Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Today I am grateful for my dear friend, Jude Travlos, who passed away in her sleep a few days ago. I have probably only seen Jude in person four times in the last twenty years, yet feel very, very close to her because we shared a wicked sense of humor through words.
Back in the 60’s and 70’s I had a few friends who had boyfriends in the military. Some were stationed in Vietnam, some Korea, others stateside, but all were long distance relationships. There was no such thing as the internet or texting on a cell phone so they communicated with an occasional short-lived phone call, but mostly by mail. Letters. Snail mail. The kind you put a stamp on, so they young’uns can understand.
Since almost no one had a typewriter either, those letters were written by hand, usually in cursive, on stationery that came in different colors with pretty envelopes to match. I can almost see those of previous generations Googling their fingers off to see all of these archived antiques.
Some of those long distance relationships didn’t last. But I know of at least two that not only lasted, but are still going strong almost 50 years later. These young women planned their weddings while their guys were gone. And they were gone for years at a time. The guys came home, they got married and then went off to serve someplace else, leaving the new bride at home, usually living with mom and dad to save money for when the tour of duty was over.
At the time I thought it was crazy. How do you really know someone when all you do is write to them and get letters from them? Is that a basis for a lasting relationship? You have to share the same air with someone daily to understand them, right? Nope. I don’t believe that anymore. Because I had Jude and many others to whom I am genuinely attached through merely words.
We might not have seen each other often, but we were as connected as if she lived down the street. Himself and I stopped in to see her and her husband years ago on our way through Binghamton, NY. We saw them at parties here, sharing another mutual friend. The rest of the time we wrote.
Jude loved my Heartprints stories, even hooking me up with other friends of hers, one of whom mercifully informed me of her passing so I didn’t have to read about it later on social media. If I went back and searched I bet Jude commented on over 80% of my posts and “liked” even more. We built a bond. Indeed, after hearing the news of her death, I went back to the story I had written the day before and there it was, a comment I had not yet read, from Jude, about how she kept a little Christmas tree year-round in the family room and would be decorating it with valentines within the next few days.
She and I would commiserate in messenger about our crazy husbands, hers with a Santa Claus passion and mine with a Dungeons & Dragons obsession. We laughed and laughed and laughed. All on line. We shared clever barbs and sassy comments. All on line. We whined about weight and exercise and good recipes and WW and hair and skin and extra chins and anything else you can imagine. All on line.
One day I got a package in the mail from New York. Hmm, I thought. Who do I know in New York? Jude had loved a piece I wrote months earlier about daisies. She happened to be in a store and saw a daisy ring that was bold and beautiful just like us. She bought it and sent it to me. That’s so her, I thought. Always keeping people in her thoughts. . . in her heart. Always remembering what’s important. Friendship.
I loved that ring then, thinking about her every time I wore it. But I will cherish it even more now that she is no longer on this earth. It took me over fifty years to understand the power of long distance relationships, created and nurtured through the written word.
I loved “chatting” with Jude. I loved reading her messages. I loved her. I will always love her, because our bond was sealed long ago, in frequent, honest communication. I miss her. I will miss her tomorrow. And I will miss her every day after that. This one’s for you, Jude Travlos. BING! Heartprint!