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Remembering Paula

Author:

Peggy Cole is a self-published author who enjoys writing fiction stories, book reviews and articles about simpler times.

On the Beach

From the balcony of her timeshare

From the balcony of her timeshare

Good Times

We met in 1976 at a hair salon where we both worked and discovered we'd both attended the same beauty school. When she turned twenty-one, she and a group of stylists left for a new salon. We lost touch until a couple of years later, when I took a job there, too. Standing behind a styling chair next to each other day after day, our friendship deepened.

I moved to Texas, back to Florida, then back to Dallas. Paula's birthday present from her mom in 1982 was a plane ticket to Dallas. My boss owned a 300-acre horse ranch and we toured her enormous house on the property before going to Southfork Ranch and the Gold Twin Towers. Then we drove to Oklahoma to see a real oil rig. We felt like Thelma and Louise on a road trip.

Through the Years

She was the kind of friend that made you comfortable just being yourself. While visiting each other we watched TV or read novels sometimes not talking for hours. There was never pressure to do stuff or to go anywhere. We could just be there for each other.

Over the years our lives seemed to run parallel. We both earned our real estate licenses and moved into corporate jobs. We both became instant mothers to five-year old stepsons. We both felt the heartbreak of failed marriages. The eighties were turbulent, but we still had each other.

In 1988, we shared our first vacation at her timeshare on the Gulf Coast. It was close to the beach, had a heated pool, lounge chairs and all the shells we cared to collect. We grilled out with a spectacular view of the sunset before staying up most of the night watching rented movies. We made so much noise, the people in the next unit banged on the wall for us to shut up. Ah, good times.

Year after year she'd invite me to join her during timeshare week. There were rare years when I couldn't go but nearly every year we went come hurricanes or rain, sunshine or seaweed.

Beach Time

The third week every September was our time together with days of beach combing, collecting shells, baking in the sun and swimming in the pool. We'd pack up with sadness at the end of the week and drive back to her house where her shells would go into the garden. Our last night together would be reruns of Star Trek and dreading my early morning flight back home.

I'd call to let her know I got home safely and she would tell me she'd cried all the way from the airport to the house. She felt things deeply and wasn't afraid to show her emotions.

That's What Friends are For

Visiting Tampa

When I would fly into Tampa International, she was always there to pick me up at baggage claim. We did tourist things visiting Universal Studios and Sea World. Busch Gardens was only a few blocks from her house. We could hear the screams from roller coaster riders and see them as they peaked the high point of the ride.

We ate many meals at the Village Inn over the years. We loved Houlihan's, Friday's, and Café Pepe where we enjoyed sangria and paella with homemade brown bread. We shopped the thrift stores for bargains and items to sell in my antique store. And we drove around the neighborhood where parrots would roost in the trees near her house. We always made a run past my old house that was only a few blocks from hers.


Sharing Parents

When I visited my dad in Winter Park, she would drive across the state and join me at his house for dinner sharing tales of her adventures of killing Cane frogs that invaded her back yard. Their poisonous secretions endangered her dogs and she would do anything to protect them. Her reenactments of stunning them with a shovel and hurling them over the fence kept us all entertained. Poor froggy.

Her dad was not part of her life so she felt strongly attached to mine. She was like a sister to me. When he passed away, I spent the next few days at her house, going to work with her and making the drive to his funeral together.

The flight home.

The flight home.

A Good Listener

She was a friend that remembered to call on birthdays, holidays and in between, always asking if it was a good time to talk and sharing the latest while listening attentively.

She had an incredible recall of my family's history, the names of aunts and cousins, the ups and downs of my job. Over the years our roles expanded to caregivers for our aging mothers and their live-in partners. We shared the joys and pain of those duties.

Voice Mail Tag

In May of 2017, I'd left a couple of voice mail messages and hadn't heard back. She usually returned calls within a couple of days. When she finally called, her voice was hoarse and strained. She apologized for the delay confiding she'd spent the past 10 days in the hospital. They'd run a battery of tests and she had been waiting for results.

