For Couples Only

George Chapter 4: Mommies and Marrieds

Mar 21, 2011 by

Disease is not an easy subject for people to chat about. Actually they avoid it at all costs.

I always thought that after everything I had been through, I could always count on my girlfriends to lift me up when I was down. Not so, I learned that disease is kind of like divorce it separates you from certain folks. You know how divorce or a break-up causes groups of friends to feel an allegiance to the husband, wife or partner? Well guess what? Sometimes it happens when you lose someone due to death.

Here I was feeling my absolute loneliest, eating poorly, and doing everything I could to be strong. I began to see a bereavement counselor to talk to someone – no one would talk to me about it. I blamed myself because I did the whole Pagliacci thing – you know, like that song from Smokey Robinson and the Miracles “Tears of a Clown”, I kept my situation hid because for some crazy reason I was ashamed and embarrassed at my circumstance. Why I will never know, I think it began with my girlfriends…….

During the time of my courtship and engagement, George and I received several invitations to engagement parties, weddings, wedding showers, baby showers, baptisms, etc. So naturally I reached out to those women who we (George and I) supported in their relationships in an effort to have someone to talk to.  Most of them were just lovely and others were uncomfortable, it was as if what happened to me could happen to them so they did not want to interact with me or simply brushed me aside.

Allow me to provide an example – one Spring Friday evening I was invited to a potluck supper. The hostess had asked folks to call her and RSVP with what you were bringing, I was so excited to get out of the house that week that I began to plan what I would bring ahead of time. I rang the hostess the previous Sunday and left a message letting her know that I would be attending and was enthusiastic to see she and her husband’s new place and my pasta primavera would be in tow.

That Friday afternoon I took off work early to get home and prepare the noodles that I made fresh the Monday before and take the veggies that I chopped before leaving for work and begin the sauce. I began to get ready, I jumped in the shower and began to dry my hair, around 630pm the phone rang, I let it go to voicemail and as I was drying my hair I thought, I should check it just in case it was something important – the message went like this, “Hey Dorothéa! Hey Dorothéa, pick up the phone, it’s me Tahira (a girlfriend I ‘d made while working in the steamship industry for Crowley American Transport), I am still at work and I wanted to call you before you left for our place – call me before you arrive okay?”. Now the dinner party started at 8pm and it was in the Buckhead area, Tahira worked at JAS Freight Forwarding near the airport.

I thought to myself, it’s Friday she probably forgot something that I am sure I can pick up enroute. I finished getting ready packed up the car and quickly rang back. I got her Italian fiancée who said that he did not know why she called but, they did not need anything and to come over. And so I did. When I arrived it was just a tad after 8. Cars were everywhere. I had to park a good bit away and walk with a heavy pot and a big bottle of Italian wine. My favourite a Montepulciano de Abbruzzo.

As I approached their front door I did not even have the chance to knock before I was greeted by Tahira. She was so elegantly dressed in a black Anne Taylor chemise. She was the girlfriend that turned me onto Anne Taylor. She was so beautiful in her pearls that I immediately said “bellisima! You look great! ” she immediately replied quietly “Thank you.” And began to tell me that she really appreciated me coming and that she shared with her friends what had happened but that she told them NOT to ask me anything about it or George.

I explained that while I appreciated the very thoughtful gesture that I was fine and she need not worry, most people don’t even ask such things and then she responded. “Well you know I did not want it to be awkward for you and the dinner party  was mostly couples so, I might feel awkward,” and I immediately ‘responded, thanks but I am fine, really. And I was just happy to get out of the house! So I entered the house and as I did the place got very quiet, people just looked down and whispered. Each time I entered a room of their home, I got the same response. Now I felt really uncomfortable, but I wasn’t going to let it get the best of me.

As dinner was served we were all huddled over the main table trying little and big servings of all of the Italian food everyone brought and then someone’s husband leaned in and said “Dorothéa you’re a great cook!  I love your primavera. You will make some guy a lucky man one day.” I smiled and thanked him and then his wife walked over to him and asked to speak to him in the kitchen. I thought to myself ‘Nice guy, he didn’t mean any harm.’ He found me later on after he’d had a considerable amount of vino and apologized in a slurring hushed voice – I explained it was not necessary but thanked him on the kind compliment of my cooking.

Although I had sent a thank you for the kind invitation to participate in that dinner party, weeks went by and I never heard from the host or hostess.

Surely our gay friends would be different. Or would they? My gay husband H and his live-in boyfriend were having a fete that I had heard about through friends. Realizing that we had just spoken a day or two ago I thought, why didn’t he mention his Easter Brunch (Easter by the way, is my favourite holiday – called Buono Pasqua were I am from, George and I used to hold a Bunny Brunch every year at Café Diem where I handed out handmade chocolate bunnies in Milk, Dark and White chocolate), I love the idea of Spring being a time for renewal and rejuvenation)?

So, I called to ask H how things were and if he’d had any plans for Easter Sunday? His response, “Yes, so and so and I are hosting a big brunch at the house!” and I replied “Oh, I see.” And they he responded, “Listen sweetie, I would have invited you but, it is for couples-only and ….” I immediately said, “hey, no problem.” And I organized another Bunny Brunch. Just because George was gone didn’t mean that the event would die with him!

My brunch was a success! I hosted 24 people at a long table at Café Diem and as Easter Sunday came slowly to a close and the last bunny was handed out, I received many “thank-you’s” and “if George where here he’d of had a blast!” messages. I quickly learned I had to get the ball rolling on my own if I was going to ever see my friends again.

