In a little more than six weeks, this is what I will be seeing:

And a big reason WHY I will be gazing out into the beautiful Gulf of Mexico is because of a woman who passed away five years ago on Monday.  Sue was my boss at my first insurance job.  She was a great boss and a wonderful person.  Sue owned a condo in Englewood Beach, FL.  I had never heard of it so I asked her about it.  She showed me pictures and told me it was about two hours South of Tampa.  Then, she offered me use of the condo.  B and I had only met a couple months before but we had talked about taking a beach vacation.  Sue set it all up for us and gave a great deal on the rental price.  Needless to say, B and I fell in LOVE.  Englewood is NOT a tourist area but it is beautiful and QUIET. When I left that job after a couple of years, Sue again let us use the condo for the week I took off in between that job and my new one.  B and I had an even BETTER time on that visit!  We knew it would be a place we would return to.

Sue and I kept in touch on and off for a bit but, as often happens, we lost touch.  Then, one day I was reading the paper back in CT and I saw her obituary.  I was shocked and saddened.  She was only 63.  The paper said that she had passed away in Florida so I knew that she had retired and she and her husband had moved there full time.  I called another former co-worker to get details.  She told me that Sue had passed away from cancer (ovarian, I think) and that it has been very quick.  She had only JUST retired the year before.  I was pregnant with Buggy and had suffered two miscarriages before her so I was taking it easy and was unable to attend Sue’s memorial service.  I was saddened but was there in spirit.  I knew she would be greatly missed.

Once B and I moved to FL, we knew we wanted to start a tradition of a beach vacation every summer, just like we had as children.  Englewood seemed like the logical choice.  So, in early 2010, we started to look into it.  We had our eye on a house on the beach but it was no longer available for rental once we hammered down when we wanted to go.  So, we decided to check out the complex where Sue owned her condo (she had sold it before she retired).  It looked just as we remembered it so we booked one of the end units (right on the Gulf) and planned our trip.

We had an awesome time.  The kids LOVED it.  It was nice, peaceful and relaxing.  There was hardly anyone there and the weather was GORGEOUS.  We stayed in the same condo last summer and will again in a few weeks.   Buggy calls it “the beach house.”  I think of Sue often during our week there.  I know how much she loved it and I know she is never far from there.

By now I’m sure you’re wondering what this has to do with Facebook.  Well, thanks to Facebook, I had reconnected with some of my old co-workers from the company I had worked at with Sue.  I knew one of them was also friends with Sue’s daughter on Facebook.  I had mentioned to my former co-worker that I had thought about sending Sue’s daughter a message and she encouraged me to do so.  But, time got away from me and I never did.  Then, late last week, my former co-worker posted that it was the anniversary of her husband’s passing.  Sue’s daughter, Kelly, responded noting that Monday would be the anniversary of Sue’s death,  So, I took the opportunity to let her know who I was and how Sue had led us to our favorite vacation spot.  That led to Kelly sending me a private message and we got to chatting about her mother, Englewood and other things.  Kelly loves Englewood as much as her mother did.  Sue now has four grandchildren, including one named after her.  Her husband still lives in the Englewood area.  Kelly asked me to say hi to Sue while I was there.  They had spread Sue’s ashes in the Gulf at Stump’s Pass…the main beach in Englewood.  I told her I would since we often ate at the restaurant right across the street.  She told me she ate there often too.

Kelly sent me a friend request and we browsed each other’s pictures.  She sent me another message asking if my kids called one of their grandfathers “Bumpa.”  I explained my Dad was Bumpa to my kids just as his dad had been to me, even though he had died before I was born. Kelly then told me that was what HER kids called HER father and what she had called her grandfather.  We both got goosebumps and we were certain Sue was near.  We ended our chat with promises to keep in touch and hopefully get together when she was in FL.

I am so glad I have had the chance to connect to Kelly.  Sue spoke of BOTH of her daughter’s often and I know she was a great mother who is sorely missed.  She passed on her love of Englewood not only to her own family, but to mine.  I am forever grateful to her for that and I hope my kids carry on the legacy.  Thank you, Sue.

Englewood on Dwellable