This is my girlfriend Carole. We met through work. She worked for an art printing company in Syacuse, NY. I worked in a Graphics department for a company in NJ. She became our top vendor because their work was so good, and surpassed all our expectations.
Carole and I found out we had alot in common in the world of art. Both of us loved visiting art museums, and we had about the same amount of art history background. It was great for me to finally find someone with a passion for art museums and galleries. My other friends were not as empassioned about it as I was. We also shared a love for bike riding, although she also liked the rough and tumble through the woods type of biking . She saved that kind for her bike club in Syracuse.
When she was in NJ on business, we lunched together. There were many times when after her business was done with other companies, she'd meet me at a park, where we would take a healthy walk, and then settle down for a picnic of sandwiches, salads and champagne. There was always good champagne that came from the wine region in the finger lakes of New York state. It was Glenora Brut from Seneca Lake to be precise. We enjoyed the food, champagne, our friendship, and the beautiful park surroundings. It was all great.
Carole introduced me to the Seneca Lake Jazz Festival held every summer. Again, a picnic lunch, champagne and some of the best jazz music I ever heard, all in the in front of the wine vineyards with the lake in the backdrop. Just beautiful. I brought some of my other friends, who fell in love with Carole as I did, and a famous time was had by all.
The photo above was taken at the Clarke Art Institute in Williamstown, MA. It's a beautiful museum, small by the standards of the NYC museums, but not lacking in famous Artists and Sculptors. We'd picnic outside with other art history admirers, and then step inside to what was a heavenly visit to the art world. My favorite visit was a John Singer Sargeant exhibit. Oh, and then there also was the Degas exhibit as well. It was all great!
It was around that time that Carole showed me a scar on her upper back right shoulder, whereby she had surgery. It was skin cancer. She did all the things her Oncologist suggested, and we thought she licked it.
Nothing stopped Carole from being a weekend exercise warrior. In the winter she was an avid cross country skier, and in the summer she was a hiker and a woodsy bicycle rider. They, along with her husband was her passion. Let me rephrase that: her husband was her first passion. Craig supported her endeavors 100%. They also had a couple of dogs who she absolutely loved, Patty and Susie. And let's not forget a cat name Ann.
Time passed on. I left the company I worked for, and Carole lost some business in NJ due to companies bringing graphic arts in-house as opposed to using an outside vendor for business. We still kept in touch, visited NY museums, but the visits were fewer. As I became ill, Carole was also facing her cancer again, only this time with a vengence. The melanoma showed up on her abdomen, and it was a short while later it was in her brain and kidneys.
This was a woman who although she played in the sun, never laid in the sun. I would watch her slather on the sun screen, don a hat and wore cotton long sleeve t-shirts long before her diagnosis. Who would ever think that insidious melanoma would latch on to Carole. But it did.
The doctors gave her three months, and she lived a year and a half longer. I was suffering from an illness, and our communication thinned out abit, while we were both struggling with our health. How I wish I had gone to NY state to see her, although her husband told me she did not want any friends to come and see her. She wanted us to remember her in her heyday. Craig took care of Carole at home; she refused a hospital bed. She died with dignity and grace, although her husband did not have to reveal the pain and suffering she was in. I'm sure morphine was present, but nonetheless...
It is very difficult for me to accept my friend has died. I miss her voice and beautiful smiling face. Did I mention we not only went to museums in NYC and MA, but we were travelling art exhibit buddies? We travelled to Chicago a couple of times to the Art Institute and of course to take in the great sites of that city. We would take weekend passes to Philadelphia to the Art Institute for a wonderful Cezanne exhibit. She always had a bag packed and was ready to go. Her husband always supported her passions, and they also had a wonderful passion that a fortunate husband and wife could share. They were married for alittle over thirty years.
Carole was fifty seven when she passed, with still so much life in front of her. If this computer screen was paper, it would be drenched by now. I am having alot of difficulty with her passing. I miss my friend. And my heart breaks for her when I think of how she suffered before she was laid to rest. She had so much to live for. Idle time was not in Carole's vocabulary. She lived with passion.
What breaks my heart is that I lived through my illness, and she didn't. You have no idea how much I wish that skin cancer had stopped at her shoulder, and not spread. I'm sorry if my writing is very sad; it is because I am. She is probably in a better place. She let go of her pained body, and I know her spirit is around. I can feel it.