like death.  I just don’t.  I miss people who die.  And now, my dear friend, a man I considered my accidental adopted father, Sonny, has left this earth. 

Sonny was an amazing human being.  I’ve never known anyone who experienced as many losses in one lifetime as Sonny did and adding to that was a will to live like no other I’ve ever seen.  

I watched Sonny carry on after losing three sons, two of whom I knew and loved.  They each passed on at different times in life, the last one, Sonny’s oldest son, passed not too long ago, the loss of which did have a severe impact on my friend Sonny. 

The last time I saw him he said he wished he could come live with me and I wanted him to.  I really did.  Then I could see him I thought.  Even if he died I could be with him.  I considered it wondering if home health would come in.  I would have taken care of him if I had been able.  I would have until his last day. 

I wish it wasn’t so.  I wish I’d gone three days ago, two weeks ago, and I wish I’d done what he said when I talked to him several weeks ago. 

“Sugar, you should call me every day the rest of my life.” 

Sonny knew and so did I. 

I had gone to visit him not long ago,which was the last time I saw Sonny, and was so sad to see him in the shape he was in.  He recognized me though and he knew my son too. 

I took a picture of us with my cell phone and he could barely see it but he laughed and said, “Sugar you look about as bad as I do.”

I laughed too thinking how at least somebody could see my illness. 

Sonny saw my illness and it made him sad.  He missed too the way I was before but he loved me as I was.  Sonny called me when he saw something on television about fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome or mental illness.  God Sonny loved us! 

He sang me a song not long ago.  I was so sad I couldn’t think and now I can’t remember the name of it.  He sang the words — I’ve always got you on my mind —  his voice was fragile but he still managed to sing to me.  He didn’t care how it sounded.  He told me it was so.  He said I was always on his mind. 

Sonny was at the state hospital with me when my son was very ill and I didn’t know what was wrong.  He was there all the way through it and sat beside of me when the doctors told me words that took me down, literally, and Sonny held me while I cried tears that felt like they came from the bottom of the ocean. 

Sonny was a mechanic and loved old Mustangs.  I was 26 years old when I first pulled my 1966  into the gas station’s parking lot.  The first man I met had the same name as my father and reminded me a bit of him.  My father had passed away shortly before.  Seeing my car the man called out to Sonny.  I couldn’t believe it.  He looked just like my dad only he had gray hair.  He sounded like my dad.  He moved like my dad.  I felt nearly haunted. 

He had a small cigar dangling from the corner of his mouth.  He loved my car and made some pretty common remarks you might hear at a gas station in reference to the looks of the driver, if the driver is female that is.  From that day forward, Sonny became my adopted father.I never  told Sonny certain things my dad had always done for me, such as fixing my car problems and buying my son and I a coat every Christmas.  These were things my dad did for me, no matter what.  My dad didn’t have much money but what he had he handled it well.   Oddly, when I met Sonny and told him how much he was like my dad, he began doing these exact things. 

Now I cry.  I knew Sonny leaving would make me miss my dad more too. 

I don’t like death.  It is too sad.  People leave forever.  

Sonny always told me I changed his life.  He became a bachelor after he met me and he lived happily ever after, calling his ex-wives by numbers.  “Wife number two called today,” or “number three.”  They were always calling and he enjoyed telling folks about how so many women wanted him. 

“I feel like a nineteen year-old in an old man’s body,” he’d say enthusiastically.  

I cry again.  His first wife died, the mother of their sons who have died. 

Sonny carried on.  Sonny always carried on… 

Sonny was a funny man.  He and my mother got along great because of their joke-telling abilities.  The first time my oldest sister met Sonny she cried.  She was very close to our dad and when she saw Sonny’s blue eyes, she cried.  They looked exactly like our dad’s. 

His daughter told me today that he went outside yesterday.  He got dressed.  He wanted to sit in the sun.   He was just like my dad.  Even in the end they wanted to wear nice clothes.  They liked being neat and clean.  They wanted to look handsome.  And they did.  

I was driving home at dusk yesterday.  I felt that feeling of being in between.  Not quite dark but no longer day.  I thought of my dog’s nearby gravesite.  Sonny.  I thought of him right then.  I had been thinking the past few days — call Sonny, no go see him, but I didn’t.  So for that too, I cry.  I wish so much I could have said good-bye. 

Sonny gave me a Subaru once.  The greatest little car I’ve ever had.  Sonny helped my son once and I don’t know what we would have done otherwise. 

Sonny listened when I cried.  He listened when I spoke.  He heard me.  

 He completely loved my son.  He said he saw him the same as his own grandson.  

Sonny always told me I was a good mother.  If I said I felt otherwise, he had a never-ending list of reminders for me of all that he remembered while I was raising my son.  My son was about seven or eight when we met Sonny. 

Sonny was my dear and good friend.