At 20 years old, you are on a precipice of perception: you are an adult but many adults view you as a kid. In the back of your mind you worry a bit about how adults will perceive you. It was with trepidation that I met my best friend’s Mom in college. My friend George – someone I had only known a couple months, but felt like we had known each other for years – invited me to dinner. I was surprised when his truck stopped in front of my house and he was not in it – instead his mother was. The truck screeched to a halt and out popped the highest energy person I have ever met; with a hearty “Hi there,” she was literally effervescent with energy. I was reserved, wondering how the famous ‘Doctor’ would treat me – as a child or as an adult. She waved again, told me to get my ass out of the street and in the truck. I obliged, somewhat taken aback, and hopped in the passenger seat. She rolled up to the red light, looked both ways, and floored it! We screeched through the intersection, oncoming traffic be damned; up the street, fraternity boys racing for the sidewalks, we headed for home.

I was in the passenger seat, looking at this 50-ish Mom in utter disbelief. She was flying through the streets of Berkeley. “Oh, shit!” she said, stubbing out a cigarette. “Don’t tell George I did that. He’ll have a fit I am driving his truck like this.” Then she started telling a dirty joke, and believe me, OB/GYN doctors have some some raunchy ones. It was at this point I relaxed, and I knew we were going to be friends. And we were. We have been very close for the last 24 years. I am not afraid to say I am closer to her that I was her son – and I consider George to be my brother. She would have adopted me had I been under 18; I know because she told me several years later she tried.

While I had my own place at Cal Berkeley during college, I lived with them. When I graduated I visited every free weekend. Even when I moved to Arizona, every Bay Area visit during the last 10 years included a mandatory stop to visit my friend and drink mocha-java coffee and talk about whatever: the stock market, politics, sailboat racing, Scotch, gardening, her crappy neighbor, broken sewer lines, etc. The details never mattered – it was always fun. She had a phenomenal intellect and a razor sharp wit. And the food – the food – was always memorable.

My friend passed away this week from cancer. Her 5th bout in the last 11 years. She never mentioned that, as she was determined to keep all these struggles a secret. But I knew – one way and another I pieced it together. And I kept my mouth shut because I knew she would be pissed off it I let on – there is no value in embracing such things. And at any sign of pity she would have whacked me in the head before kicking me out of the house. So I called an visited as often as I could and never said a word, never acted differently. After all, life is to be enjoyed, and she lived it exactly the way she wanted to. And I’ll always remember her as that energetic, wickedly funny person person who just wanted to have fun. There will never be pity or regret, but she will be missed.

Oh, and a short summary this week.

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