If you’ve lived in Murfreesboro a while you may have known my dear friend, Rosemary Sanders.
Rosemary and I were neighbors in the 1980s and we became friends when I started playing tennis in the early 1990s.
She attended First Methodist Church and made many friends while there, too.
She was also an avid tennis player and walked two miles daily.
While I initially drove by her on her rounds when I retired from working I joined her. During those walks we would work out the problems of the world.
I used to tell her that walking with her was better than going to a psychiatrist.
Rosemary was an excellent hostess and loved having parties for her tennis groups, bridge buddies and neighbors, and one Christmas she and I decided to have a party together.
It turned into an annual event which was usually held at her home.
We both loved to cook and would decide what we would each cook in advance, but by the time the party arrived we never made what we had discussed.
But it was always delicious.
I would drop things at her house on the day of those parties and always marveled at how clean and orderly her kitchen was, while mine was always a MESS.
But I later emulated her and now think of her every time I clean up between dishes.
After our very first party Rosemary's husband Jack asked : "Who was that shouting out orders, telling everybody what to do in the kitchen?" And she said: "Jeanne."
From then on he started calling me "The General" and we became fast friends.
When Jack was still alive he used to say in jest that "All girls were good for were parties and tennis,” and Rosemary and I made those words ring true.
In addition to having parties together we had fun doing everything. We both had supportive spouses, loved our families
and loved tennis, cooking and home. I would share my own troubles with her as we walked and she never judged me or looked down on me.
I imagine that she may have had similar issues, too, and always had the the perfect response.
Among the things she told me were: "If a young girl has the approval of her father early in life, she can set the
world on fire."
"Just because you're related to someone it doesn't mean you have to like them."
And when Jack passed in 1998 away she was the picture of dignity, saying only once that “You can only drape so much crepe,” although I knew her heart was broken and she would never be the same.
After a few years alone in Murfreesboro Rosemary chose to move to Florida to be closer to her daughters.
Because so many people in her area of Florida are of retirement age she misses her “younger” friends and the adjustment hasn’t always been easy, but she loves being around her family and continually has a smile on her face, a pot on the stove and shares recipes, plays bridge and make new friends.
Rosemary wanted to go to Las Vegas for her 90th birthday, and last month 15 of us went to celebrate with her.
Her daughters ensured that it was, in a word, a perfect party, though Rosemary said: “When you’re 90 it ain’t there like it once was...”
We couldn’t have told it by watching you, dear friend.
You make 90 look like the new 60, and we hope we’ll all be around together to share at least 15 more.
Many happy returns.
'Til next week.