I am a very lucky girl. On my fortieth birthday, I spoke with my father over the telephone. At the end of our conversation, I ended our conversation with, “I love you.” He replied, “I love you, too”. It was the last thing he said to me, my dad unexpectantly died that night.
A friend of mine recently passed away. She left us without surprise. What she left was a large family and a long 97-year life of love and many friends who came and went before her, numerous still remain. Phyllis Bacalis was one of the best people I have met in the twenty-one years I have lived in Colorado and in all of my 66 years. She had a way about her. A person could not help but be swept away in her sincere charm. She was kind, generous, honest, smart. She taught me acceptance. She showed me there is a difference in what matters and what to let go of. When my heart was broken at other losses, she was there to comfort me. She knew the pain of losing a loved one, more than I could ever imagine. Many times she would lament, “I just want to go be with my Paul”. (Her husband who passed before her).
I had the distinct privilege of being an in-home caregiver to her. Everything I did for her was appreciated. Anything anyone gave to her she appreciated with great joy. I do believe she kept every single card and gift ever given to her. Anything I picked up of which had been a gift to her, Phyllis would reminisce the occasion and the person, telling me something wonderful about them. The only time she grumbled was at the squirrels in her back yard which went after the seed in the birdfeeders or a bad golfer going after their ball onto her property. They had crossed the line.
She rarely ventured into self-pity, and despite her physical pain, she complained very little. At most, she would say, “Oh, me” and then move on to another and better thought. She found reasons to appreciate life in the wildlife venturing about her property, the flowers growing in the planters, birds swooping in for seed, and just being on her back porch in the summertime meant much to her. If it seemed she didn’t understand, it was because of her impaired hearing. She was brilliant, hers was a very sharp mind. Each time I went into her home to care for her, the way she expressed her appreciation to see me won my heart over and over again. For that reason, I could not do enough for her.
Phyllis Bacalis quietly taught me many things in the ways she was Phyllis. For her, I would like to tell you to always be grateful, always find a way to express love and joy. Let the small stuff go, be kind to one another because life is much too short.
Phyllis will be missed. I went to see her just a few days before she went to be with her Paul. I’m a very lucky girl. As I turned to leave I blew her a kiss and said, “I love you,”. And she said to me, “I love you, too”.