In her Pearls of Wisdom blog, Joan Blumenfeld recently revealed that she’d been diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer and had opted for palliative care rather than treatment to fight the disease.
I felt that twisty thing in my gut and heart and immediately picked up the phone to call her. Getting only her answering machine, I left a message telling her how much knowing her had meant to me.
Then yesterday, I received her obituary in my inbox.
When I made the decision in 2010 to leave my house in Norwalk and move to an apartment nearby, my accountant heard the address where I would re-locate and said, “You must meet Joan. She’s also a client of mine,” and promptly gave me her number.
“Come over tonight!” Joan encouraged me even though I wasn’t moving to my new space for another several weeks. “There’s a pool party, and I’ll introduce you to everyone.” I arrived 30 minutes early, per Joan’s specific instructions, so she could show me the ropes. Then we went to the pool and courtyard area where she introduced me to pretty much everyone there.
“Oh, you know the Mayor,” people joked as they extended their hands in welcome.
After moving in, Joan and I got together at least monthly for a pot luck dinner with one or two other single women in the complex. We occasionally dined out and passed each other frequently on the property as Joan walked her adorable pup Bromley several times a day. She was always there.
Still entrepreneurial in her late 70’s and beyond, Joan was a member of the BNI group in Darien, the Dynamos I think they were called. She advocated for me to become a member when their current coach was moving away. She had my back.
I received a treasured invitation to her 80th birthday party which was totally choreographed, and I choose that word with care. She had been taking ballroom dancing locally and invited two of the most attractive instructors to her event and tasked them each with asking all the single women to dance. Dancing is not my strong suit, but when so well led, I felt graceful and had fun.
During our birthday toast to Joan, she said a few words. What I most remember, and what Joan was most memorable for, was her still taking dance lessons including ballet. Her advice to the loving friends and family gathered: “Keep moving!”
Since I’ve been in NYC for nearly five years now and have lost contact with our mutual friends, I couldn’t think of one person from my 597 Westport Avenue apartment days to share my sadness over Joan’s passing. Which is why I’m sharing these thoughts with you.
We all know the expression that people are in our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Joan was there for my season of recovery from my marriage’s end. She had been there herself and was a role model of resilience. I’m very sad that she’s now gone, but am grateful that I got to know her when I did.