There are people we know who really are part of the fabric of our lives.
A son or daughter, a close relative, or a friend who you just can't live without…they all touch us in ways to complete our time on this earth. Yet, every now and then it's a real shocker to read the obituaries and see a name of someone you've known for a long time…not so much as a friend, even though most of them are, but someone who you have crossed paths with and casually known.
Maybe it was someone in a retail business you may have frequented through the years. Or someone who you ran into on your errands through town and something magical happens as a friendship opens up. The amazing thing is that while the friendship begins and ends there for the most part, it is a friendship every bit as strong as the ones with our close friends and family. Deloris Walters was one such friendship.
The lady I knew only as Deloris was the oldest of 8 children, born in Bristol, Va. I met her when she worked for Bel Air Opticians, then located at the corner of Main and Lee streets in Bel Air. The glasses that I had worn since I was about 6 years old were always very tight, plastic frames that gave me many a headache. The optician in Bel Air before Bel Air Opticians came along had told me that because I had such a small nose the frames and "temples" had to be tight to keep the glasses on my head.
I accepted that and the pain those glasses gave me, all through St. Margaret's and Bel Air High School, and college.
Then one day Quincy Edwards told me about a new optician in Bel Air, Earl Cross, and I might want to check his store out.
I did, and met both Earl and Deloris...and from that day on, my life and vision changed forever.
They asked me that day if I liked the music of the Beatles, and John Lennon. I said I sure did...and Deloris came out of the back room with a pair just like Lennon wore.
I was blown away. The frames they offered me were wire-rimmed, gold-filled and felt like they weren't even on my face.
No more headaches and no more little grooves along my sideburns. Deloris and I became good friends and when her daughter, Deborah, got married she asked me to shoot it.
Deborah told me a few years ago, her mom was using the chain saw to cut up limbs and sustained a severe cut on her forearm. "The surgeons who sewed it up said she could have lost her arm that day. She was 72 at the time and my brother and I managed to get the chain saw away from her to avoid a future accident. Wouldn't you know, Deloris went right out and bought another one," Deborah told me.
On Sept. 17, Dee woke up with "a horrifying headache" and Alan immediately called 911. She was taken to Upper Chesapeake Hospital and died the following day. Her family believes it could have been a severe stroke. She was not put on "life support" ... the family stating she would never want to live like that, without being active any more.
Over the years I would run into Deloris at a store, a restaurant or the doctor's office. The last time I saw her and her husband, Alan Edelstein, was at Dr. Joseph Reinhardt's office and as usual she had a lot to talk about and fill me in on. She lived near Bel Air, and yes, she operated her own chain-saw at the age of 78...but she sure didn't look or act like a 78-year-old.
There are many people we meet and like in the retail trade or in the doctor's offices where we run into one another. These are people we connect with, just for those occasions when we have an appointment. We don't see them in church, or socially, just on business terms ... and we never forget them.
She was a fun person to know and we got along great. She certainly made my vision so much better with her talents in the optical shop. She could listen with her eyes and understand.
She was the kind of person I wanted to be when it came to me dealing with my customers...I learned many lessons of service in retail from her.
I also learned the fun of practical jokes from Dee, like the time she and Earl soldered a quarter to a nail and put it into a spacer on the Main street sidewalk outside their store window.
She called me at the newspaper and said she had an idea for some fun pictures. I went over and set up my camera inside the store and caught several people, young and old, trying to pick up that quarter and failing.
It was April 1, a very special day to Dee, and me as well.
It was harmless fun, and she was surely a lady who could take it and dish it out. She was one of a kind and I'll never forget her.
She went out the way she wanted to go her daughter said in Deloris' eulogy. Days before she died she was working cleaning up the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. One lady suggested they put the chain saw in the casket with Deloris, or Dee as most folks called her. Instead roses were placed in the casket.
There are special places and special faces in our life and times. Images that don't fade with time, then one day, they are gone. The drum is banged yet again and we continue on.