Monday, October 29, 2007

Sally Pepper

Last night at about 9:15, the wife of the pastor of my church called. She asked me if I'd heard from Sally's "friend" Rob. I hadn't. Then she said, in her soft Scottish accent, "I'm afraid I've got some bad news. Sally's died."

It sort of took me by surprise. I was expecting more of a "there's been an accident" phone call. Seems she was at home with Rob and she started feeling ill and, after lying down for a bit, they went to the hospital. A little while later, she went into a coma and then she died. Brain hemorrhage. So strange. She would have been 58 on 11 June. The day before my 43rd.

Sally was the first American I met when I moved to Amsterdam. I'd been avoiding Americans, not wanting to become "one of those" expats. When I showed up at choir, someone said, "Sally's from Tennessee." Southerners with almost the same birth date, we became fast friends. (And I've since come to love and value my American expat friends.)

When I was getting into teaching, Sally helped me get a job at the college where I taught last year. In fact, she (and my friend Butch) said, "You should really think about teaching. You'd be good at it, and the hours would suit you." She's one of those people who I could sit and talk to for hours about anything, and she was very helpful. And she was right - I really enjoy teaching.

A couple of months ago, she got "frozen shoulder" in her left arm. She had to stop working and was on the mend, with the help of her physical therapist and her doctor. I rode by regularly to talk to her and visit. Her pain medication kept her pretty stoned all the time, so she couldn't do much other than read, watch tv and take the occasional walk. Last time I went over, she told me about the Hollandse Smoushond that she was going to get and I came right home and said, "I want one too." I still do, by the way.

I keep wanting to call her or go over and visit and tell her about what I just heard - that she's just died. I'm one of the rare gay men who lived in New York City for a while and didn't have tons of friends die. I've never had a close friend die. Relatives and people I sort of knew, but I've been very insulated.

Sally was so alive and active. She was at our apartment regularly for dinners. She was one of those people who's good with any group, could talk to anyone about anything. Opinionated and fun loving. I was numb last night, but this morning while I was writing to some friends to tell them the news, I broke down. Bawled like a baby.

The picture is from her travel blog when she went to China in April. It's got some very nice writing and some nice pictures.

(Man, this entry is disjointed.)

I'd bought some of my favorite yarn to knit her some gloves after she admired my green fingerless gloves a while ago. Not like having a couple of extra balls of yarn around is going to kill me, but I want to do something special with it - after the holiday knitting is over.

I miss Sally. And I'm really sad.


Tammie Nolte said...

I'm sad too Andy. Thanks for capturing Sally and the way she made you feel. Sally was just damn lovely. I'd gladly wear Sally's gloves, but I am not that deserving. Perhaps you can donate Sally's gloves to a good cause. I love the Sally's gloves project.

Thanks for sending me here. It was helpful and needed.
Tammie from Texas

Elemmaciltur said...

I'm sorry, hun.


Anonymous said...

I cried (again) Andy, reading your eulogy. We are lucky that she has been and always will be part of our lives. The hard bit is getting used to her not being here.

Knit the gloves!


Anonymous said...

Thanks Andy for creating that text about Sally - you have captured her uniqueness in a way that keeps her alive. We have all been so lucky having Sally touching our lives - she was such a positive influence on everyone she met. It's hard saying goodbye isn't it.


Deborah said...

Andy, I am hurting along with you although I'm a continent away. Thanks to you and Fred for introducing me to Sally and hosting many nights of fun and laughter with her and the 'American Women's Club'. (I will miss her fierce cornbread.)


Eric & Tony said...

My condolences for the loss of your friend. She sounds wonderful.

Anonymous said...

So sorry for you loss, Andy. I lost my Mom in June and can understand how one can feel so disconnected at a time like this. I hope you are doing well.

Mama Mojo said...

I'm sorry Andy. She was a lovely person. You were blessed with a wondeful friend. I enjoyed meeting her, and her mother, at your party several years ago.

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