Blessings are everywhere!  This morning I decided to ride my scooter early, before it became too hot here in Colorado.  I was amazed to find all the summer flowers already in bloom!  Everything is so beautiful and the birds are praising the early arrival of summer-like weather.

I have ridden my scooter past an acquaintance’s house frequently, but have not seen her in her yard.  The last time I saw her was in autumn, when I was still able to walk Mollie around the greater neighborhood.  I met this woman in her garden one day a couple of years ago.  We struck up an acquaintance in this casual way, talking about flowers and our dogs.  She had an old black Labrador retriever.  He was her constant companion.

About a year after we met, I saw her walking, and upon greeting her I noted that I hadn’t seen her in ages.  She was recuperating from a bout of melanoma.  She was nervous about healing, and as I walked with her, our dogs leading the way, I attempted to be as supportive as I was able; listening more than talking and exhibiting a positive attitude.  Over the ensuing months I watched her improve, both physically and emotionally.  Once again, she was tending her glorious garden and throwing balls for her dog.

About a year ago, I shared the news of my diagnosis of ALS.  At the time, the only discernible symptom was my speech.  Otherwise, physically, I appeared strong and not changed noticeably.  She was kind and saddened to hear this news.

She was extremely worried about her dog who had grown too old to run.  He could barely walk and she could not speak of him without her eyes filling with tears.  She was trying to determine if she was keeping him alive for him or for her.  He  was always nearby, still loving to be on the cool grass, surrounded by the lovely floral scents.  I felt such sympathy for both of them.

Today as I was scooting by her house, I was so pleased to find her working in her garden.  One look at me however, shocked her.  She came over and asked me how I was feeling.  I grabbed my iPad to have a conversation.  As I typed out my current situation, she patted my arm and cried.  She was very sad, and I found myself needing to comfort her, explaining that this is my journey and although I never would have pursued it, I do accept it.

She told me that her old beloved dog had passed last December and she is lost without him.  She asked if she might take Mollie on some walks.  I told her that Mollie would be thrilled, because I am unable to do more than short walks in our townhome community.  She said how much she misses long walks with her dog.  I asked about my spring flowers and how long I should leave them before cutting them down.  She offered to take care of them when they are ready.

A chance meeting.  Two older women with dogs and flowers and illness and loss in common.  These things bind us together.  A door closes, another opens.  She needs the comfort of a loving dog and Mollie needs longer walks.  My garden misses the care I gave it, but my friend will help.  Amazing.

Last night, two of my river rafting girlfriends came by to see me.  It has only been a short while since they were here, but my illness is progressing at break neck speed.  We laughed and cried together.  The courage and compassion and love of one another are cherished gifts for us.

I have been truly blessed in this life time by wonderful women.  My dear paternal grandmother, Aurora, helped me survive a mom who couldn’t help that she was inadequate.  Countless women along the way have nurtured and loved me and every single one has helped me to be whole.  My daughter Kim,  the first child I was given at only nineteen is, and always has been the most important feminine treasure.  No mother ever had a daughter to be more proud of.

 Priscilla Less, a high school friend, whom I loved with all my heart died at 26, my first deep loss after my grandmother at 15.  Another high school friend, Madge, was a wonderfully fun companion and Joy, my oldest childhood friend who loved me one day and fought with me the next, is someone I treasure still.

Elinor Avery, the speech pathologist I worked for in elementary school, my first para-professional position.  Elinor taught me so much that I needed to learn.  Marie Bogan, a friend carried in my heart from Pownal, VT to Seattle, and, of course Lisa Burgess Hodgkins, my surrogate daughter in Maine.  Lisa and I found our missing links when we found each other.  And Susan Vayda, the most feminine woman I have ever known, taught me about beauty and honesty.

Sandi Seader from the City of Longmont, a brilliant woman, younger than my daughter, but our bond has been deep for over ten years.  Long after my tenure with the City, her friendship continues to warm my heart.

Anne Chaisson, who followed me from Maine to Colorado, and gave me the comfort of a Maine friend in my new state.  It has already been almost a year since she died and I miss her every day.  Denny, Carolyn, Jannet, Jan, my Daily daughter, Andrea and my daughters-in-law Nancy, Sarah and all of my Daily women relatives.  How very blessed I am!

Each of these women has given me a priceless gift.  Cumulatively it amounts to such an abundance of love.  My cup runneth over.  Today and every day of my life, I give thanks to God for these incredible women  for being in my life.  Each of them has given me the strength and courage to face the challenge of my lifetime.  And I pray that I am worthy of all they have given me.