Nothing could have prepared me for what she said. It wasn't good news. The tests showed she had pancreatic cancer. I wanted to go see her immediately but she wanted me to wait until she started chemotherapy. By then, her 83 year old mother would need a break.

There were delays in treatment and changes of medical facilities due to scheduling issues. The end of June I flew to Tampa despite her protests. Paula was growing weaker. I could tell. She was unable to eat more than a few bites of food. She'd have terrible gastric reactions when she did.

I wasn't prepared to find her looking so frail. Skeletal by her own description.

Starvation Diet

I'll never forget her comment, "Don't think the irony of this disease is lost on me. All my life I've struggled to lose weight and now I'm dying of starvation."

My friend was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. After weeks of not eating, she was too weak to take the chemotherapy. But she was resilient and still hoped to beat this disease. She wanted to travel and visit places she'd never seen.

Right to the last, she was grateful for even the small comforts and blessings of life. She had loving friends who considered her as a sister, the affection of her beloved dogs and a mother who loved her dearly.

1995 Paula's fur babies Chloe and Aramis

1995 Paula's fur babies Chloe and Aramis

Rainbow Bridge

She passed away in July, just two short months after her diagnosis. I find myself reaching for the phone to call her, even now and still dream of us sharing a meal or sitting in her living room with the dogs, the cats and her cockatiel.

She loved Jesus and I hope she's had a chance to meet Him and reunite with her pets that have crossed the rainbow bridge: Chevas, Aramis, Nevy, Spunky, Chloe, Zoey, Hansel, Gretel, Dakota and TC Wilson.

Paula is gone but not forgotten. She lives on in my memories.

© 2021 Peg Cole

Comments

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on March 07, 2021:

Thank you, Greg. She was truly a special person. I appreciate you taking time to come by and check out her story.

greg cain from Idaho, USA on March 05, 2021:

Peg - thanks for sharing this touching story with us. Dear, special friends are something we should all have...I’m sorry Paula is gone but I’m happy that you had that special kind of relationship for so many years.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on March 05, 2021:

Hello Ann, It truly is a rare thing to find a friend that lets you be yourself, comfortable talking or with total silence. Among the things that I miss most about Paula is our hour-long conversations on the phone. We could talk about everything and anything. She was easy to talk to and easy to love.

Thank you so much for coming by and for the words of comfort.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on March 05, 2021:

Flourish, Thank you for the kind words about Paula. ♥

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on March 04, 2021:

Chitrangada,

You are so kind to look at these photos and to read the story about my friend. I hope I have done her memory justice in writing down what came to mind as I looked through old pictures. I still remember her as if we were together yesterday. But you are right. Life is never the same again.

Blessings to you and thank you so much for coming by.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on March 04, 2021:

Linda, Thank you and I'm glad, too. She was one of a kind.

Ann Carr from SW England on March 04, 2021:

This is such a lovely tribute to your long-time friend Paula. How good it is to know someone with whom you can feel at ease and 'in tune'. At least she didn't suffer long, though it's a great shock when someone goes so suddenly. You have done her justice with these beautiful memories and you have those for the rest of your life. Even though it leaves a whole in one's life, you can share a smile when you think of her. You have some wonderful photos too.

Ann

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 04, 2021:

I'm so sorry for the loss of your dear friend. Your touching tribute demonstrates how much you truly cared for her. RIP Paula.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on March 03, 2021:

A heart touching tribute to your dear friend Paula. It’s pure good fortune, to have a friend like her in your life.

You have described her so well in your beautiful writing, that she must be smiling, wherever she is.

Beautiful pictures and wonderful precious memories. When someone is gone, a part of is also gone. And, the life doesn’t seem to be the same. It changes forever.

