I am sharing correspondence with my high school choir teacher, Frankie Nobert. There is also a message to my friend, Amélie. Twenty years after high school, Amélie, Frankie, and I began to have annual lunches. It was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with the teacher I worshipped in high school. I will share her story and insights about life someday.
On December 12, 2002 Judy wrote:
It was so nice to receive your annual holiday card. You look great!
I’m hanging in there. It’s been an interesting year – I’m still so busy with my three children. I would love for us to have our three-some brunch with Amélie soon. Have a wonderful holiday season!
On December 11, 2002 Judy wrote:
How are you? I received Frankie’s annual card; it feels like time to make a plan. I’ve been busy with my children. It has literally been consuming me, and all my time. I’ve had some illustration assignments, but it’s been slow lately. My head has not been on my career with all that’s been going on.
Last year, all my energy went into stabilizing my oldest son. I learned everything I could about H.F.A. (High Functioning Autism), and benefited from the support of an advocate/friend. In fifth grade, things got worse – by summer, he was not doing better. I fought with the school district, because I wanted him in a less stressful and safer program for middle school. They had no placement for him, so in September I kept him home from school. I went to Due Process with my advocate and won! He now is attending a non-public school at District expense. He is picked up every morning in a taxi, and he loves going to school. He is doing very well now.
The hard part was that I never did get to relax at all. My daughter had been doing poorly in school all this time, and is exhibiting great depression and anxiety. I am currently fighting to get help for her at the school; she also has some mild dyslexia.
On top of that, my littlest child was diagnosed with ADHD (I’ve known it for a long time, and he’s severe). He is repeating Kindergarten this year and has learning disabilities, which the school refuses to acknowledge. I think they hate me at that school!
I just keep sending letters, keep going to meetings, and keep insisting on all kinds of tests for my kids. I’ve often felt an unreality about my life now – how is it possible that all of my children have these problems? It’s been like a full-time career.
I swim laps to ease my stress, and stopped eating most carbohydrates. I’ve lost about 50 pounds, which has really helped. Anyway, have a nice holiday and thank you again for your sweet gift. I sure hope life is going well for you.
On July 12, 2003, Judy wrote:
The time that I shared with you briefly, before catching up with Amélie, was very special to me. You always seem to be incredibly sensitive and I feel such a connection with you. When you shed some tears, I was overwhelmed with the emotion of feeling understood.
There is so much grieving that I am still going through. Time helps a lot, and now I’m grieving for some of my recent disappointments. I’m glad that I have the good health and energy to cope with things – it makes a huge difference.
You looked absolutely terrific – the last year you seem to be more at peace. Maybe all of your travels are giving you such great satisfaction; you look beautiful. I hope you stay well and continue to feel good. Until we meet again – I look forward to our next brunch!
On July 13, 2003, Frankie wrote:
Thank you for the beautiful message. I also feel a great connection with you; perhaps because of the losses we have both experienced. Since David’s death, I seem to be so much more sensitive to others’ situations, and I tend to shed tears more readily.
We are both so fortunate to have good health, Judy. I remind myself daily of how lucky I am, especially when I see what is happening to some of my friends. For you it is doubly important, with the challenges life has presented with your children.
Yes, I am at peace, especially now that I have made the decision to leave my church position. Doing so will give me total flexibility of schedule to “follow my bliss.” I appreciate your sensitivity in noticing my current state.
Judy, I will think about you when I am performing on July 24. I do hope the morning will go well for you.
April 20, 2006, Judy wrote:
I found some messages on a Grant High School message board that you might enjoy. Thanks for sharing your concert info – I wish I were able to get away to come. Some day! Hope all is well with you.
GRANT HIGH SCHOOL MESSAGE BOARD:
From: DAVID 1972
(1) I Loved Mrs. Nobert!
Remember Mrs. Nobert, the music teacher? I never had her as a teacher, but I knew her through some of my friends that were in Girls Glee and Choir.
She was such a kind lady. I remember sitting on the steps of the seven hundred building and being on the verge of tears. I was fifteen at the time and had just been subjected to a bunch of crap that morning from my parents and the make fun of David steering committee. Mrs. Nobert took me into her room and tried to get me to release my emotions. She said I would feel better. At that time, I was afraid to actually cry.
