A Friend Remembered

by Dottie Menkhaus

We all tend to live our lives never knowing how we impact and influence others around us. It isn’t until a person passes away that we realize their influence.

My mother passed away 17 years ago. After years of involving herself with volunteering and community activities—playing in the Mt. Healthy Alumni Band; bowling; being a Girl Scout leader; participating in church activities; and volunteering at my school which included the school library, the dance program, band, teaching Junior Achievement, and helping teachers in the classroom—my mother became well-known in the community. Everyone at school knew who my mom was!

When Mom became sick, she received support and well-wishes from people of all ages. So many people wanted to visit her in hospice that we appointed a friend to manage visitors so she could get some rest. After my mother passed, so many people came to her funeral that we had an overflow room. My heart exploded with gratitude at the number of people who expressed condolences that day.

Over the years many have told me how great my mom was. People shared their fond memories of her. Occasionally when I’m at the hair salon, someone will hear my name and say, “You’re Debbie’s daughter! I was in Scouts with your mom!” It warms my heart to know that Mom hasn’t been forgotten.

Recently, I received a Facebook message from a woman who was Mom’s pen pal in 1964 when they were 9 years old. Mom’s pen pal is from Sheffield, England. My mom sent her a stylized map of Cincinnati that she treasured for years on her bedroom wall. Unfortunately, they lost touch in their 20’s.

When looking through a memory book, the pen pal found my mom’s picture on the “special friends” page. She looked up my mother and found Mom’s obituary. Mom had meant so much to her that she reached out to me. She told me she was sorry to hear that she had passed away. She had been so happy to be part of my mom’s life.

Out of all the people who have told me what Mom meant to them, this pen pal touched my heart the most. It’s been more than 40 years since they last wrote each other. I had no idea that my mother’s influence stretched all the way to England!

My mother was a beautiful soul. She had a kind heart, and cared about those in her life. In 1977 Mom wrote in her diary, “Good friends are hard to find. I feel very grateful to God to have such friends. I love them all dearly, and because of these people, most all of my memories become special to me.” She valued friendship, and took time to nurture those friendships. Because of that nurturing, she is still remembered 40 years later by old friends.

My mother passed away 17 years ago, but she is immortal in the hearts and memories of all those lives she touched.

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