Yesterday, August 1, would have been her birthday, the birthday of my first best friend. In the past that would have meant my family and I would be taking her out to dinner. In typical fashion, she would have tried to share her dinner with the rest of us (so that she would have room for what was most important: dessert!).
I came across a news piece recently about a woman who is 116 years old. That article and the fact that it's the time of year for Katie's birthday have brought her especially strongly to mind. Were she still living, she too would be 116. Yes, my first best friend was 75 years older than I, but that was never an issue. As a toddler I would ask her to come over and make mud-pies in my sandbox, so she called me her “little mud-pie girl.” She didn't quite make 116, but she did live to be 95, giving me the privilege of a 20-year friendship with her.
Born in 1890, this very special lady witnessed a lot of amazing history. Cars, airplanes and computers were all invented during her lifetime. She became a teenager the year the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk. She was 16 at the time of the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake – and living in San Francisco! It wasn't until she was in her twenties that there was a “war to end all wars," which, of course, had to be renamed World War I after we ended up having a World War II.
Katie had been widowed very young but often spoke of her “hubby.” I had so hoped to introduce her to my hubby, but she passed away 2 years before my wedding. Katie had no children, and as far as I know the only family she had was one nephew who has also now passed away. Although she has no living relatives and was not widely known, she is not yet forgotten. I imagine not many people visit her grave, but I do.
When I look at her headstone, I feel sad, but I feel something else too.
Her middle initial “R” is there between her first and last names. Even if someone passing by were to notice her small headstone, only a handful could possibly know what the “R” stands for.
I am one of those few.
Her middle name was Rebecca, and when I see that “R” and whisper her name, I feel there remains a little secret shared between my first best friend and her little mud-pie girl.
After 21 years I still miss you Katie.