Boy, I’ll never forget that kindness.
Anyone care to share some memories of this kindly lady?
From: Brian 1974, Aug 3, 2004
To: DAVID 1972
(2) I Loved Mrs. Nobert! (In reply to 1)
Mrs. Nobert was the only bright spot in my senior year. I had two semesters of harmony with her and enjoyed every minute. Her class was the only one I looked forward to. She was very kind and encouraging.
From: Karen 1975, Apr 19, 2006
To: DAVID 1972
(3) I Loved Mrs. Nobert! (In reply to 1)
Hi Dave –
I still stay in touch with Mrs. Nobert, or Frankie, as we call her. I bumped into her at LAX on my way to Oakland in the Southwest Terminal, just by chance a couple of years ago. She was a great teacher and musician. She made us memorize the Carmina Burana and several Bach motets. She was quite a perfectionist.
We all had to blend our voices into one unified sound, some of us more capable at that than others!! She still concertizes on the organ all over Southern California. I just remembered one day in harmony class where we were sight reading and something Steve said or did made her laugh so hard she had to leave the room . . . the wonder years . . . so much talent from Grant.
Music made the difference for me there. Thanks for sharing this story. There was magnificent talent in many ways at that school during the wonder years, and I know I will never forget it.
On Jun 12, 2007, Judy wrote:
So nice to hear from you! I received the info for the upcoming reunion; I hope you’re still planning to go. I wish it wasn’t so expensive. Although I’m sure there will be many couples, it seems so wasteful for my husband to go – he will be left out as I catch up with everyone. And at that price, it seems silly!
Life has thrown me another curve. My mother became very ill – nothing specific, but she had excruciating back pain. The pain medications caused severe dementia, and she became child-like and demanding. It was so difficult for me to see her (and my father) suffer, and the stress of going to the hospital constantly was tremendous. After many MRI’s and scans, nothing was truly found – but because of the pain, she stopped eating.
That caused an electrolyte imbalance, which was actually the reason she was hospitalized. After being in and out of the emergency rooms and hospital five times over a period of several months, it became clear to me that my father could no longer cope. I ended up moving both of my parents in with me. It is gratifying to see that with good food, and loving care – my mom is slowly improving.
My dad also lost a lot of weight, and refers to himself as a shell of his former self.
However, as all this was happening, I began to have stomach problems. Last week I had a colonoscopy – it was more painful than I expected. Anyway, the doctor called me with the results yesterday, and said I have microscopic colitis. I am very depressed about all this, as you can imagine.
Fortunately, my children are coping and doing fairly well. My husband’s mother has been challenging for him – so he is also taken up with many additional demands. His mother is at an excellent nursing facility, and we applied there for my mom.
I am just grateful my mom didn’t have anything broken, or had cancer. I’m grateful also that nothing like that was found on my test either.
I’m glad to hear you’re performing. I hope you’re feeling healthy, and that things are going well with you.
On Jun 12, 2007, Frankie wrote:
Oh, dear Judy, what a time for you. Please take care of yourself during this enormous period of stress. You are wonderful to take in your parents, and I am sure they are grateful.
With love and concern,
Sent: Wed, Dec 2, 2009
This morning my mom was put on a respirator to help her breathe. Obviously, this is very serious. However, we were told that she’d be kept sedated and comfortable; she cannot be awake while on the respirator. It will be a few days of this, at least. We are holding out hope that she will be able to come off it.
I feel helpless and I’m trying to be positive.
On Dec 2, 2009, Frankie wrote:
I am certainly with you in thought and in spirit. A dear friend and I had a long conversation recently, because the second anniversary of my long-time male friend was last Friday. She made a comment that I have been considering a lot this week. She believes that when it is a person’s time to go, he or she will move out of this life. Perhaps that is true.
On Dec 2, 2009, Judy wrote:
Thanks, Frankie. I still have reason to be hopeful, however, because I have been so close with my mom – I’m preparing myself. I’ve always understood the time would come, but I also know how I will miss her so much. I am trying to grasp that reality, and I’m walking around like a zombie.
