Parting Advice From Jill. #Friendship Friday

In August a dear friend and neighbour passed very suddenly.  Jill* went out to a social gathering and never came home.  There was no long drawn out illness as with my own grandmother...No good-byes or farewells.  My husband has lived in this apartment building since 1994, I moved in April 1999, and Jill was here before that.  She was a friend and advisor to MANY, and we always knew where she stood on any issue.  I have been remembering snippets of conversations from the last 13 years and wanted to share a few today.

"Rules apply to everyone. When you start to believe that some rules don't apply to YOU then you no longer belong in that group."

My very first encounter with Jill took place a few weeks after I moved into my husband's apartment.  We were newly weds and newly graduated from college.  A few friends showed up to give us a couch.  This was a pleasant surprise considering we only had a bed, three dining room chairs, rickety table, and a 1970's TV sitting on the floor (BTW-We still have this TV).  My friends had pulled up to the front entrance of our building, and I met them there, to hold the doors for them.  As we were wrestling the couch through the doors.  Jill who was pulling weeds in the garden, ran over to block our entry.

Jill: You can't bring that in here!
Jill: You need to book the service elevator. No moving in through the main entrance.
Me: I'm not moving in today, I've been here nearly 2 months.  My friends surprised us with a couch because we didn't have one.
Jill: Who is "us"? Who did you move in with?
(Meanwhile we are still holding this heavy couch that also happens to have a queen size sofa bed in it.)
Me: (Squirming from embarrassment and crumbling from the weight.) I married Al Jr. and we moved into the second floor.
Jill: (Her countenance softened a little.) Ooooh, You're the new Mrs. Dell? Your husband should know better...Next time you have a delivery make sure to book the service elevator. (Walks away.)

I was left irritated and embarrassed that this encounter had clouded my friends' good deed.  It was quite a while before I spoke to Jill again.  Later on, Jill explained to me that the "No moving through he main doors" rule came about because someone drove a trolley (loaded with a dishwasher) through the glass doors.  She was a valued Board Member representing the tenants of our building.  During a General Meeting she admonished us all-  "Rules apply to everyone. When you start to believe that some rules don't apply to YOU then you no longer belong in that group.  Whether it's an apartment building, a job, a family, or a church. Policies and rules aren't made to just boss people around, they have a purpose and unify a group."  I learned that there have been quite a few tenants that didn't respect the policies outlined by our superintendent. Tenants that don't respect rules often don't have pride in or take care of the building, resulting in property damage or even security issues.

"Never apologize for the baby."

After 10 years of quiet living, we brought our daughter home. That baby has cried so much in 2 years that I am afraid people would call children's aid on us.  One particular day as we were trying to get from the parking garage to our apartment, six month old Princess Destructo was exercising her lungs in full wail.   We met Jill in the elevator and I apologized for the screaming we had to endure for the short ride.

Me: Sorry, she's in fine form today. I should hand ear plugs out to our neighbours. I'm so sorry...
Jill: (Stern tone) Are you pinching her?
Me: Um, no...
Jill: Never apologize for the baby. If God didn't want her to scream, they would be born talking. So scream away kiddo.

I was left chastised again, but had developed a great respect for Jill so wasn't upset with her. I reflect on this encounter now, and know that my focus shouldn't always be about how people perceive me as a mother.  Also I have resolved to stop beating myself up.  I love this little girl but won't always be able to make her happy.  Life isn't easy, tears are going to scream away kiddo.

"Life goes by in a blink. Don't wish away your days."

I saw Jill the day before she slipped away from us.  We hadn't seen her more than twice this summer so she was shocked to see how big Princess Destructo had gotten.  I told Jill that her second birthday was 6 days away and had grown 2 inches that month.  I lamented needing to buy all new summer clothes with the summer nearly done.

Me: What a waste of money. I'm looking forward to the days when we buy shoes and clothes and have them last more than a few weeks.
Jill: (Bends down to talk to little girl in her proper British accent.) You tell your mummy that all too soon you'll be a big girl and buying your own clothes, because she couldn't possibly know what is cool.  (Stands up to talk to me with a kind tone.) Life goes by in a blink. Don't wish away your days.  She is precious, burn these special days into your memory.  Soon you'll be as old as me and wishing to re-live the terrible two's with your kiddo's.

I had no way of knowing that was the last neighbourly chat we would ever have. I miss her and am grateful to have had the privilege of learning from her wisdom.  Jill, I know you are one of the lead gardeners in Heaven, and ringing the church bells for all to hear.

*Name was changed for privacy.

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