Ten years ago a water line burst by the front sidewalk of the house between us. Bobbie came out to see the water plume and apologized for not introducing herself sooner. We’d moved in a few months prior, and she’d been “so busy she’d forgotten her manners.” The next day we found a freshly baked loaf of bread left at our kitchen door. It didn’t take long for us to hit it off, and we became good friends, dining together often.
Bobbie loved to host little gatherings, and would spend hours preparing her favorite goodies, for the joy of watching you eat them. When my wife would protest and say she should stop, Bobbie would scold her and say, “No one’s counting, dear, have another.” One of her favorite pastimes was dining out. We’d begin the evening with drinks and some little nibbles at her house, before we’d climb into my car, over her protest, to head to the restaurant. In a car, Bobbie’s view of the road was limited by the dashboard, so I was always relieved when she agreed to let me drive.
Wherever we went she’d be warmly greeted on a first name basis by the maitre de. Bobbie would whisper to him or her, “I’m the hostess,” to get a jump on our regular argument about who was paying for dinner that night. I learned to defer more times than not when she peered over her glasses with a look that said, “Don’t go there.”
There isn’t anyone I’d rather have a cocktail and conversation with than Bobbie. Dewar’s with a twist, one ice cube for her; Crown Royale, lots of ice, for me. She is classy, educated and well connected in the community, and I learned much from her. My wife and I both missed her greatly when my job returned us to Michigan after being her neighbor for two years.
As fate would have it, four years later we moved back. In the months leading up to the move, Bobbie delighted in playing bed and breakfast hostess to my wife whose new job was responsible for our return. Bobbie adores my wife and treated her like one of her own children, making breakfast every morning and dinner most nights, unless she insisted on “hosting” dinner out. I’d join them a day or two occasionally when I came to look at houses. Bobbie would save me little things to fix around her house because she knew I was handy and it gave us time to enjoy each others company.
The morning of our move back, my wife couldn’t reach Bobbie by phone, and knew something was wrong. In her basement that morning, Bobbie was on the floor and couldn’t get to the phone because she’d had a stroke. I was reminded of all this the other night when responding to a local fire with the American Red Cross. I was there to assist a lovely elderly woman who was displaced and confused, and waiting for my assistance in her building lobby, sitting in a wheel chair, in her pajamas. She had a warm smile when I greeted her that reminded me of Bobbie, and I hugged her and let her know she was going to be all right. Bobbie is a tad confused and forgetful now, too, in the assisted living home where we visit her. We don’t share cocktails anymore. She is still a great hostess though, and offers me treats of gourmet chocolate. I always take two with a hug and a kiss, because no one is counting.