Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another friend lost

One of the worst things about growing old is how many friends you lose.

I started losing them with Marie in 1994. She was like my sister and to this day I think of her with fondness and a quiet laugh or two, remembering her wagging finger, her Irish laughter and her unconditional love for me. Read "A Hand Across Time" on my website: and you'll understand how much she meant (and still means!) to me.

Now comes another loss. Wendy Acrish.
Wendy was my buddy when we were in college at what was then Trenton State together, she a year ahead of me and thus the role model and big sister I never had. We were "adopted" and loved by the college's first psychologist, Doris Perry, and the three of us shared so many happy and wonderful times together! Wendy was an insecure gal, just like me, who wasn't sure of her Jewishness and didn't quite know where she fit in. Doris took us under her wing and gave us self-confidence and the strength to go on with rich lives.

In 1960, Wendy and I were recruited by the U.S. Air Force. The captain who shepherded us through the process was gorgeous and I'm sure I was as much enamored by him as by the idea of uniforms, travel and glamor. I chickened out before signing on the dotted line; Wendy didn't. She served for four years as a Personnel officer and recruiter and I'm sure many Air Force cadets owe the experience of a lifetime to her work with them.

When she left the Air Force, she married a rabbi and, after a long and illustrious career in mental health as Director of the Hudson Valley Psychiatric Hospital in New York, she realized a life dream when her one and only novel, A Time for Love, was published. It was my honor to edit and help with rewrite on that manuscript and I know Wendy was thrilled when she saw the first copy and did signings at local bookstores.

Wendy retired to Naples, Florida after having visited one time and fallen in love with the area. She sold her home in Connecticut and soaked up the sun, taking up golf and making frequent trips north to visit her growing family.

Although it's been years since I saw her or even had an e-mail or phone call, I was thinking of Wendy this morning, remembering the good times we had and just wanting to reconnect. I dashed off an e-mail that, surprisingly, came back undeliverable. So, I called her house, stunned to get a message saying the number was no longer in use. I called her son's house in New York and left a message ... how can I contact your mom? And then I put her name in my Google box and got the worst possible news. Wendy passed away in March of this year, obviously after a long and courageous battle with cancer. She died at the home of her son and left many friends to mourn her loss.

Now I am one of them. I wish I had known. I wish I'd kept better contact. I wish she could have visited again before all this happened. I wish I could have helped her work on the second novel she had in mind. I wish ... I wish a lot of things that won't happen now.

Most of all, I wish her peace.



At October 31, 2008 at 8:13 AM , Blogger JayEss said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Wendy. I really loved her. She was so funny and smart. I knew she went into the Air Force and married a rabbi, but never knew her new last name.
While sorry to her the news, at least now I know.
The thought of her brings back many memories.
Keep well.
Phyllis Piejak Lehrer


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