Many of us there had a shared history, and I loved seeing all the familiar faces again. We caught up, cried, laughed and remembered all the crazy fun we had together.. two decades worth….but the thing that made Irene, Irene was the percentage of people walking through that knew her from a random encounter. She epitomized the phrase “never met a stranger” truly, every person that came in contact with this emotional powerhouse was changed and made to feel like they were just a bit more special than they might have considered.
Case in point, I go to the store…I walk down the street….I visit my kids school – and my friend count rarely changes. Irene, on the other hand, talked to everyone, and CARED. It was as if that random person in the gas station was the center of her world for that moment- or for the rest of her life as it was.
Many jokes were made about Walmart- it was not an exaggeration that she could be just running in for a pack of toilet paper – but come out with a new buddy. Two of the ladies who spoke at today’s memorial service met Irene when she approached them on a walk around her neighborhood. One was simply working out in her flower garden when Irene struck up a conversation- made a real connection, and created a deep lasting friendship. That’s the kicker, she truly connected – this was not popularity for popularity sake, she was popular because she cared. But she did not care what ‘side of the tracks’ a person came from, what they looked like, dressed like or what they were struggling with, (except to offer all the help she physically, emotionally, could.)
Like many people who care deeply, she tended to take on a lot of the emotional baggage of those around her…so it is fitting that on Tuesday she went to the park alone to sit by the waterfall she loved. We all need time to process life.
In trying to inject some tiny bit of understanding, I have to say her life needs to serve as a reminder that “A person’s a persons no matter how small!” …
Every chance encounter is an opportunity to meet someone interesting and maybe even make a lasting friend.