About three weeks ago, I lost a dear, dear old friend. Doris Coombs was her name and I am very sad to lose her. She was 99 years old and died one month shy of her 100th birthday.
She was my dear friend and neighbor and the only way she showed aging was her dependence on the walker she used. Her mind was perfect: She remembered events that I had completely forgotten as a fellow lifelong Malden resident.
Growing up in Malden, attending Malden High School, it pleased her so much to reminisce about the good old days and about the city and its neighborhoods including the Maplewood section where she grew up.
Even though I was not as familiar with the Maplewood section as she was, I remember my mother talking about growing up there. I would take her out for our usual Sunday drive up and down the streets and hills of Maplewood and those memories made me especially enjoy Doris’ stories about Maplewood and the Malden of yesteryear.
Our friendship clicked right from the beginning. We lived in the same apartment complex on upper Highland Avenue. Her apartment door was directly opposite my door. Doris had a few health issues, so we kept our doors open except at night. It worked out great, because our apartments together seemed like one big apartment. Doris was never alone and neither was I.
I visited her during the day and in the evening as often as I could. As time went on, she needed more help, and fortunately she received enough assistance to continue living on her own. It meant so much to her.
Like so many of us, Doris endured a great tragedy in her life. Her daughter, Gail, died unexpectedly at the age of 51. Doris was heart-sick, but she picked herself up, and faced it. It took awhile, but she found peace.
Doris also had two wonderful sons and daughters-in-law who were there for her during all her illnesses. Her friend, Danny, and his friend, Diane, were happy to do anything for Doris and they appreciated what Doris had done for them in their lives.
When I think of Doris, I think of a good life. She worked hard for herself and others. I am so happy I had Doris to be my friend. I will miss her dearly. In fact, I already do.