It’s all sad, but part of life. I’ll continue to keep you posted.
I did get a big art job, which will be quite a financial help. It will be a tough diversion, since I won’t have as much time to go to the hospital. I hope I can pull it off.
I always appreciate your kind words. When I hear the holiday music, I have such fond memories of choir and caroling. I hope you have a nice holiday.
On Dec 2, 2009, Frankie wrote:
Art can be healing, which I hope will be the case for you during this very difficult time. You are on my mind a lot, especially because my mother was ill for so long.
Much love and lots of hugs, Frankie
I didn’t know about your mother, Frankie. Maybe that’s why I can feel such compassion in your messages. It’s probably the hardest thing to love someone, and bear their illness. I can hardly imagine how it is done over a longer period of time. I can see how wearing and exhausting it is. I know my mom wouldn’t want me to fall apart, and I can’t afford to.
It does help to reach out. Email is definitely helpful for me to stay connected. Thank you for all your kind, supportive messages. One day we will talk; you can share with me what you went through with your mother.
My mom died in 1983 after a twenty-year battle with cancer. The last year or so was very difficult. I wish I had lived closer to be of more help, but at least I spent the last Christmas with her before her death at the end of January. Even though such losses are part of life, they are very painful, as you know.
Do you have any good friends who live close to you and can give you support? Just to be with one of them can help you keep some kind of perspective. Also, as caretaker, you need to be careful about your own health.
Much love, Frankie
On Dec 18, 2009, Judy wrote:
Thanks, Frankie. Today was rough. My mom’s teeth were clenched in a grimace, and her eyes had a far-away look. I am really trying to prepare myself.
I am in the limbo hell, and you’re right that I need to watch my own health. I have a wonderful woman that helps me – she does hypnotherapy. I feel like she’s a friend, as well. It has truly made a difference for me.
As always, your messages buoy me.
On Jan 17, 2010, Frankie wrote:
My brother and his wife hired a wonderful sitter for my mother when she was in the home (Jewish, actually). It was a godsend and helped her spirits enormously. It is very important to have a constant advocate for someone in your mother’s condition, if it is feasible. As another friend said, you do need to think about your own mental and physical health.
Thanks for keeping me posted.
On January 26, 2010, Frankie wrote:
I have been reading these exchanges with your amazing support group and have marveled at their insights and your resilience. May the sun shine brightly on your life in the coming days after all the stormy times from the sky and from your surroundings.
With much love, Frankie
On January 26, 2010, Judy wrote:
Your insight and resilience has been coming my way with your daily emails. You don’t even write more than a sentence. Yet, I feel so much – even with your added graphics you are showing me how much you care. The resilience coming my way is really you looking in a mirror! I will never forget the lunch we first had when we reconnected after so many years. As my favorite high school choir teacher, where I had my most favorite high school memories – I was honored to see you again twenty years later.
I remember it was a few years later, and you were grieving David. I didn’t know anything about your personal life. You were eager to accept all my Compassionate Friends literature to read. It didn’t matter that David wasn’t a child. Grief is horrible, and we became forever bonded after that. I understand so much now. I even understand that there are different forms of grief, like the pain I felt when my children were diagnosed. It doesn’t matter what the reason is – it sure helps to have human support and understanding. I even feel sadness inside for you, with the loss of your beloved kitty, Cuddles recently.
Sometimes, clichés are true – time does heal. But not for everyone, and we are forever changed. I mourned the changes I went through because of grief, but those changes have allowed me to be a deeper and more compassionate person to others. I hope.
Looking forward to our annual lunch soon with Amélie. After all, she missed our last lunch because of her sister’s death a few days before. We will have a lot of catching up to do.
On January 26, 2010, Frankie wrote:
Your reply is very beautiful. Thank you. I vividly recall our sharing the grief after your loss and then mine. I have always felt a special bond with you since that time.
May you have a chance to recover from the latest traumas with your mom and her lack of care.
On Feb 1, 2010, Frankie wrote:
Yes, you are absolutely right that our lives have been enriched and deepened by all of our experiences. I definitely believe in positive thinking, even though it can be a challenge sometimes.
Have fun with the guitar!
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