I heard screaming from the basement. Moms have a “scream gauge.” We know when the scream is a benign scream (472 times in a day) or when it is a “drop everything and run” scream. In my panic and rush to get to them, I fell down the last few steps. (Always graceful under fire!) I landed in water. Water was rushing through the window, the children were standing on furniture, and all I could muster was, “But, we never get water in the basement,” as if my proclamation took care of everything. But, my daughter knew what to do- “CALL DONNA!”
Donna was our neighbor and we all knew that she could fix anything. And, she did. She showed up with her shop-vac and started giving orders. Within a few minutes, she had us all calmed down and the situation under control. “You need new gutters on the front of your house.” She had all the answers.
Our life on Ridgeway Avenue included so many Donna moments. She was my friend. She was a surrogate grandmother to my kiddos.
When I brought my babies home, she was the first to bring a casserole.
When I was overwhelmed or certain that I must be the worst parent on the planet, she would make a cup of tea and tell me stories. By the end of her stories, I was calm and reassured that I could, indeed, do this.
When it was grandparents day at school, she showed up with treats not just for my children, but also for their friends.
When there was a lemonade stand on Ridgeway Avenue, she was our best customer.
When my children were interested in nature, she walked them through her yard, patiently explaining the science behind each new discovery. Afterward, they would sit on her back porch and have long talks.
When it was Halloween, she would have special FULL SIZED treats for my gang.
When she fell off a ladder, she bounced up and brushed off our worries. “I’ve taken a lot harder falls than that!” She was badass.
When she became sick and knew that an ambulance was being called, she sent someone to update us. She didn’t want us to be upset when we saw the ambulance.
When the time came to move in with her daughter, we braced for life on Ridgeway Avenue without Donna. We didn’t know when the final day would be. It came and went without any fanfare. We didn’t know until the kids knocked on her door and there was no answer. This had happened many times before, but we could usually find her in her back yard or on her back porch. Not that day. She had moved out without any fuss. It was her style- no fuss, no muss, no drawing attention to herself.
Yesterday, we were in the grocery store when all hell seemed to break loose. Someone shouted, “IT’S DONNA!” Some of us saw her and some of us were just following the mob toward the promise of Donna. To say we ambushed her would be an understatement.
I watched as my now 6’2″ son bent to hug her, my girls threw themselves into her familiar embrace, and Donna’s daughter wiped tears from her eyes.
I hope she saw it in our eyes. I hope she heard it in our words. I hope she felt it in our hugs. We miss you. We love you. Thank you for making our lives on Ridgeway Avenue so magical.