You will often hear me say that there are people that are brought into your life, not by chance, but because they were supposed to be there..and just at the time it was meant to be. Today, I want to tell you about my friend Linda. You have heard her name before many times because she is the person that has been with me since the beginning of the Bring Smiles to Seniors program. When I asked her to go on this journey with me, she responded with a resounding yes and we set off to change the senior world a little bit at a time.
Linda and my story starts back when we were both living in New Jersey. I was building a new home in the Lake Hopatcong area and Linda and her husband had originally picked another property within the development to build their home. However, they would eventually change their mind and build on the lot next to ours. One day we happened to be checking on our construction when two cars pulled up in front of our house. Out stepped Linda, her husband, daughter, Linda’s mother, father and her grandmother that we soon learned would all be living in the house next door. We had no idea what we were in for, but we knew in talking with them we may have just hit the jackpot.
Over the first few years we did all the neighborly things we were supposed to do. We attended block parties together. I would sit with Linda’s husband Joe having a cigar on his back patio. When I broke my arm it was Joe who drove me to the hospital. Linda’s mom would come over and visit our cat Moochie through the front screen of the house. While cordial and friendly, as neighbors should be, that was about as far as things went until some very trying times came. Within the course of a couple of years Linda lost her best friend unexpectedly, her father, her mother, her grandmother and then her husband to cancer…all by the age of 47.
It was through all of this that I began to see the power of this amazing woman. She pulled herself together to care for her daughter, made the decision for a fresh start and moved to Florida and dealt with the loss the best that she could to ensure that she and her daughter’s life continued. Was it easy? No it wasn’t! Yet the inner strength of this woman and the connection we made working through all these passings created a bond between the two of us that ensured that we would be friends, no family, for a lifetime.
A year after Linda I wound up moving back to Tampa and once again we live houses apart in the same development. Do you believe for one second that all of that happened by chance? Of course not. As I dealt with the death of my grandmother, she was there for me and the culmination of all this grief between us was the catalyst for Bring Smiles to Seniors being born. Out of the ashes rose the phoenix that lives on to bring smiles to so many across the country in need.
For 10 years I watched my friend focus on ensuring that what was left of her family was taken care of, as she worked to become a new person herself. Now having once again opened herself to the world, she is in a relationship again and in the process of moving to a new life and making life her own. I admire and love her for who she is and what she has meant to me and know that without a shadow of a doubt she will always be family and will always be there. We should all have someone like that.
I am sure that you too have people in your life that have touched you in one way or another. When we think we have it tough there’s are always those that have it a little bit tougher. We watch them and learn as we navigate our own life path and it is always important to validate the part that they have played in shaping your own life and future. So here is to you my friend Linda and your amazing new future. Recognize that someone in your life today and help validate both of your reasons for having met.
Have a great weekend and remember to be the reason someone smiles.
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