Sunday, August 6, 2017

94 Years Remembered in 94 Days-Post 59 (Old Friendships/Letter from Jim Riley)

We have received so many nice cards since Teresa's death.  So many have been from old family friends.  Growing up so much of what we did was tied into St. Luke's/Loretto School and Beta Sigma Phi.    A family from St. Luke's/Loretto were the Stephens.  Ginny and I reconnected through my blog when I was in Douglas.   She also sent a beautiful card.

Plus my mom and Teresa growing up there meant that they had generational friends.    So many of my friends were the children of their friends.

I couldn't begin to name all of the family friends we had and still have.    My  mom's best friend from kindergarten till their deaths was Lolita Soto Johnston.  I remember the day that Lolita died.  It was in July before my mom died in 2002.   I had to go over to the group home to tell her.   It was so hard, but fortunately, she probably didn't totally comprehend it.  Not that she had dementia, but the stroke she had made things difficult.

Lolita had three sisters and I have such fond memories of growing up with them.   Lolita's husband was a career air force officer and so they were back and forth between Douglas and where he was stationed.   Her younger sister, Guerra, was a great friend of my mom's too.   I remember summers when Guerra and her family came to Douglas from California.    At that time, you could bring a gallon of alcohol per person  across the line.  We would all get into the back of Johnny's pick up (all of us kids) and we would go over to Agua Prieta and the would get all the gallons for the year with all of us kids.    

In later life, both Lolita and Guerra moved back to Douglas to retire.  Mote Riley always lived there.     Her son, Jim, and I were good friends for our whole lives and still are.  When I first moved to Douglas, we went to visit Mote a lot.  Teresa would take her communion.   She suffered from Alzheimers' and didn't always know me, but she always seemed to know Teresa.    I also loved their grandmother, Mama Lola.   She was a sweetheart and she lived in Douglas.  I think she was a surrogate grandma to me after our grandma died in 1957.

Jim was a superior court judge in Cochise County and my mom was instrumental in his campaign.  In Arizona, all of the smaller counties actually have people running for judge.  Pima and Maricopa become a yes or no vote.  

Today I got the most beautiful card from  him.  He asked me to share it with Judy, which I will do.  What the card says was great, but what he wrote made me cry.   It is absolutely beautiful.

Here is what Jim wrote and it touched my heart so much.

August 26, 2017

Dear Sheila,

I don't have Judy's address, so could you please share this card with her and her family?

I  spoke with Craig Emanuel when he was in Bisbee a few days ago.  When he told me that Teresa's funeral had been the previous weekend, I was surprised and saddened.  I wish I had known, I would have definitely been there.

Teresa was truly a significant person in the lives of so many people, including mine.  Everyone in Douglas knew and respected her.   One of my fondest memories of Teresa was her having lunch with me and my Mom on the Sundays she was in town for the last couple of years of Mom's life.    She wold come over to the house after Mass and we wold have lunch and laugh and talk for a couple of hours.  In spite of Mom's dementia she always recognized Teresa and she thoroughly enjoyed her company.

I have often said that I probably would not have won the judicial election in 1982 if it had not been for the support I got from Douglas   Teresa and Scotty worked tirelessly to get me elected adn I will always be grateful for their help and support.  

Having lost my mother in circumstances very similar to Teresa's, I think I know how bittersweet her passing must have been.  We all cherish our mothers and dread the day we lose them.  Nancy Regan probably described dementia best when she called it "the long goodbye."    It comforts me to remember all of the wonderful, fun times we ahared with Mom.   So many of those times included Teresa and all of your family.  I am crying with you and smiling at the same time when I rememberhow much Teresa meant to me and to so many others.

If there is anything I can do or any help that you need, please don't hesitate to call.

With love and deepest sympathy,


I know Jim probably won't  read this post, but it means the world to me at so many levels.   And there are so many people who have sent such nice cards. Thank you!!!   

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