Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

She Did Everything Right

When I was a little girl growing up in Alaska, we had neighbors who lived just across the creek. Our neighbors had a daughter 6 years older than me; she was my first babysitter. Growing up, those six years made all the difference – we didn’t know one another as friends, the gap was too great. Our families were very close, however, and when my parents would go to parties at her parents house, they would take us and put us to bed in her bed.

I saw her now and then through the years, but our lives were in different places. When I was just getting married, she had big boys, by the time my son was a teenager, hers were getting married and going to college. We reconnected in Florida, of all places, where we both ended up at the same time due to our husband’s jobs.

Having our Alaska childhood in common, having grown up together and knowing each other’s family through all the years created a strong bond. We saw each other often; she was like a big sister to me.

She always had it all together. She had a group that bicycled together every morning, and then had outings later in the day. She was a fitness buff, and ran in the mornings before she bicycled. She kept herself thin, and she loved to cook, but she could eat what she wanted because she exercised it all off.

She was a reader, and would pass along the really good books to me. She and her husband were also news buffs, so when we would get together with our husbands, there was never a dull moment at the dinner table.

She and her husband were sent to Egypt, and to Rumallah, and to China, and they made the most of every minute. They loved traveling, they loved their sailing boat, they loved their family. They would come to visit us in our places of the world, and we would have great reunions. They were so alive.

She could be annoying. She would chide me about not exercising enough. She would comment on how much food people ate. She always knew the latest in medical research to back herself up. She kept her mind active, and she kept her weight down. She exercised, she travelled, she took care of her parents, she did good works for others. She did everything right.

A couple years ago, we joined her and her husband for dinner. She hadn’t combed her hair. She weighed about 20 lbs more, and didn’t seem to notice. She couldn’t remember the last book she had read, and she couldn’t remember her recent trip to Mexico, or an earlier one to Spain.

It’s been downhill since then. Her loving husband is strong and able to care for her, this once-beautiful, sprite-like, spirited woman. I think she still knew me, when I saw her last summer, but she can no longer really express what she is thinking. She is restless, up and down from the table, and not able to participate in the conversation.

I am haunted. I am so much like her; I tried to live up to all that she has taught me. A part of me wants to scream at God “This isn’t fair! She did everything right!”

Perhaps doing everything right gave her a few extra years, and I am just not seeing things from the right perspective. Meanwhile, I get no answers, and my heart breaks when I think of her.

November 5, 2007 - Posted by | Alaska, Biography, Family Issues, Florida, Friends & Friendship, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Marriage, Relationships


  1. She does sound like she did do everything right. She may not deserve what is happening to her, cos such high spirited happy and caring people are hard to come by. But then again, you never know what the future holds and always remember God works in mysterious ways. And just cos it happened to her does not mean the same will happen to u. Live your life and dont worry about what COULD happen in the future, you are only giving urself a headache you dont need. Sorry to hear about ur friend, and hope she gets better, esp with her husband by her side.

    Comment by Fonzy | November 5, 2007 | Reply

  2. Well… people change by time & it’s hard to maintain a certain routine – people just let go! I am sad for you on being sad on her, hope she gets better soon & snaps outta it

    Comment by Chika | November 5, 2007 | Reply

  3. I too had many answer-less questions to the situation I was going through and looking back at those, I think it is a remainder that not everything we think right is right.

    There could be a lot of things which we aren’t aware of is right.

    Comment by Joel | November 5, 2007 | Reply

  4. I think its a phase people need to go through , you cant help it, but you also leave it … no one stays like that forever.

    Comment by Blue Dress | November 5, 2007 | Reply

  5. Life overwhelms you at times, and sometimes it seems that nothing is worth it
    She must’ve gotten tiered of keeping up
    That is such a story that started in Alaska and ended up in Florida.. just seems to be out of a novel šŸ™‚
    It could be a phase, simply don’t cut off links with that woman and keep her encouraged. Be an example of what she used to be and inspire her to keep on going
    May god nurture your beautiful friendship

    Comment by Kaos | November 5, 2007 | Reply

  6. Has she seen a doctor?

    Comment by Elijah | November 5, 2007 | Reply

  7. Elijah – oh, yes, many many times, and she is under care for Alzheimers. I guess I should have made that clear, but it’s like we all avoid the “A” word.

    You are right, Fonzy, there is probably a lot going on we can neither see nor understand. For me, it is just painful seeing such a vibrant, beautiful, woman, so careful in all her personal habits, lose to this destructive syndrome. And there is an irony – at one point, a year ago, I would say she was happier than I had ever known her to be. Her conscientiousness had made her a little edgy and competitive, and all that is gone now. She is a shell of her former self. Thank you for your compassion and your kind words.

    Chika, this is one of those diseases that has a one way path. The best that can happen is that it’s progress slows.

    Joel – Your compassionate answer brought tears to my eyes.

    Blue Dress – You are right, we can’t fight what is in store for us. But I feel like I am in mourning for my friend, even though she is still alive, the spirit that was her essence isn’t there, or if it is, she can no longer express it. She was SO alive.

    Kaos – I will actually be seeing her again soon, and I am taking her something I hope will evoke some memories. I do love her; she was like my older sister, watching over me and guiding me. Thank you for your beautiful words.

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 5, 2007 | Reply

  8. You shouldn’t worry about becoming like her. Everybody ends up in a different situation and only time will tell what it has in store for you. Remember to keep your spirits high and embrace every moment you have so that you get the most of your life šŸ™‚

    Comment by 3baid | November 5, 2007 | Reply

  9. Thank you, 3baid. I know you’re right. Sometimes it’s just hard to accept.

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 5, 2007 | Reply

  10. That must be rough to see, especially since you were so close. I don’t think you should worry though, and as long as u now have that idea set in mind, you will most probably not be like her at all- in terms of her going downhill- just remember the good things : ) ihope things turn out better for her too.

    Comment by vixenfatale | November 9, 2007 | Reply

  11. that must be hard for you to see her that way, especially since you were close .. i wouldn’t worry about it though, and since you now have that idea or fear in your head, you will probably steer clear of letting yourself go.. help her : ) i hope things turn out better for her.

    Comment by vixenfatale | November 10, 2007 | Reply

  12. Vixen, you are so sweet and so kind. Altzheimer’s is not something we know how to avoid. If we could – as I said – this woman did everything right, everything we are told. She kept thin, she exercised, she stayed mentally active – and still she is afflicted. Alzheimers is not known to be avoidable or reversible. All we can do is love her and walk this tragic path with her as best we can.

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 10, 2007 | Reply

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