Today in My History2000: A Change of Plans
2001: Kill the Wabbit
2002: Chutes and Ladders
2003: Wild Kingdom
2004: The Changeling
2005: Dear Dr. X
2006: 15 Things About Books
2007: Social Debut
2008: Why I Hate Facebook
2009: Crawling Back to Life
Same Job, New Stage
Crazy for You
Books Read in 2010
"Madonnas of Leningrad"
Recipes for Cousins Day Drinks
(updated 3/17/10) And Then I Ate
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Jean Sibelius Memorial from Bev Sykes on Vimeo.
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MY FRIEND DIANE
9 July 2010
She wasn't my friend, really. At least not at the beginning. She and my boss, Ann Holke, had been friends for many years. They were both medical transcriptionists who had raised children together and when Ann relocated to California, they kept in touch by mail, spurts of mail. Years of closeness, followed by years of not so much closeness, followed by years of closeness again.
It was one of those "years of closeness" periods when Ann, who owned The Typing Company for which I worked, invited Diane, who had just been fired from her job at one of Seattle's leading hospitals (in what was one of the worst cases of injustices ever) to come and help out in our office during the "end of the quarter" period, which was always such a terribly stressful time for everyone.
Diane flew down from Seattle and worked in the office for a week or two. We became fast friends. She had an amazing sense of humor and we laughed and laughed and laughed. She would do such outlandish things. For example, she wore a prosthetic breast, following breast cancer surgery. One day I came back from lunch and the thing was sitting on my chair...it had gotten too heavy for her to wear, so she just took it off.
By the time she returned to Seattle, we had become good friends. I can't remember the first time I went to Seattle to spend some time with her, but there were several trips, sometimes on the train, sometimes I flew in. We both shared an addiction to food and so my visits always centered around how we could pack in the most calories--the best restaurants, the most sinful snacks, all the while knowing how bad we were being, but loving being with someone who understood.
On one trip to visit her, I brought some pecan amaretto bread that I had made that she was still raving over years later.
Peggy and I went up to spend time with her when Peggy was here in California. She had met Diane thru the weight-loss-by-mail group I had run for awhile, and was eager to meet her in person. We spent a week at Diane's house, traveling all over the area, all of us indulging in our love for photography. I remember Peggy helping negotiate a special price on a new computer for Diane and the work she went through getting it all set up for her. I don't know if she ever used all the bells and whistles. I can't count the number of times I had SOS e-mails from her that she didn't know how to do such and such. It always amazed me that she was the head of the medical transcription department for the University of Seattle, that she was the troubleshooter for banks of computers but that she couldn't figure out how to attach a photo to an e-mail.
She introduced me to the tulip festival of Skagit Valley and I went with her three years in a row to see the blankets of tulips.
Over the years, I listened to her tales of woe as medical transcription changed, and suffered with her through the planned sabotage that led to her leaving the department, the pain that she felt at being stabbed in the back for a second time.
But by the time she left the University, daughter Wendy was pregnant with her first grandchild. Wendy and her husband, who walked on water, as far as Diane was concerned, were married in a small ceremony at a wedding chapel at Lake Tahoe. Walt and I were honored to be invited as, I think the only non-family members to attend.
But now Joey was expected and when he was born, he was the apple of his grandmother's eye. She got to see him every day and was there for all the firsts. Her e-mails just bubbled with her happiness at having this little guy in her life. Of course she bought a special camera to take pictures so she could share them with me, and never figured out how the camera worked, so I saw very few pictures.
A few years later along came the twins, Danica and Brooke. By now Diane had sold her condo and moved to a place closer to the kids and became a part-time babysitter and invaluable help to Wendy. Of course the promised baby photos again never materialized, though I did get this one sent in August of last year, when the twins were 10 months old and Joey 4 years old. (She didn't know how to make the photo larger, so this was the size I got.)
Family meant everything to her and her life revolved around the time she spent with her daughter and family, and also with her sister and brother, when she had time to spend with them. She positively glowed when she talked about her family.
She loved cats, the way I love dogs. She always had a couple in her house and feral cats that she fed and tried to catch to have neutered. It was a cat house, literally. The cats had no boundaries and I do remember feeling a bit uncomfortable when the cats were allowed to share the dinner table (and our food and drink) with us!
She adored all my dog tales, though, despite her love of cats. She begged for more...more...more pictures when I had puppies (and her encouragement was what prompted me to write so many dog entries). She always pushed me to adopt a dog that I had fallen in love with and we had good-natured battles about why I couldn't adopt every one of them. I think she finally came to accept that, after many long years of trying to get me to save each and every one of those special dogs.
She suffered from health problems for many years and I know was thinking of a hip replacement. But she was like the energizer bunny. She just kept going and going and going through the pain, through the shortness of breath, through everything.
The one thing she couldn't keep going through was the heart attack that took her life yesterday morning. Her beloved son-in-law called me this evening to give me the sad news. I am numb.
She became my friend and I loved her. I will miss her humor. I will miss knowing that she was there if I wanted a reason to go to Seattle. I will miss her e-mails and her nagging. And I think I need to go have some gooey high caloric thing in her memory. She would love that.
Today's video was taken at the Sibelius memorial in Helsinki. These musicians stand there and play music by Sibelius for tips from the tourists. I only used half the footage that I shot because the actual visual is pretty boring, but I find it difficult to stop shooting a video if there is a musician in the MIDDLE of a piece. I always try to end either at the end of the piece, or at the very least at the end of a phrase.
PHOTO OF THE DAY