Last week we lost a really dear friend to our family. Her name was Maria Alvarez and she passed away after a long illness. She was the sweetest woman ever - I'm serious. She and her husband, Al, would literally take a bullet for anyone in my family, and I'm sure there are many other families that could say the same. I remember meeting the Alvarez family when their kids were on swim team with us. Vivian and Virginia, their two girls, were really great swimmers and beat the goggles off of me (every day of the week and twice on Sunday). We used to all carpool out to Hunting Creek pool where we would jump in and swim at the crack of dawn. The trip to the pool took a while - about 15 minutes or so, I guess, so we had a lot of time to get to know each other. I didn't know it then, because Mrs. Alvarez was just Mrs. Alvarez to a little girl, but soon came to realize how dedicated and devoted a person and friend she was.
Mrs. Alvarez, my mom, and another family friend, Mrs. Wier, would take each other out to lunch every time one of their birthdays rolled around (though they were always about four to six months behind on each other's birthdays, but they still made it happen). I love that they were always dedicated to each other like that. Their lives didn't naturally intersect but they always made time to get together and care for each other. It has been a great example to me of the need for close, old friends (not old age, mom!).
Mrs. Alvarez learned somehow (maybe it was the gawking and begging) that our family LOVED her poppyseed cake, so she would bring one over at Christmas, Easter, or anytime she knew all the kids would be descending on the Sloan house. It was seriously so moist and delicious. She always told us it was for Matt so we all had to steal some of it before Matt walked in the door to devour the rest.
When David, my brother, had cancer in high school, the Alvarez' were right there with him and us every step of the way. I can't explain it, really, but they were just always there at the right time. Mrs. Alvarez would call or stop by to visit and it literally just brightened the day. She and Mr. Alvarez would come over and start chatting and it was all she could do to pull Mr. Alvarez away - I remember her always saying, "C'mon Al, let's leave these people alone!". Of course, we never wanted them to leave because they are like family.
Over the years I have come to appreciate the love of old friends. It's like a good old pair of jeans (that you wish you could fit into!)...it just makes you feel comfy and free. That's what it was like with Mrs. Alvarez - and what it continues to be with her family.
Praying for you, Mr. Alvarez, Virginia, Vivian, and the kids. Your sweet, Gamecock lovin' mom will be missed! I can't wait to see you guys at Christmas - and get that poppyseed cake recipe so we can carry on the tradition! Love you all...