It’s been awhile since I’ve written here, I’ve been so busy between getting ready for Christmas, working on costumes for my Paso Doble and Rumba, practicing the routines, and so many other things.
First of all, I’m really happy for the New Year, last year was good in many ways, but it was also a very hard year for me in others. I had two lifelong friends of mine die last year, both around my age. One had breast cancer, she beat it, but then somehow it came back and it took her away. She was a good person and it was hard for me to understand and comprehend. Salli and I were friends through our parents. We knew each other since we were toddlers. We lived in adjoining towns, I lived in Emerson, she lived in Westwood. Salli was always so pretty and so nice and had the best laugh… not a hearty laugh, but such a feminine and pretty laugh and she was always smiling. Our family did everything with Aunt Mary and Uncle Ray and Salli (I think she spelled her name Sally with a “y” when we were young, but changed it in the 60’s). Uncle Ray was so nice and I loved visiting them. They seemed to be the perfect family. One day, Aunt Mary and Uncle Ray divorced, Salli started modeling and what a gorgeous model she was. She lived in England for awhile, then moved to South Africa, she was so worldly! I never left New Jersey, not even New Jersey, I never left Bergen County or even the Pascack Valley! I was always in awe of Salli. She came back from South Africa sometime in the 70’s and that was the last time I saw her. We reconnected with email after her mom moved to northern California to live with her. One day my friend (another lifelong friend from when I was two years old, and probably my best friend ever, Ginnie, who still lives in her house that she grew up in and still has the same phone number!) told me that she was talking to someone (she works in Westwood) in Westwood who heard that Salli was terminally ill and that there was a blog somewhere on the internet. I didn’t want to search, I didn’t want to know… but one day I private messaged her daughter to find out if her mom was ok. About a month later I received a message back from her daughter, the day that I sent the message, was the day that Salli died. It crushed me, it just couldn’t be, but it was. I had some trouble thinking about it and dealing with it, she was such a good person, so caring and she loved her family and animals.
I have another friend Nadine. Nadine was my next door neighbor (Ginnie lived in back behind the pine trees, I’m not sure they were really pine, but they were big evergreens… and I was always afraid to walk through them to Ginnie’s house, I thought the Headless Horseman was on the other side, especially when it was dark out). Nadine was a high maintenance friend, she was so good and yet had so many problems and she had a bad side to her. I was Nadine’s Maid of Honor for her first marriage, it was a quick wedding. She was beautiful, she had a pretty yellow dress with a flower headband, yes, very hippie-flower-child-like. The marriage didn’t last long and she went back home to Emerson after the annulment. Nadine and I stayed close for years, we lived together in the 70’s but then we had a very bad falling out and we stopped talking for years. Her mom and my mom were very very close and I saw her mom every so often. Then in 2004 or 2005 (I can’t remember) Nadine’s mom passed away. I contacted Nadine and we got back together again but I never saw her in person again. We talked often on the phone often. She lived in Virginia with her husband John. I knew John from the 70’s, he was her boyfriend when we lived together and John took my Abigail (my dog, a mixed breed German Shepherd) when I couldn’t keep her in my apartment anymore.
So Nadine, John and I kept in touch.. it seems that Nadine was alcoholic, it’s odd because she was not one to drink much when we were younger. She was also addicted to drugs because of so many health problems. John was also alcoholic and a drug user for the same reasons. He stopped drinking, she did not. They had a volatile relationship and I would get calls from both of them, many from John, pleading with me to help her. I couldn’t help her, I could only listen and I could only listen when she was willing to talk. Nadine loved me and I loved her, but there were demons inside of her that she couldn’t control, sometimes they would come out and she would start accusing me of things that never happened. I tried to help her, I tried to help John, but they needed much more than me. John would call me and sometimes leave lengthy voicemail message pleading for me to call Nadine, she needed a friend and I was the one to help her, she trusted me. I think that I may not have been the only one, but I think that because of the way she was, few people stayed with her. I mostly did, but there were some very tough times, and those that were close to her can understand that.
So to make a long story short… John got cancer of the throat. He ended up with a laryngectomy but it seemed that he was in remission. I think this happened around November 2012. John left me multiple voicemails and I spoke with Nadine many times. Nadine had something called Korsakoff’s Syndrome, it’s a form of dementia created by alcoholism. Nadine also had eating disorders, bulimia and anorexia which I am sure helped to contribute to the Korsakoff’s Syndrome.
John tried for years to help Nadine the best he could, but he also gave into her. She sometimes became violent, I have experienced that violence with her. Nadine should have been in a nursing home, but she wouldn’t stay. Then John got sick and he couldn’t take care of her anymore and Nadine could not take care of herself. I don’t think she had anyone close by who could help her, and even if they could, I am sure Nadine would have pushed them away, she didn’t want help. Nadine’s brother has been there to help as much as he was able to, but he lived about 7 hours driving distance from them in Northern New Jersey.
I talked to Nadine either early May or late April, John was bedridden and he had nurses coming to help. My life got busy and I called Nadine on her birthday, June 27, and she told me that John died on June 6. She was very cold and wanted to hang up, she wanted nothing to do with me and I thought it was because she was angry that I didn’t call for the past month or so… you have to know Nadine in order to understand that. She wouldn’t speak with me at all. I sent her a mass card and never heard anything. I was going to call her on my birthday, November 18, but I never got to do that. I guess it was my mistake to not follow up until sometime in early November when another friend asked me if I heard anything about Nadine dying. It took some research, but I found a relative of John’s and he gave me Nadine’s brother’s phone number. I’ve known Karl since we were young, he’s a few years younger than me, and our families were both kind of like one family, but while we lost touch over the years, we never lost the connection, we could just pick up where we left off as if we saw each other yesterday. I finally got a hold of Karl, it seems that he never found out that John died until over a month afterwards. Karl had every intention of letting me know and I do believe that, but there were so many unanswered questions about everything. Ultimately we think that Nadine just was not capable of taking care of herself and she had to leave. Now in retrospect, I think back to the phone call, and it wasn’t the mean Nadine, it was the lost Nadine, I misread her and I regret that, but I also know that there was nothing I could do to help her.
It seems that Karl found out about John’s death from John’s cousin after he saw an obituary a month or so later. And then they found out from the Sheriff of Nadine and John’s town, that Nadine was dead and the date of death was probably July 24. They found her on the floor with one of her dogs, the other animals were still alive. I don’t know details, Karl doesn’t know details, but they are trying to find them out. It’s a very sad way to die, but Nadine could not go on without John.
I miss her, it’s hard to grasp that she’s not around anymore… Even during her last few years when she struggled with her addictions and health, we would have some really fun conversations… sometimes she could let go and we would talk and laugh, and Nadine had such a laugh! It was a guffaw sort of laugh that would have anyone laughing. Other times she was insecure and she just needed a friend and then there were the bad times. I think about her almost every day, she was a driving force in my life and I knew that somehow she would always be there, but now she’s not. Nadine and John were in love with each other, sometimes they didn’t know it, they couldn’t see beyond their problems, but they really couldn’t live without each other…. Now, there is no more fighting, no more alcohol, no more sicknesses… it’s all ok for her and John, they are together and forever in peace.
This blog was not supposed to be about this, it was supposed to be about my year, about my dance, about the zoo and so many other good things, but somehow it was about Salli and Nadine, but it’s all ok, that’s the way it should be. I’ll save the rest for another day.
Happy New Year to all and thank you for listening to my thoughts.