My Best Friend’s Father

October 30, 2011

My best friend’s father died today. And that makes me very sad. Sad for her and her entire family. Do you have a best friend? The kind of friend that knows you inside and out, can finish your sentences before you do, the kind of friend you can have a conversation with without ever speaking any words, simply because you know what the other is thinking by looking in their eyes? The kind of friend you can go a long time without seeing or speaking to, but it doesn’t matter how much time passes because when you next meet or talk it’s as if no time has passed at all and you pick up right where you left off? The kind of friend that you swear you must have been separated at birth from because you’re more like sisters than friends? I’m lucky enough to have such a friend; my very best friend in the world. Her name is Jackie. And today a very big piece of Jackie died along with her father.

When we were teenagers Jackie’s house was the place to be, the place to hang out and the place to hold parties. Ted and Arlene were pretty cool for parents, at least many of us thought so. So much so some of us kind of adopted them as second parents. I remember them saying years later that they always believed in having their home open to their children’s friends, because if we all hung out at their house, then they always knew where their own children were. Pretty smart thinking on their part. Of course we didn’t know that at the time. We just knew we always felt welcome there and always had fun when we went to visit.

So many memories over so many years. Arlene was a wonderful cook and baker, something Jackie inherited from her. I learned the proper way to make a pot of tea at Jackie’s house. The British way. It was almost an art form. First you boiled the water in the kettle, and I mean boiled it until the steam rose from its spout and it was whistling. The tea pot had to be rinsed with warm water. Tea bags (or leaves) placed in the pot (never directly into a cup like at my house) and the boiling water poured over top. Then you covered the teapot with some kind of warmer, the name of which escapes me now, and left it to steep. And if you took milk in your tea, the milk was poured into your cup first, then the tea.

Ted had quite the wicked sense of humour( also inherited by Jackie) and kept us all entertained with his many stories of his submarine adventures when he was a member of the British Royal Navy. I think he loved the many parties Jackie threw in the basement almost as much as we did. There were always some leftover smuggled in beer or liquor. And smuggle it in we did, even though both Ted and Arlene were there to greet us at the door when we arrived. The liquor bottles that were snuck in he could understand. But to this day he never did figure out how Randy and Tom managed to sneak in a whole case of beer without either him or Arlene catching on. Come to think of it, I’m not sure how they managed that either.

The years marched on; we graduated, got jobs and went on with our adult lives. But I still saw Ted and Arlene over the years. Weddings, christenings, birthday parties and sometimes just because. There didn’t have to be a reason, I was always made to feel welcome in their home. Arlene always the gracious hostess, a second mother, and Ted always with his sense of humour and that mischievous glint in his eyes.

The one true joy in Ted’s life was his family. His wife, his daughters and his grandchildren. Oh how he loved them. You could see the joy in his eyes at all of their accomplishments, the pride he felt with every achievement, and the pain if any of them were hurt in any way. I know Ted is gone from this earth. But when I think of his wife Arlene, when I look at Jackie, Caitlin and Hayley, and Kathryn, Aidan and Hannah, I know he’s not really gone, he’ll live on in them forever.

Barbara M October 30th, 2011 ©