Friday, January 10, 2014

Goodbye, Vera!

A friend of mine died. Vera was ninety-four and lived a full life. She passed in the home she loved, the way I'd imagined it happening, but there's still sadness and grief that I won't be able to spend more time with her and hear another one of her wonderful stories while sitting on her deck drinking tea.

If you've read my blog for a while, you might remember I spent time in Tacoma, Washington attending Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training courses at St. Patrick's in Tacoma, Washington. Vera was the woman who opened her home to me in 2006, 2007 and 2009. She provided me a place to stay, a home away from home and a friendship I'll cherish. We spent hours talking on her deck, enjoying the summer sun, and eating at various spots around town over the years. We would talk books. I gave her my larger print books. Those may have been her first Harlequins. That I can't remember. I do know we had so much fun together.

I was thinking back and remembered a blog I'd written back in August 2006:
I made it to Tacoma. Early, in fact, due to no traffic. The class was great. So great I didn't think today could get any better until I arrived at the house they'd arranged for me and another classmate to stay. It's 4 blocks from Commencement Bay in Tacoma with breathtaking views from every window. You can see planes and ships and trees and Mt. Rainier if you look East. Needless to say, it's absolutely gorgeous.

We took our host to dinner tonight to thank her for opening her home to us. As we were getting out of the car afterward, I heard cannon fire. One, two. We hurried out on the balcony. Sailing on the bay right in front of us was a pirate ship. It seemed so familiar to me. I immediately thought of the Isabella, the Spanish Galleon that I used in my book IN DEEP WATERS. All I needed was the sexy Ben Mendoza and it would have capped off a perfect day.

There was another ship that resembled a clipper ship. The two ships seemed to be having a battle. All of a sudden two more cannons were shot and smoke appeared. It was so very cool and I wished the kidlets could have been with me.

Our host pulled out the newspaper and showed me the ship on the front page. I read the caption and understood why the ship looked so familiar. It was the same ship used as the H.M.S. Interceptor in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.
Whenever I was with Vera, I never knew what might happen. We'd see pirate ships, bump into a person (usually a family member) she knew or end up in a situation that we'd talk and laugh about for years. One night we'd decided to eat dinner at a restaurant near Pt. Defiance Park, but misjudged the temperature when we took a table outside. We were huddled under blankets and shivering by the time dinner was over!

One Sunday afternoon when my family and I were on our way home from Seattle, we stopped by Vera's house for cake and tea. I wanted my family to meet her and vice versa. After we'd eaten, she brought out a LEGO chess set a visitor from Denmark had given her. She remembered that my son liked both chess and LEGOs. He was enthralled!

I  met Vera because the church happened to placed me there when they were making accommodation arrangements for our training classes. She invited me to stay there a few weeks letter when I went back for a weekend of training and the next two summers.  I can't thank St. Patrick's enough for introducing me to such a kind woman, someone I'll never forget.

RIP Vera. You will be missed, but I'm so glad you're finally with your beloved Lars.