The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Patti Dobson
Religion columnist 

Keep your near, dear ones close


May 7, 2017

Sometimes the past sneaks up on you, in all its bittersweet glory.

As a fresh-behind-the-ears adult, I lived at Edwards Air Force Base in California. I was incredibly homesick, lonely and missed my family. I was struggling to fit in and to find my place.

And then Stephanie Levitt blew into my life, with all the force of a nor’easter.

I’ll never forget it.

We lived next door to each other, and shared a common wall and fence. We met early one windy morning, standing outside with our dogs. My dog, Smokey Joe, was trying to climb the chain link fence to get over to her poodle. And she, in all her New York glory, yelled a not-suitable-for-print greeting.

Stephanie was her own life force. She introduced herself (the printable part) as a New York Jewish American Princess who was stuck in the middle of the desert, was married to Bobby, who treated her like a queen, and she needed to find a decent cup of coffee and bagel. All in one breath.

I met Bobby later that night. As loud and boisterous as Stephanie was, Bobby was quiet. He balanced Stephanie. And true to her words, Bobby treated Stephanie like the queen that she was, and loved her beyond all measure.

Some of the best memories of early adulthood are from my time living next door to the Levitts.

One of my worst Thanksgiving meals ever happened in their home. Stephanie and I decided to do a traditional Thanksgiving meal. I don’t remember whose bright idea it was to leave a turkey thawing on a counter for a few days, but here’s a bit of advice: Don’t do that.

When we took the turkey out of the bag to get it ready for cooking, the color — and stench — convinced us otherwise. It also drove us all out of their house.

When I left Edwards AFB, Stephanie drove back home with me. My dad introduced her to the area by doing what he always did with guests: He drove her through the stockyards.

The cursing, oh the cursing. She yelled at him, in her thick accent peppered with words I was certain she’d made up. My dad laughed himself silly; the more she hollered, the more he laughed.

We stayed in contact for a long time, but as these things sometimes happen, we lost touch. I thought about the Levitts, Stephanie, Bobby, and their daughter Jennifer, and tried to find them time and again.

Last week, Jennifer found me on Facebook. It was bittersweet in that she told me Stephanie passed away last June. I scrolled through Jennifer’s and Stephanie’s pages, with tears and laughter. The years washed away, and I could hear Stephanie’s voice, as memories filtered through my sorrow.

We assume, wrongly, that we have all the time in the world. I regret losing contact with people that meant so much to me. I am grateful for the chance to reconnect, and to dance with the memories, and to renew old friendships.

I know Stephanie rests with the Creator, and I can only imagine the conversations.

Rest well, dear friend.

Patti Dobson writes about faith for The Eastern New Mexico News. Contact her at: [email protected]


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