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April 24, 2013
Jewish World Review
Relocation starts to split up the old gang
It isn't wedding bells that are breaking up that old gang of mine. But it has started to happen, just as I've been afraid it would.
Susan and her husband, Fred, are the first to defect, returning to their New England roots, in part to be near family members who need them. And I have to say I didn't see this one coming.
I thought it might be Ruth who would leave our Annapolis neighborhood first. She has talked about giving up her house and traveling with her dog.
Or Bob and Patty across the street. They are Baltimore people through and through, and I thought they would go back to their roots. Or leave for a Caribbean island. One of the two.
It might have been Ron and Betsy to go first. They have talked about moving to the woods, where he could step out his front door to hunt or fish.
Or Patsy, the widow next door. She and her husband, Jeff, watched my children grow up, but I have worried for a while that she would find her house too much trouble to manage.
But Susan and I go back a long way, to ballet classes and swim team and the time when our daughters and their friends thought all mothers were named Susan — because all the mothers they knew were.
Susan was the nervous one of us back then, fearful of all the horrible accidents that could happen to our children. I was the brave one, always reassuring her. These days, with my son at war, she has been brave for me. "Roots and wings," she tells me. "Roots and wings."
I am not happy about her departure. (Her defection?) There are no more ballet classes and no more swim meets, but she and Fred always came to my parties and to our garage on Halloween night, even after we no longer had trick-or-treaters.
"I thought we would grow old together," I told her, plaintively.
"Then we will not grow old," she said.
I could leave, too, I want to say petulantly. I have a grandson in San Diego. There is nothing to keep me from packing up and moving across the country for love of him.
But I know the truth of it, and I am not going anywhere.
I have never understood people who relocated in retirement. You mean leaving everything and everyone you know behind? You mean start over? I frankly can't imagine it, and my children forbid it.
"I don't want anybody else living in this house," says Jessie, my daughter. For years, she and Susan's Emily were inseparable.
Susan and I have been through so much together — and you have read about many of our adventures here.
Now she is leaving with the final chapters of our story unwritten. The ones where our daughters get married. The ones where we are grandmothers together. The ones where we are the old ladies, up early every morning, walking around the Naval Academy stadium and reminiscing.
One more memory before she goes.
During a dark time in my life, Susan arrived with a tiny canvas tote, with flowers painted on the front and little slips of paper inside.
She told me to take one out and read it every time I felt the clouds gathering. On each of them she had written an affirmation, such as "2nd mother to my kids," "dependable," "crock-pot queen," "wonderful laugh" and "loyal friend."
The tote still hangs on a hook in my kitchen, within easy reach, and it isn't going anywhere.
This column is for you, Susan. From a loyal friend.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Susan Reimer is a columnist for The Baltimore Sun. Comment by clicking here.
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