Today I finally got the call I'd been expecting for a few months now. Since last weekend, every time my mom called, I wondered if she was calling to tell me that Fredder had died.
I'd spent a good chunk of the day with my parents yesterday. My mom called after I got home to see if I was enjoying the margarita basket (tequila, margarita salt, strawberry margarita mix, regular margarita mix, chips and salsa in a basket all wrapped up in tulle) she'd won in the church fall festival silent auction last weekend. So, when she called late this morning after I'd gotten home from the gym, I thought maybe that's why she was calling. See, at my nephew's football game last weekend she said that if Fredder made it another month, it would be a miracle.
But no. She was calling to see if I was stopping out at the house for dinner after I got my hair done tomorrow. I mean, I just spent yesterday with them and my nephew has two football games this weekend and! my cousin is running cross country at the U this weekend, so it's not like I'm not seeing the crap out of them or anything.
Then she called again this afternoon. Maybe she's calling for some other silly reason, since I'll be seeing her again in less than a week.
Nope. This was finally it. Amazingly, I didn't cry. Not even when I got off the phone. It took about a half hour for me to finally lose it. While I was drying my hair. So, my tears where going up my face and into the hair I was trying to dry (I dry my hair upside down, you see).
Fredder had cancer in the lining of his stomach. When it was diagnosed almost six years ago, we thought he had just weeks to live. But he was put on some experimental leukemia drug and he was fine for a few years. So, you know, it's good that all of his family and friends had all of those extra years with him. Eventually, though, those drugs stopped working and things looked bad. The doctors switched his meds and that gave him probably another good year. But late last year it seemed that his time was running out. The family just hoped he'd make it through Christmas. And he did. And he was having good days sometimes, even up until the end. Despite the fact that he was in so much pain, even taking a shower was too much for him.
My dad has lost his best friend. One of my best friends has lost her father. My mom's best friend has lost her husband. We've all lost a really great man. He touched a lot of lives.
There is some consolation, though. I know Fredder's family is close-knit. And I know this because I often felt like a member of their family. And I am certain that my mom and dad will take care of Fredder's widow the same way my grandparents' best friends took my grandma under their wing when my grandpa died.
Okay, I need to wrap this up here. I have a headache. My eyes are swollen and I can't breathe. I need to get back to the solace of the kitchen and my bottle of wine. What better way to be a good Irish girl and toast the memory of the man who (unwittingly) helped me get drunk for the very first time, than to spend my Sunday evening with a bottle (or two) of wine?
Goodbye, Fredder. I hope the Schmidt's in heaven is cold and plentiful.