That evening I wrote a list of all of my girlfriends and then looked up their information in a little black book. I sat down at the kitchen table and began addressing envelopes and penning a letter that began a movement:

Dear Girlfriend,

I am writing to communicate that I miss you!

I understand that recent events in our lives, especially mine may be uncomfortable to talk about but, I appreciate your understanding that I want you to be in my life. We have supported one another through good and bad times, heartache and joy, joblessness and bounty and I want to continue to be there for you!

With that said, I know you are very busy person, your career, your children and husband/partner take up a great deal of time. So all I am asking for is one Saturday a quarter that I can spend time with you and get caught up on life. Even if it is just a cup of tea, I would love to see and spend time with you.

I ended it with my email address and phone numbers and  Love, Dorothéa

I mailed each and every one the following week. And to my sheer delight began receiving invitations to people’s places for brunches, lunch and coffee dates.

I thought wouldn’t it be cool if all of these great women were to meet one another? So, I started a themed pot-luck dinner where ALL OF MY GIRLFRIENDS could take part – married, single, divorced, with kids, without kids. And to this day it is still going strong! Mommies and Marrieds.

Want to join us? If you are in Atlanta the second weekend in April we will be having a wine & cheese event.  Just drop a comment and I will tell you all about it.

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About the Author

Dorothéa Bozicolona-Volpe Has Written 19 Articles For Us!

Dorothea is a senior strategic marketing executive, fluent in 4 languages, who specializes in developing new business for national and international brands via strategic partnerships and technology. She specializes in integrating social media into marketing strategies and understanding how to measure, optimize and build current new media efforts to increase value and develop strong relationships between consumers and brands
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10 Comments

  1. Dorothea,
    Ashley shared your invite with me and I’m so glad I read the link. I understand about how disease separates people. When my father was diagnosed with cancer and poured every bit of strength into trying to beat it, many of my friends disappeared. I have to admit I drove some of them away with my sadness. But when he died, people who I expected to be parked on my couch with a hug to cheer me up were gone altogether, invisible in my life. Four months later they would appear, but never mentioned my pain or the loss of my father. They say they didn’t think I wanted to talk about it. Why would I not want to talk about someone I loved so very much? The people who got me through it were the people I had come to know on Twitter…I lovingly call them my Twitter Family. That’s what they have become–the family to nurse me through the sadness that had swallowed me. I will do everything I can to attend your next event. I am not a very good cook but I will bring something to help make the event special.
    Desiree

    • Desiree – Sounds like you father was a pretty special person.

      Grief is the price we pay for love. I wrote a blog post here on that VERY topic!

      Death like illness, debt, divorce are uncomfortable topics and not everyone that you expect to be there will be there for you. The most we can do in this life is be grateful for those who reach out in the only way that they know how and support us. Sometimes this takes shape in making a covered dish, sharing a bottle of wine, listening or even a hug.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences with ATSGF!

  2. Justine

    Oooo…I want to be invited to a Mommies & Marrieds event…how tacky is it to ASK for an invitation. Well, I was taught a long time ago, by life and others, that we do not get if we do not ask. Therefore, with a humble heart and a gracious spirit, I ask to be invited to an event.
    Namaste my friend.

  3. Dorothéa,
    Every time I hear this story it makes me a little more sad inside….friendship is a lot like marriage – we love one another in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, for richer or for poorer….until death do us part. Ok, I’m getting a little dramatic, but the point is, you put yourself out there when love found you, shared it with your friends, and vice versa – and somehow, everyone seemed to forget all these basic things that brought you together in the first place. Through your words we are reminded of how fragile we are, how life changes, and how resiliant we can be. I appreciate you sharing this information with everyone. You’re a very strong woman, and I’m glad you continue to be so. You are an inspiration to everyone. Thank you.
    Marisa

  4. Theresa

    Dorothea,
    You write from the heart, using words like colors to paint a vivid picture in text. Thank you for sharing with us such a personal and intimate part of your life. I admire your strength and resolve.
    Theresa

  5. Christy C.

    Dorothéa,

    Your writing style is really appealing. I feel like we’re sitting at my dining room table, sharing a meal or a glass of wine, while you tell me your story. You are so straight-forward and yet delightfully personal. I look forward to following your posts!

    Christy

  6. June Reed

    Dorothea, your posts about George have moved me to tears more than once. I am impressed by your willingness to relive the pain of his passing and to share the depth of your feelings. I relished your description of the interaction with George’s mother. My brother was married to a Chinese girl and her mother had the same reaction to him: “Mark, we love you, you good boy, but you no Chinese!” I wish you all the best.

    (BTW, are you really opening up your Mommies and Marrieds group to all comers? Although I am not a mommy, I am married, and may want to join you. I’d appreciation more information.)

  7. Rebecca Crichton

    Dorothea,
    You are such a great model for dealing with the reality of your situation. You are right, people have an irrational fear that if something as terrbile as the death of your beloved could happen to you, it could happen to them so they try to avoide that reminder. And your generousity toward them and willingness to understand but not back away is what has made it possible to go forward. I also think it is wonderful that you have kept up the traidtions you and George enjoyed. And speaking about him and letting him be part of your life is really healthy and another reminder to people. Thanks for sharing your story with us. YOur friends are so lucky to have you in their lives.
    Rebecca

    • Rebecca,

      Thanks for the kind words. I look forward to continuing to gain your insight -very soon in fact.

      Many thanks,
      Dorothéa

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