I thought I saw my friend Regina Rolle

IMG_7246the other day.   I was so sure that I started looking online to see if she had moved back to the area.  I haven’t talked to her since soon after 9 11, when she called me to see how things were over here in upstate NY.  She had moved out to Phoenix to become a Montessori teacher after we worked together in a doctor’s office.

Since our last call, I think maybe we touched base once on Facebook.  I started thinking about how much I hoped she was back in town, how much fun it would be to go to Friendlys again with her and have a really gritty conversation about life over turkey and mashed potatoes.  I thought about how real and how color blind she was and most importantly, how hopeful.

I recalled helping Regina on a few of her projects.  She decided one year to create and host a party for children at the Ithaca Southside Community Center.  Many people came and it was a success.

I thought about how she had lost her parents when she was just a child and how sad that made her feel, how different perhaps her life might have been.  Regina was not bitter, she easily could have been.

Not only was she not bitter, I thought she had a wisdom in seeing things most people miss.  She told me once how sad it is that the  black folk and white folk have so much damaging conflict.  She thought it ironic since they have so much in common:  economic disenfranchisement among many things.

Regina wanted to be a teacher.  She loved children and loved taking them under her wing.  She was good at it, often babysitting a relative’s four little ones who had lost their mother.  So Regina decided to go back to school in mid-life to become a Montessori teacher.

I remember her packing up…going through her things…what to take, what to dump. I looked on amazed that she had old Tiger Beats!  She hated to throw them out and for some reason, I think she insisted on taking them with her.  I like to think it was because they represented a happy time for her.

My husband and I gave Regina’s relative a computer we weren’t using.  Soon after we gave it to her cousin, it died.  I apologized to her later…she said, “Oh no, that is ok, because that was the beginning of more and better computers for my cousin.”

We had so many laughs and heart to hearts at the office where we worked, that one year, on my birthday, I was surprised that of all the people who forgot, she did.  But then, toward the end of my day, Regina showed up, gift in hand.  It was the coffee mug pictured here.  I was delighted.  I get it out often when I want to put a smile on my face.

It never occurred to me I would not see Regina again.  So when I thought I saw her three weeks ago, I had to call her.  I’m way too late, she passed on in 2012!.  She was only in her late 50s, a sure sign that only the good die young.