Thank you for sharing this beautiful memoir with us. Take care.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 03, 2021:

I’m so sorry for your loss, Peg. Paula sounds like a wonderful friend. I’m glad that you knew each other.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on March 03, 2021:

Peggy, what a sweet thing to say! I wish you could have known Paula. She loved cowboys and horses and had the most enchanting laugh. I'm comforted in the knowledge that we will all meet in person one bright sunshiny day. Thanks for coming by, friend. ♥

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on March 03, 2021:

Hello dear Dora, I'm happy to have shared so many years with this wonderful friend. You know, it will truly take an eternity to reacquaint with all our loved ones and those who await us. Thanks so much for the reminder of the promises of Heaven. ♥ "There'll be no sadness, no sorrows, no troubles I pray. . .Peace in the valley, someday."

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 03, 2021:

Hi Peg,

I almost felt as though I knew Paula through your descriptions. I am so happy that you shared that long and special friendship, and I am sorry for the loss of your dear friend.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on March 03, 2021:

Hello Gyanendra Mocktan, So nice of you to come by and take a look at this article. Thank you for the lovely prayer. May you also be blessed.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 03, 2021:

Peg, I'm sincerely sorry for your loss, but also happy that you have such beautiful memories to cherish. Thanks for sharing the joy of your lives together and may you share again in eternity where there'll be no sickness and no separation. Be comforted and encouraged!

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on March 03, 2021:

Hello Shauna, You and Paula would have been fast friends. She was loving and warm and kind (like you) and I do feel very fortunate to have known her. I'm glad you can see the beauty of her smile. It was among her best features. Thanks so much for dropping by and for the thoughtful comment. ♥

gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on March 03, 2021:

This is a heart breaking story. I pray that God sheds you Infinite light and power.

Peg,thank you for sharing your life story

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on March 03, 2021:

Peg, this is a beautiful tribute to your dear friend. I've grown to love her by way of this share. You're fortunate to have had such a close friend for so many years. You'll always have that.

I'm so sorry Paula suffered. She seems like such a vibrant person. Her smile is infectious.

God bless you both, Peg.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on March 03, 2021:

Hello Pamela, So nice to see you here. And thank you for the kind words. When I saw your article on pancreatic cancer I was naturally drawn to read it. It is an awful disease and the symptoms are sometimes misdiagnosed. My brother has a friend who had successful treatment. If only my friend had known earlier, things might have been different. Again, thank you for coming by and for your sweet message.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on March 03, 2021:

Hello Linda, Thank you for the kind words of comfort. I know that Paula would have loved your articles and recipes. She had an immense collection of cookbooks that she treasured and she was a gifted cook, too. Your comments mean a lot to me. Thanks again. ♥

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on March 03, 2021:

Thanks, McKenna. I'm glad you stopped by. I'm eager to read your article on absent fathers. I know this affected my friend deeply, in particular, when she tried to rekindle the relationship without success.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on March 03, 2021:

Sallybea, thank you so much. Paula was well loved by many.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on March 03, 2021:

Bill, Thank you. I'm so sorry to hear of your friend's passing. Yes, it is painful. We're never the same again after we lose a loved one. I count my blessings to have known someone as wonderful as her and to have her call me her friend and sister. Thanks for coming by. ♥

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 03, 2021:

Blessings to you and to her. It is rare to have such a friend, and painful to lose them. I lost mine a little over a year ago and each day I think about him and want to call him. :) We were lucky to have such friends.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on March 03, 2021:

Lovely tribute for a much loved friend. My heart goes out to you and to all those who loved her.

McKenna Meyers on March 03, 2021:

What a beautiful tribute to your friend and the wonderful memories that you shared through the years!

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on March 03, 2021:

Oh Peg, this is so sweet and full of love. It's often said that we can't choose our family, but we can choose our friends and those bonds are closer than blood. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I hope that talking about her brings you a sense of peace. Treasure those memories.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 03, 2021:

Peg, this is a sweet but very hearbreaking story of friendship. Paula sounds like a wonderful friend ands that is a horrible diagnoses. I know you are still heartbroken to lost a friend like her. I am glad you were able to write about this experience as it is so bittersweet.

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