My friend June died this December. I met her through her son about 20 years ago now, but I was proud to call her my friend (and not just my friend’s mom.)
She was a kind of inspiration to me and somehow I thought she’d always be around. I was wrong on that last point.
I had just got in touch with her son’s wife again after a few years of lost connections. I’d sent a picture of the kids, she said “Aw” and the next message – before I could even ask after June – was that June had suddenly died that day, in her sleep. She was in her early 70’s.
I didn’t go to see her when I could have, when I was back home last. I regret that.
Since there was no prospect of me attending, I asked the funeral director to read the following at the service if the family thought it appropriate. Nobody has talked to me since, so I don’t know if it was read. But as a tribute to my friend, I’d like to share it with you.
June was a blustery old coot from way back. And damn proud of it, she’d be the first to agree. Underneath that crusty exterior, she was a truly sweet, generous soul.
I wish I could be with you all, to say my good-byes.
I thought you might want to hear one of my favourite stories about June. No doubt many of you remember this one, too, but in case you haven’t heard it:
June, many years ago, as you probably already know, had a nasty broken leg that required a screw inserted to help the bones knit together. Unfortunately, though the leg took its time healing, the screw itself started to work its way out, and, as you can imagine, that hurt a lot.
June had to be talked into seeing her doctor about it, as she wasn’t one to complain (cough) I mean to doctors. After all, it wasn’t as if anyone was going to listen, she’d say. Plus, I think she figured, given her medical background, that there wasn’t much he could do, anyways. She didn’t hold out much hope for doctors, given her experience.
Then she had to be talked into seeing the doctor again when he didn’t propose to do anything about it. And, I think, a third time.
Finally, the truth came out. She was using perfectly correct descriptive terms from her training as a nurse in Scotland: she told the doctor (repeatedly) that she was “experiencing some discomfort”.
In Canada, from any other patient, the doctor would expect what she was feeling to be described as “excruciatingly painful”, and was responding as if she had been any of those other patients. His mistake.
She was one of a kind.
June made some difficult times in my life far more bearable. She listened well, she cared deeply and I m a better person for having known her. I will always remember her with great fondness.
I will miss her.