Many years ago when I lived in northern CA, I managed a temp service, putting people to work on various assignments. Sometimes that meant answering the phones, cleaning up, interviewing temporary employees, etc., whatever needed to be done. One day the incoming lines were ringing non-stop because we had run an ad and were getting a huge response. I answered one of the lines and there was this very upbeat, vivacious voice on the other end. She said, “My name is Jeanne. Your ex-husband recommended that I call you. I just got here from New Jersey, don’t know anyone and I need a job. Can you help me?”
As it turned out, she had driven alone from New Jersey to California for a brand new start on life after surviving breast cancer. I will spare the details of all she told me during the subsequent weeks, months and years that we knew each other. Actually, we didn’t just know each other – we became the best of friends.
Back to my story … I did find a temporary job for Jeanne that turned into a permanent one, but until she got hired on at that company on a permanent basis, she stayed with me and my teenage daughter, Michele … and we were glad to have her. She was a wonderful cook, had a fabulous sense of humor, became a bright light in our lives, and she loved to grind coffee beans early in the morning so we’d have fresh coffee. That habit used to make Michele groan. “Jeanne,” she would say, “do you have to do that so early in the morning?” Jeanne’s reply was, “Yes, and it’s time to get your butt out of bed. There’s a day out there just waiting to be lived.”
We went to San Francisco quite often in those early days of our friendship just to hang out at Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, eating and drinking our way through restaurants up and down the wharf. We didn’t have much money but would find what we liked best, usually some kind of seafood, and splurge on that. Jeanne liked good wine and good food. So did I. Seafood, wine and cheesecake … we were in heaven.
Among the many things I learned from Jeanne was her belief that we get what we focus on. And that we should expect the best. One example of that was her desire to live in a house close to the Pacific Ocean. So we went to a house that was for sale, walked around it and took pictures. She asked me to snap one of her on the deck of the house looking out at the ocean. She had it developed, posted it on my refrigerator, looked at it every day and told us that she would live in that house. Within a few weeks she met a real estate agent who mentioned to her that the bank had foreclosed on a house out by the ocean and needed someone to live in it while it had some slight renovations done. I guess I don’t need to tell you about the goose bumps we had when we drove out to the house … the very same house that was on my fridge! And guess who got to live there for the next six months? Jeanne.
Fast forward to now. I learned just last week that Jeanne passed away in 2007. I had searched for her for a number of years and never found her. Her son just happened to be on Facebook, told my daughter, and now I know for sure that Jeanne is “sparkling” somewhere … everywhere.
So what does the picture of the shoes have to do with Jeanne? She loved boat shoes and when she got her first paycheck from that job I got her years ago, she bought me a pair. I fell in love with them, too, but haven’t had any in a long time until last week. There I was shopping and saw these shoes. Jeanne spoke to me. “Buy the shoes, Gina.”
Everything is synchronized … on this side of the veil as well as the other. Every time I wear these shoes now, I smile.