Saturday, August 30, 2008

Memories of an old friend

Sadness overtook me today when I learned of the passing of my friend Bonnie (Murray) Vork.

Bonnie was my cohort in the Cleopatra eyes makup caper memorialized in my post of August 22, 2008. I learned of her cancer only a month ago. We had lost touch over time.

When I started writing Fujiyama Trays and Oshibori Towels a year ago I tried to locate her to mine her memory for stories and for corroboration of some of my stories. I googled and called Vork's listed in the phone book but wasn't able to come up with Bonnie & Bud. Then sadly, Bud's brother Jerry Vork passed away and the obituary mentioned Bonnie and Bud Vork of Hayward, Wisconsin. A memorial get-together was planned a few days later not far from my home. I decided to go, hoping Bonnie would be there. She was. I brought copies of some photographs of the two of us (and Bob Reardon) on the Stratocruiser and on layovers in Washington D.C. That started the reminiscing. I invited her to come to a retired stewardess luncheon with me. That's when she told me that she had been diagnosed with cancer in 2006 and had not been feeling well recently.

Happily we started an E-mail correspondence. I sent her excerpts from the book that involved her, and she sent me a wonderful collection of remembered events that jogged my memory. I am so grateful to have had her input. I cringe at some of the things she remembered - for instance the time I showed up for work wearing dressy beaded shoes with my uniform. (She said I had worn them the night before.) Wouldn't you know it we had a surprise check ride that day. She said she spent the entire flight trying to distract the check rider so she wouldn't notice my shoes. I wonder who looked after the passengers? Probably me in my twinkly-toed shoes. I had totally blanked that one out. And I didn't get fired, so Bonnie must have been successful. Now that's what friends are for!

We met at "Smile School," our slang for Stewardess Training, and hit it off immediately. Click on "Preview" on my Lady Skywriter web page for our graduation photo and story.

When Bonnie and I met I was dating my future husband Tom, and we fixed Bonnie up with one of Tom's friends. We told Bud that Bonnie was a really attractive, nice girl but she did have one problem. She drank too much. (Not at all true, I hasten to add, then or ever.) Tom told Bud that Bonnie would frequently excuse herself to use the ladies room so she could have a "snort" and also tipped Bud off to the shape of Bonnie's handbag - which was a leather cylinder about the size of a fifth of whiskey with a handle on top. (The handbag part is true.) Anyway, as luck would have it, we no sooner got ourselves settled at a table at a local night spot on their first date, when Bonnie asked me if I would go to the ladies room with her. Bud's eyes got big as saucers. I'm not sure just when Tom set Bud straight on this - but we had many a good laugh over it in the intervening years. And of course they married, had a wonderful family, and a good life together. I know Bud and their children will miss her terribly. I will too. Although I am sad that we didn't have the opportunity for a good old fashioned gal-pal gab fest this summer, I am so thankful that we saw each other again - exchanged a hug - and that she sent me her memories of when we flew together. Bon voyage, Bonnie! Thanks for the memories. Thanks for being my friend.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post. Anne. It's so hard to lose a good friend, but I, too, am happy for you that you two connected recently. Memories are meant to be shared.


August 31, 2008 at 3:03 PM  

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