Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Gift of Christmas and Wishes

A Christmas tree for Connie's Fall from Autumn

by Cherie Colombo

I remember an Autumn, a September's warm and sunny day in Santa Clara, California, 45 years ago. Anxiously awaiting for my kindergarten son of five to make his "big man walk alone" home from school. I watched the clock calculating my little five year old's couple of blocks' strategy. "That's it!" I thought, "taking too long!" As I was about to bolt out the door for rescue, the phone rang. A smiling voice on the other end saying, "don't worry, he's here, he gave my daughter a rose." I arrived at this nice lady's home. The door opened and I walked into Connie's life and a friendship that would last for decades.  
Connie K. Garcia Hoy. Our lives shared the trials and tribulations that a relationship of blessed longevity brings. She was married and had two sons and a daughter. I was married and raising my only son. Young mothers, young wives, and young lives had a lot to share in common. The swift passing years brought multiple changes. Changes in marriage, change in career. A change in location with a major move to Idaho, cultural shock in our 30's. The teen years of raising those kids, and then the death of my son in my 40's, the divorces, serious life threatening diseases, medical procedures, ageing parents, dying parents, care giving to parents, loss, and death adjustment, and us aging..... It all plays out like a fast forward movie in your mind. But, we were solid lifelines, encouraging, laughing, crying, and talking and talking our way through it all.
Connie K. Garcia Hoy, we called each other best friends, but after knowing each other for forty-five years, we merged as family somewhere along the line and I will forever see her this way. "Happy Birthday", I had said to her on September 13, 2013. We laughed that she didn't feel anything different at all! I sent her a card with sentiments relating to how much we had experienced together and that we now were in the Autumn of our years, not knowing when our winter would come.... but still looking forward to all we would share with new beginnings.

Connie had recently lost her husband Ray to Alzheimer. An intense few years of care-giving had left her recouping and searching for a new direction in life. She died four days later after her 72 birthday. An unexpected massive heart attack. Connie literally did fall on September 17, 2013, but not without a last wish to be realized. Truly, my heart and mind will miss her for the rest of my days. You just keep looking for those subtle messages that make you go, hmmmm.
Connie treaded lightly on this earth. Her love for nature and philosophy galore! Not to be confused that she wouldn't stand up for a cause if needed be, but, intelligently weighed her convictions of justice with grace of wisdom as she saw it. Her thrust was for fairness in truths revealed and although I argued she could take some things too seriously, her analytical mind remained restless. Thank God for a wonderful sense of humor and good nature that would eventually maintain her balance of goodwill, and, realize her wish in the outcome....                   

Her life was relatively quiet and content in her marriage to Ray Hoy. They settled in Nampa, ID. And Connie's love for gardening, exotic plants, and rare heirloom seeds grew. For a few years she made a business of servicing restaurant's chefs with her beautiful edible herbs and flowers. My interest in gardening was not as extensive as hers, but I learned a lot from her that shows in my own gardening skills of today.

Later in years, Ray retired and his health began to slip away. Connie still kept gardening but the grounds once maintained with both of their efforts were now out of control and overgrown. Her time, now devoted to Ray when the devastating disease of Alzheimer slowly took its toll. Her strength of handling the situation is to be revered.  

Christmas Tree. memory, spruce, City of caldwell
Spruce Tree
After the passing of Ray, Connie's determination of putting things back in order became her ominous mission. We had hour long conversations of what needed to be done for restoration. And then, a real focus occurred.  The front of her home had been obscured from view for some time due to a monster huge Spruce tree. " I am going to remove it," she said with conviction. "Oh, really? How's that going to happen?" I said with much apprehension. I could tell she had given this much thought, after all, the tree was part of the family! Being the wonderful researcher she had become, she told me she had found an interested connection for the tree and it would be donated in Ray's name as a beautiful "City Christmas Tree"!  What a tribute to Ray, what a honor, I was so excited for her. The anticipation of this event would truly be soul healing and gratification..... who knew what was to be?  Was her wish gone with her own demise?

city of caldwell, christmas tree
Tree Transportation
for the City of Caldwell
Christmas Tree Lighting
Connie was blessed in many ways through this life. The best being she had three beautiful children who grew into amazing adults! Rina, Frank and Steven. She referred to them as the jewels in her crown and I admired how she knew how to love each of them equally with all the differences of individually they presented. They all lived in distance in the pursuit of their lives. 

The devastating news would bring these three together in the most challenging ways they have ever known. I share the grief with them, but they were the ones that had to deal with the physical closure and all that must be addressed physically and mentally when these kind of life events presents itself in our lives..... I know somewhere, my dear special friend smiles and is proud. It is perfect completion of a life cycle. Her children have met all her wishes, and then some. The three came together as an awesome team! Accomplishing things together and establishing a new bond between each other that will last forever. Big Smile Here! AND, the last wish of my friend, the tree? It was removed by the fine City of Caldwell, ID. and stands tall and proudly waits for the Christmas lighting ceremony November 22, 2013 in the name of Ray and Connie Hoy. 

caldwell, spruce tree, christmas tree, connie, memory
Connie and Raymond Hoy's tree has reached its final destination.
Placed in The City of Caldwell and is now ready to be decorated!
For the Christmas Tree lighting on November 22, 2013.

MERRY CHRISTMAS my friend and to all, wishes do come true.... and new beginnings.....

This guest post contribution is written by my friend and mentor of many years.  Though 1000 miles separate us, my inspiration to write was generated by many beautiful and descriptive hand-written letters sent to me from Cherie. The three children in this story.... I was their babysitter when I was 13 ~  a fact non related (seemingly) to my friendship with the author.  ~ It's not the destination..... it's the journey ~

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