Thursday, April 2, 2009

A fond farewell

People come and go to the island; some temporarily and some permanently. Over the years one builds up a friendship with those "permanent" people who remain on the island full-time, at least for half of the year.  We see them weekly and enjoy social gatherings with them.  Of course, now and again, people decide to pull up stakes and leave for various reasons.  

Such was the case with Angela and Michael Cooper.

Angela and Michael came to the island some 20 years ago on a little sailboat. They liked what they saw, bought some land, built a house and stayed.  Angela was a nurse and housewife skilled in many areas.  Her husband, Michel (lovingly known as Dr. Mike), was a physician and inventor. They were of English descent with ties in Canada.  They were busy people; Angela in the garden or in the house, cooking, sewing or knitting and Dr. Mike forever inventing or creating something to make life easier and painting pictures of people, landscapes, things, etc!  

They were a lovely couple, well-liked by everyone; Angela in her ever-present hat and lovely creations she made out of second-hand clothes (she loves second hand stores) and Dr. Mike with his pipe, fine white beard and head of white hair discussing all sorts of interesting topics with everyone. Both were very learned and pleasant to be with.  They were quite private people and basically friendly and non-judgmental.

In 2006, Mike and Angela left for Canada.  They had decided, due to Mike's various illnesses, to sell the house on Guanaja and look for a home in Canada in which to reside.  They had planned on returning to tie up loose ends but upon their arrival in Canada Dr. Mike, who had experienced problems with his throat (something that had been bothering him for quite a while on the island), consulted with the doctors and learned he had throat cancer.  He underwent surgery and treatments but succumbed to the disease in February of 2008.  We were all saddened to hear of his passing which was further acerbated by the fact that we had not been able to say a "proper" farewell to either of them.  Subsequently, the only contact most of us had with Angela was through e-mails.  She established herself in Ontario in a lovely apartment close to her family where she enjoys many of the same crafts she practiced on the island.  

This year, at long last, Angela decided to make a final trip to Guanaja.  She arrived on March 27th for one week just in time for Hansito's 50th birthday.  That is where I saw her again for the first time in a couple of years.  She looked just the same; a twinkle in her eye, a beautiful smile on her face and that lovely laughter I had missed so very much.  She stayed with Kate and Bill on the northeast end of the island as their guest and it was agreed between Kate and me that I would host a ladies luncheon celebrating Angela's return.  This would give the women who knew her when she lived on the island a chance to sit and chat and discuss old times.

As it always goes, 13 people were invited; 10 arrived.  The weather was beautiful, the sky crystal clear and a lovely breeze present to blow away the bugs.  We gathered on the porch and Cathy served us a lovely platter of vegetable hors d'oeuvres with a tasty dip.  We had rum punch drinks and spent about an hour laughing and reconnecting.

My husband, who had found a small boa in the front yard earlier in the morning, decided it would be a treat to introduce "Monte" Boa to the women.  Well, the meeting was met with mixed feelings.  Many stayed to observe the snake, some left the room but all in all it made for an "interesting" addition to the party.

When we finally proceeded to the table for lunch, I surprised the ladies with an envelope at each place setting with a small crocheted rosette on the front (had to make use of my newly found  patterns on the net!).  Inside was a friendship saying. Since we were gathered here to salute an old friend, I bade each one in turn to read the saying they found in the envelope.  I presented Angela with a crocheted doily for her birthday upcoming in April.  I chose a hummingbird design to remind her of her years on the island.

We then had a toast dedicated to Angela:

Some quiet time for dreaming,
an unexpected pleasure,
moments filled with beauty ....
may you have a day to treasure. 

Kate provided a delicious salad (a sweet dressing over fresh lettuce, mango pieces, dried cranberries and red onions) which was accompanied by a slice of chicken tortilla stack and mixed vegetables (courtesy of yours truly). We had white wine with lunch and Linda treated us to a moist, rich, fresh apple cake topped with real whipped cream.

After lunch some of the women took a walk around the property to look at the new area cleared up the hill in back, some to check out my newly painted craft room, or to check out the various flowers, hummingbirds and view of the ocean. We gathered again on the porch and had a couple more hours to visit before everyone took their leave.

As their boat left the dock tears came to my eyes.  Angela was leaving us once again probably never to return to Guanaja.  I will miss her presence and her friendship.  She is a lovely, talented lady who brings joy into a room and leaves all with a catch in their throat because she is leaving.

Goodbye dear friend.  All the best to you in your life in Canada.  We will miss you and treasure the memories you have left us.

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