Sunday Post 170: A Very Best Friend

I don’t think I realized it at the time, but she was one of my very best friends.

She wasn’t anything like me. We grew up in two very different worlds. She was ten years older than me, an African-American. She’d lived in Raleigh her entire life. Her mode of transportation was a city bus. She rented an apartment on the other side of town from us.

Lillian was our nanny for eleven years. Every weekday, fifty-one weeks a year, I’d pick her up at the bus stop near the Harris Teeter. In winter, she’d wear her heavy, brown, wool jacket. She always carried a huge purse.

In the afternoon, I’d drive her back to that corner so she could wait for the vehicle that would get her back home. Sometimes, if the weather was bad I’d drive her to north Raleigh.

We talked about it all.  There wasn’t a subject that was off limits.  I knew about her family, her divorce. She’d spent some time in Fayetteville, my hometown. She loved her family, was so proud of her niece and nephew.

We talked about my marriage. She encouraged me to be a better father and shared with me the things I’d missed when I was at work.

I can’t tell you how often we laughed about the nutty things she’d see parents do through the years in her profession of childcare.  We even talked about our faith.

We never spent time together outside of her work hours. She didn’t attend my kids’ school functions or recitals. We didn’t go to church together or go out to dinner. But there was a mutual respect and admiration.

She suffered from a stroke six years ago. Although I visited on occasion, communication was difficult.  We never had the chance to disucss Lisa’s death or her illness.

When she died a few weeks ago, I was relieved. She had been so sick for so long. I knew she would be better off in heaven.

What I didn’t expect was how I’d react as I saw her brother walk down the aisle behind her casket. The memories of our time together. The conversations. The laughter.  It tore me up.

It’s interesting how certain folks cross our paths. I find it odd how two so seemingly different could forge such a connection. But maybe we just weren’t so different after all.

Perhaps the odd thing is that we don’t all have more connections with folks who don’t look and act just like we do.  It sure does make life richer.

Leave a comment


  1. You don’t have to look, act, or live like you do to experience a human connection. But I don’t beleive I need to tell you that. I think that is what you just said.

  2. I’m sorry for your loss.

  3. Aunt Susan

     /  May 25, 2014

    I remember meeting her a few times, she was a gift to the family and the girls. I am glad that she was in your family. She is now at peace and enjoying watching all of her “children”

  4. People gifts us parts of their lives when they meet us….. it is up to us not to let them fade away

  5. Lisa Poole

     /  May 25, 2014

    My “other mother” was named Mae Mae. She was wise and sweet and loved The Lord. So much so that she sang his praises all day. She was with us for probably 15 years or so. I don’t think I’ve ever been so sad or cried so hard as I did at her funeral. There was a unique and powerful bond between us. I’m so thankful she was part of my life.

    • Danny Tanner

       /  May 25, 2014

      I hope these women knew how important they were to us.

  6. Mom

     /  May 25, 2014

    Lillian was a delightful lady. I can hear her laughter as I think about walking into the basement when we came to Raleigh to visit. I loved her spirit. She was so full of a positive spirit that you felt better just by spending a little time with her. I think she also gave the children a security that they needed in their early years. They knew that she loved them and they loved her. What a start she gave to numbers of children!


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