Monday, May 16, 2011

A Moment to Pause

A cold dreary May day (I almost typed November) here in New England. The first email came from my husband, "Does this mean I'm in the Falmouth Road Race? They charged our credit card." All over facebook people were wondering the same thing - but not for long. The second email came through - "It's official!" My husband got into the Falmouth Road race from the lottery. That means I get to have fun without the fund raising although we all know I cherish the challenge of raising money for great causes. Last year Tom ran for Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts Foundation and I had only 3 weeks to raise a minimum of $350. I raised over $800 but I digress.

I was debating whether or not to book our hotel room for the weekend. Our daughter will be home and she didn't have the opportunity to see my husband run in Falmouth last year. Maybe I should wait until plans are finalized but that Voice whispered for me to call our favorite hotel in Falmouth, The Falmouth Inn.

The Voice did not prepare me for what I was about to hear. "Hello, may I please speak with Terri?" She told me that when we are making reservations to always ask for her because she would take care of us. "Um, I'm sorry but we lost Terri." Lost Terri? Like she got lost? She left? but in my heart I knew what she meant. Terri suffered a massive heart attack at the Falmouth Inn 3 weeks ago. She was on life support for 3 days and then they let her go.

I didn't know what to say. Lisa remembered us from last year. I fumbled and said that I would call back later that my booking a room seemed inconsequential right now. "No," Lisa reassured me. "We are selling out fast for that weekend." I asked how Terri's son is doing. He is the same age as our twins and Terri and I would watch each other's kids grow up. Lisa told me that he stepped up to the plate and is taking over a lot of his mother's responsibilities. He is studying hotel management in college. I saw him last year and Terri was so proud of her son. You could see the love and admiration in her eyes as they were both behind the desk at the Falmouth Inn. Lisa looked up to see what Terri had 'done' for us last year and said she would give us the same rates. As we concluded the transaction I told Lisa to please express our condolences to everyone especially Terri's son, and told her I send love and prayers.

Our relationship with the Falmouth Inn began over 16 years ago. I was friends with the members of the Sea and Surf Anglers Club. They would stay at the Falmouth Inn when they fished against the Blue Waters Anglers Club of Bermuda. (Their website hasn't been updated since 2008). We were staying at another hotel in Falmouth and went over to the Falmouth Inn to see one of our friend's from Sea and Surf. Terri was there and she invited my kids to use their pool. "Any friend of Mr. Shearer's and the Sea and Surf Anglers Club is a friend of ours," she said to me. She also gave my kids little flashlights and a few other souvenirs. The Sea and Surf Anglers Club alternated years with the Bermudians coming to Boston and the Bostonians going to Bermuda so the next year that the Bermudians were coming to Falmouth, we decided to stay there.

And so it began....whenever we went to Falmouth, we stayed at the Falmouth Inn. We would go in the dead of winter over February vacation and in the heat of summer and everything in between. I remember going down for Valentine's Day weekend one year with our family. Terri was short staffed for wait staff and the guests began helping her. That's the kind of person she was. Rather than complaining about the service or lack thereof, people just wanted to pitch in and help. We all laughed and felt like we were at home. She had this amazing energy about her. When I was fund raising for some event, I asked Terri for a gift certificate to the Falmouth Inn. Without hesitation she said yes and also suggested other places I contact on the Cape to make it a great silent auction item. Whenever anyone heard that I was a friend of Terri's, they gave without hesitation.

Last year, my husband and I stayed there in November when I was doing a poetry reading on the Cape. When she saw us, she 'chastized' me for not contacting her directly to make our reservation and 'adjusted' the rate. That would be the last time I would see her smiling face or hear her distinctive voice with a Cape Cod accent. As we left the hotel I remember saying to her that we'd see her next summer. She said call me any time you need a room. I sent her a letter reviewing the Falmouth Inn which she said they wanted to use on the website and she sent me a hand written thank you note back with her business card.

And so with tears streaming down my face I have a collage of beautiful memories cascading through my mind. Terri always making sure my kids had enough quarters for the arcade room. Having the Bostonians and Bermudians watch my kids play in the arcade. Hearing K.C. (not of the sunshine band but his nickname was Sundown) sing karaoke in the same place Julia Roberts had once sung karaoke. Terri giving us extra towels, late checkouts and making sure we had everything we needed. I can see Terri behind the desk last August when we were there for the Falmouth Road Race and we talked about the passing of so many Bostonians and Bermudians. The karaoke and the arcade room are gone. And so is Terri. Time goes on. Things change but the love lives on. It will feel strange to go to the Falmouth Inn this year and not see Terri but I know that she would want us to have a wonderful time enjoying all the festivities of the Falmouth Road Race weekend. I know that when I walk in, I will need to take a moment to pause and reflect on the absence of a dear friend and give thanks that she blessed our lives for so many years.

God bless, be well and cherish each moment
From my heart to yours with love and light,

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