Unexpected people touch our lives. As Valentine's Day is nearing I have been thinking about two individuals I lost last year at that time.
The Lady...Mary Morgan Oliver. She came into my life when I first started dating my husband, 23 years ago. She lived across the street from my future in-laws from the day they bought their house. In the end they would be friends for over 50 years. She and my MIL were best buddies. They shared joys, sadness, births, husbands careers, vacations, holidays, service groups, secrets, etc. They were sisters without the blood connection. Mary would even call my MIL's sisters just to chat...and they lived in different states.
When you met Mary you would have the thought, here is a soul who is a tomboy, loves life, is easy going and truly listens to what others have to say. She would remember what you told her and was always asking about something you had talked about in the past. She cared about others. She was a true lady.
She was the wife of a college professor and attorney as well as a mother of two. Her husband had the idea that they should try to make wine out of grapes. He started his hobby in their basement and she encouraged the adventure. She loved picnics and family gatherings. She also enjoyed socializing with her friends.
Her community mattered to her and she served on several boards feeling a special connection to our local hospital. When she passed away I don't think our community really realized the loss we had been dealt.
Mary was one of the few people I have known who would always find the positive in life. Maybe that's why I liked her so much...just being around her was uplifting.
The Mailman...Within a few days of Mary passing away my mailman also died. It was another incredible loss for our community, but on a different level. Another loss that I don't think many even paused to realize.
Arthur (Artie) D'Antonio was due to retire in June. He too loved life. It wasn't until he passed away that I found out how educated this man was. He went to school to be a lawyer. He had top honors in his classes. He chose a more simple life. When you met him you knew right away that the loves of his life were his wife, Shannon, his son (Artie Jr.) , baseball and his gardens. He had this wonderful New York accent and a raspy voice. He definitely had been a smoker long ago. Artie too loved life and smiled constantly. He always had a smart-a-lic, funny comment to make, but would be truly concerned if you weren't having a good day.
He was my mailman for over 8 years. I remember him wishing me a happy birthday when I first moved in. I told him it wasn't fair that he knew my name and a lot about me, but I didn't know anything about him. He introduced himself and that's when our friendship started to grow. He'd slyly bring packages to my door at Christmas time - so the kids wouldn't see the labels to see what Santa had bought. He'd put notes in my mailbox telling me to tell my husband the weather was going to be good, "so get out and put up those Christmas lights!"...probably a federal offense! He'd bring me flower clippings and starters from things in his yard - when he wasn't even on the clock. He'd get out of his mail car and come around the back of my house when I had my mulch delivered just to goad me that a neighbor down the street was farther along in spreading her mulch.
I really knew we were more than just acquaintances when he had to be off work for several weeks due to surgery and he told me ahead of time about it and said, "you need to stop by and see my roses." I didn't stop by. I felt too weird in doing so. After he was back on duty he told me he was really hurt that another neighbor lady and I didn't stop by to see his roses. From then on...I went to see his roses. I went to see his Christmas lights, his pool, his landscaping plans, etc.
Artie reminded me of my dad. Fun loving and enjoying life, happy with all he'd been blessed.
As the one year anniversary for these two souls passing is marked, I will remind myself of all I admired in them. I will try to honor them both by embracing their spirits and touching others as they touched me.
Life is too short. I've seen the end...we need to enjoy each day.