One ribbon in the Story Quilt of:
How Do I Share My Money, Time and Love? — A Woman's Dilemma—By Barbara V.
Regina and I met in 1980 when we both worked at Shawmut Bank. We found ourselves in the same master’s program at Simmons College. We shared a love for exploring new ideas, we both enjoyed working, and we both loved Boston. She told me about her family, and I told her about mine. She was my biggest supporter, a conscientious listener, a real girlfriend who enjoyed a shopping trip to Chestnut Hill. She instilled in me a confidence that I would not have had without her. We didn’t always see everything the same way, but we never argued. She would explain her position and would listen while I explained mine. Rarely did either of us win the other over, but we always had a healthy exchange of ideas. Regina introduced me to Tanglewood, the Christmas Pops, the Peterborough Players, and dinner at The Ritz.
When I began teaching public speaking at UNH, Regina thought she would like to do the same, so I took Regina’s resume to the department chair, and soon, we were both working as adjunct faculty.
Every evening before class, we would meet at a little restaurant in downtown Durham for dinner. The first class was always a bit chaotic, and Regina had a lot of students at her door who were not registered. Each had a compelling story as to why they needed the class. Regina admitted all of them. How she handled a public speaking class that was double the usual size, I’m not sure, but she figured it out in true Regina fashion. The students loved her!
When I moved to Hesser College in Manchester, Regina called and asked if there was a job for her. I took her resume to the dean, and Regina was hired as an adjunct instructor teaching a variety of business courses. A few years later, she was brought in as a full-time consultant.
Every morning around 10, Regina would come in with her cup of coffee, and we’d sit and catch up. There were other instructors and staff who she also checked in with during the day. Regina loved to focus on a project. She could churn out more work than anyone I knew, but she also enjoyed the relationships she developed in the workplace. She cared about people. She cared about what was going on in their lives. She believed in education, both for herself and others.
Regina was a wonderful story teller, and I’ve never known anyone who knew so much trivia. She was a voracious reader, and that could include serious books, fiction, and pop culture magazines. She watched a lot of television, surviving on very little sleep. She was always reading more than one book at a time.
Mornings were a magical time for her. She always said that when she heard the birds chirping, she knew it was ok to get out of bed.
One night on the way home from work, Regina stopped at the animal shelter and asked to see the cat that nobody was interested in adopting. They brought out an older cat which Regina said she would take. Then they brought out two other cats that no one was interested in. Regina adopted all three of them. And then there was Pyewacket: the kitty that turned up on Regina’s doorstep during a raging blizzard. Regina opened the door, and the rest, as they say, is history.
After her mom died, Regina began hiking up and down the mountain near her home by herself. I was concerned that she was hiking alone, but those hikes helped Regina deal with her grief. I was always impressed with how Regina would simply rise to the occasion and deal with whatever the issue was. She did that at work, and she did that at home, often relying on her faith, which was an important part of her life
Regina’s solution to everything has always been hard work and acquiring more education. She enrolled in a Master’s program at Boston College in Administrative Studies. She was commuting to BC from Hancock and living in the college library when she wasn’t in class. I’d rarely hear from her because she was putting her usual 150% effort into her studies. Once she completed her degree, she said she was going to look at employment opportunities in the D.C. area, and went to visit Ginny in Virginia.
Regina told me stories about her family. I knew Ginny and Dave had a passion for the hunt. I knew about Arthur and his family’s move from the cold north to sunny Scottsdale. I knew that Peter could answer all my gardening questions. Regina kept me up to date on the lives of her nieces and nephews, their weddings and their children.
The family house and barn in Hancock where Regina had grown up was her refuge. She loved working the property in the summer and shoveling snow in the winter. When a stranger asked to take a picture of the barn and the picture appeared in a calendar of barns, Regina was as proud as could be. She gave me one of the calendars for Christmas.
I worried about Regina in the winter when she would lose power and the sump pumps would stop working, and the basement flooded. When the power went out, the house would have no heat. One winter storm left her without heat for two weeks. I begged Regina to come stay at our house, but she wouldn’t budge. I can’t imagine how she survived living in that cold, but she did, more than once. When Regina needed professional help maintaining the property or her car, the professionals she called were all friends whose families she knew. I think she had them all on speed dial.
As often as she talked about selling her home in Hancock, I knew that in her heart of hearts, she never wanted to leave the place she grew up. As willing as Regina was to take on new jobs and new educational challenges, that same sense of adventure wasn’t in play when it came to making changes that involved her personal life. Those decisions were much more difficult for her.
When we would discuss the future, Regina was absolutely convinced that she wanted to keep working. Working provided a routine and a focus. I think it also provided social interaction which was important to her. In typical Regina style, she enrolled in a weekend Doctor of Education Program at Regis to prepare herself for the next step in her career. I don’t think Regina understood how she could possibly fill her time without a job to go to every day
Regina almost always spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day and Easter having dinner with my husband, Larry, and myself, but last year, even though we tried, we were only able to get together for Easter. I always made an Easter basket for Regina filled with lots of chocolate which I optimistically hoped would carry her through the year.
Over the decades, Regina and I spent a lot of time together. Not enough, but a lot. One New Year’s Day, we headed into Boston for lunch. The day was unusually warm. I found a parking place on the street in Boston. We walked through Copley Square looking at the melting ice sculptures from First Night. We ate in Copley Plaza’s Oak Room, and we talked and talked and talked. Before we left the city, we drove around the Common to see the Christmas lights. We had a perfectly charmed day.
When I remember Regina, I want to remember that day with a wonderful friend who enjoyed life, who loved her family and friends, whose religion was her strength. A woman who dedicated herself to being a good person who could make a difference in the world. A person who touched people’s lives.
Regina, you defined for me what friendship is, and I will be forever grateful for the time we shared together.