I’m still on a high from my trip to Maine last weekend. The only bad thing about the timing was that I missed a funeral on Sunday for the mother of my best friend from high school.
I became friends with Joan Freedman in eighth grade. We were opposites in many ways—she had big boobs and actual calf muscles and I was the president of the IBTC (Itty Bitty Titty Committee) with little stick legs. She had long, beautiful, thick hair that took forever to dry; mine was… you know. And whereas Joan was incredibly funny and outgoing, I was more quiet and reserved. When I saw Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey in Beaches, I immediately thought of the two of us.
Joan had an extra bed in her room just for sleepovers, and I practically lived at the Freedmans’ house, staying even on school nights. Both of Joan’s parents were so nice—and they actually got along (!)—but her mother was really extraordinary. She was so easygoing. Nothing, I mean nothing seemed to phase her.
I remember Joan and I were messing around in her house one day when her parents weren’t home. I went to look out what I thought was an open window to the back porch. Except it wasn't open. I ended up cracking both the window and my head (duh). I was kind of freaked, imagining my mother’s Jesus Christ-what-the-hell-you-doing-putting-your-head-through-the-goddamn-window response, but when Joan’s parents came home, Mrs. Freedman was more concerned about the cut on my forehead.
“Maybe I should call Steven,” she said, impressing me with her first-name familiarity with their family doctor. (I have since come to realize that’s just part of being Jewish. It also explained why Joan had a medical excuse to get out of gym for six years.)
Marilyn Freedman was one of the nicest people to walk this planet. I’m sorry I missed her funeral, but I paid a shiva visit to the family on Monday after work. It was great to see everyone and reminisce about the old days, though it’s sad to know she’s gone.
I feel guilty. One time last year when I was in town, I tried to coordinate with Joan a visit to her mother’s, but she wasn’t feeling up to it. When I got back to Vegas, I bought her a card. I never sent it.
Then one morning this past June, shortly after I arrived in Albany, I woke up from one of those dreams that’s as real as daytime. In my dream I heard a message (from who knows where) saying if I wanted to see Mrs. Freedman, I should go now. In real life I knew at that point she was in a nursing home, and in my dream I was with my sister Lori (who really didn’t know her, but you know how dreams are) at her bedside. Mrs. Freedman looked young and healthy—the way I remembered her as a teenager—and she sat upright in bed.
I woke up thinking I have got to get over to the Daughters of Sarah to see her. But you know I never made it.
I’ve been meaning to visit my almost 90-year-old ex-mother-in-law since I’ve been in town, but I haven’t made it over there, either. I suck.