So I went to her page and....found a post from her sister. My Facebook friend had passed away a couple of days after her last post. The sister didn't mention the cause of death, but does it matter?
The sister invited us to tell a story about Billie. I had met Billie in 2006, and I had only seen her a handful of times since. The last two times I was in Florida, we couldn't connect. But I do have a story.
Here is my Billie story. It's one I've told before and I hope you won't mind the repeat. In the original post, from 2006, I used her name and another name, and I will do so here, too.
As newlyweds, my spouse and I moved from New York State to Tampa, Florida. We lived there a little less than two years, and then left.
Since the day we left in 1976, we had never been back to Florida. In 2006, it was time to return. Florida bound we were.
We took the Auto Train down. At last, we arrived in Tampa, with our then teenaged son in tow.
I have two cousins who were born, and grew up, in Tampa. One of them, Barry, and his (now former) companion Billie decided they were going to give us a tour of Tampa so we could see how it had changed in 30 years. My son came along for the ride.
Barry and Billie drove us around Tampa. And finally, I asked Barry if he would take us back to where we had started our married life.
Of course he would.
We couldn’t believe it. A neighborhood which was once not too desirable was up and coming and most desirable. We went past what, when we lived there, was a small neighborhood mall – it was now something spanning several blocks called Hyde Park Village.
|Historic sign in Hyde Park Village, January 2020|
The two family house we lived in was still there. We didn’t recognize the street at all. It looked really nice.
We parked in front of the house. And I had to open my big mouth and say “Say, wouldn’t it be nice if we could see the apartment again?”
“Why not?” replied Billie. She marched up the stairs and knocked on the door.
She came back down. A young Hispanic man had answered her knock. And yes, we were more than welcome to come in and look around.
So we took our son up and showed him where we had started married life over 30 years before. The young man proudly showed us around the apartment. He had restored most of it but the bathroom was almost exactly how we had left it, 30 years before. We couldn't believe it.
I never would have had the nerve to knock on that door. But Billie did it for me, brushing my fears away. And my spouse, my son, and I, were richer for it.
|Flowers, Hyde Park Village, January 2020|
But right now, I can't.
RIP, Billie. You are the person who got me into serious blogging back in 2011, two years after I had started to blog, introducing me to my first blogging challenge.
Our world is poorer for your absence.