Saturday I attended the funeral visitation of a dear friend, Patricia Escamilla. Patricia died very unexpectedly, young and was my friend's mother.

Patricia had been dealt a tough hand at times, but she maintained a joyful, loving and positive attitude. She was always willing to help anyone, raised several children that were not her own and made everyone feel loved and special. Even at the hospital she would create art to share with her fellow patients. Her family though was her legacy and her biggest source of pride.

One of my favorite memories of her is when we would get together at Christmas. It was always a big family affair with a lot of food and laughter. The last Christmas I was able to spend with her she gave me a toboggan. Every year she would bring extra items to make sure everyone received a gift and didn't leave empty handed. Simple things such as a hat, scarf or pair of gloves. Regardless they were always gifts from the heart. She didn't know it, but I kept them and when I saw the hat or scarf it always was special because she gave it to me. I loved her and it reminded me that I was loved too.

The lesson of how to be a loving human being wasn't the only one that she taught many people. Even when times were tough, she persevered.

At her funeral visitation, I saw the faces of my friends who had just lost their dear mother, and wife of over 40 years. The faces of friends I hadn't seen in many years, and this was what I found the most overwhelming.

I looked into the eyes of my hurting friend and realized the time since I had seen her last. I can't remember the last time I hugged her, or bought her lunch. I used to call her and say, I'm just calling to water my “friend garden.” Just checking in to say “Hey! I love you and am thinking of you today.”

When is the last time you watered your friend garden? Why do we allow life, distractions, people and even our jobs to make it so the only time we see people we love is at a funeral? A wedding? As tears poured out, all I could do was reflect on this.

My friends were always there for me, they taught me great lessons. Wendy and Jerry taught me what a healthy marriage should look like, how to raise balanced children, and how to put family and friends first. Tracy taught me how to host an amazing party, how to be a strong woman through trials and that nurses have their own criteria for what is an emergency and most of the time it isn't one. April taught me how to give and that in business there is enough pie for everyone to share. Linda taught me patience and how to support a friend in need. I have been blessed with more friends over the years but these are a few that knew Patricia as well. They also taught me things I didn't want to know, I can be self absorbed, that I can't pull a sled through a ditch and not dump the person in a puddle and that I have the mental focus of a squirrel.

I say all that to say this, We have got to prioritize the people in our lives. This day and age everyone is busy and it is very easy to fill our schedules with this or that. It is so easy to say they understand, they are busy too, or I have to make a living, but in actuality when we choose everything but God, our family and friends we are letting our garden wilt. When things go wrong, our jobs, money, possessions and cell phones will not be there for advice, comfort or companionship.

When the going gets tough, you need to have watered your garden and be there for your family and friends.

Thank you Patricia for loving us, reminding me that time goes quickly and that the purpose of this life is to love one another and be a blessing. You will be missed.

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