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Cheers for Our Dear Friend

Remembering our Kindred Spirit with a New Vintage of Rodney Strong

I wrote what follows on Friday November 25, 2011.  I’ve found over the years, that writing can be a very cathartic activity and while much of the prose I’ve created in those moments never gets read by anyone, I chose to share this one with Kindred Spirits readers because this wine was so special to Maureen and she certainly was a kindred spirit.  I don’t think she would mind the sharing.

Maureen relaxing in Michigan cabinOur dear friend Maureen passed away this morning at the way-too-young age of 59.  Though she had been ill for some weeks, Mo’s passing blind-sided Carol and me and as I write this only hours after we got the call, it still seems unreal to me.  Mo was as vibrant a person as I’ve ever met and she loved life and embraced it like few I’ve known.  The relationship we developed with her and husband Richard during our time in England goes well beyond friendship and is the most precious gift we brought back with us to the states.  We vacationed with Rich and Mo on four occasions during the 2 ½ years we lived in Langtoft and a half-dozen more times when they visited us here in Peoria after we moved back.  I think you find out how connected you are to people by spending that kind of time with them and every second Carol and I spent with Maureen over the years was special.

We opened this ’09 vintage of Maureen’s favorite California wine tonight.  I coincidently found this latest release only a few days ago and Carol and I discussed saving it to toast Mo’s recovery from her illness, something we know she would have appreciated.  Instead, we toasted her life and the times we spent with her, reminiscing with laughter and tears, joy and sadness.  

I remember Maureen’s first taste of Rodney and her description of it that evening...”Gorgeous!”  We shared subsequent vintages with her and Rich, saving them for when we could be together to taste the latest version for the first time which sometimes meant carrying a bottle to the UK with us.  I’m finding it very hard to come to grips with the fact that we’ll never share another bottle with Maureen and I wonder if we’ll continue to check the label date in every wine shop we visit from now on...I mean, what would be the point.  This beautiful cabernet will never taste the same to us I fear.

If one lives long enough, I suppose, it’s inevitable that some who are most dear to us will take their leave of us.  Mo is the first truly close friend, family member if you will, that I have lost long before their time.  It hurts in ways I can’t describe.  We have her paintings throughout our house and while they were special to us before today, they’re truly precious now.  I know that the photos from our vacations, the gifts we received over the years that we see every day and just the memories of all the evenings in the pub together will help to keep Mo’s essence alive as we move forward.    But I do wish she was here to taste this wine with us tonight...god, she would love it.  Cheers Mo, we miss you already.

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