From 13 till I graduated from high school, I would mow their lawn, for which they always overpaid me. When they would go on trips, my sister and I would take care of their animals. I house sat their dogs on several occasions.
Every year on my birthday (well beyond high school), there was a gift, and a card with a dollar in it for every year old I was, plus one to grow on.
Their family and extended family weren't really close by, so some Christmases or Thanksgivings, they would join us for dinner, and they truly became part of our lives.
JoAnn had traveled through Korea during (or just after) the war as part of a USO organized women's softball team. She had about 600 slides of the trip, and asked me one day about where she should take them to get them converted to digital pictures. Of course I offered to do it for her... the pictures were amazing, and it was worth every minute I spent on them just to see them. But of course she gave me way too much money for the project when I was done.
Patty was secretly in love with me. Every Christmas that they were over for dinner, she'd get a glass of wine or three in her, and when it was time to go and everyone was getting their goodbye hugs she'd whisper in my ear, "If I was fifty years younger... you wouldn't be safe!" Half the time she'd slip money into my hand and say, "Don't tell your mother. Just buy yourself another Christmas present." And most of the time I was able to get it back into her pocket before she left (for which I'd get scolded later).
I'm closer to these two women than I am to alot of my biological extended family.
Patty died about half an hour ago.
We got the call down here in Santa Maria because dad has the house phone forwarded to his cell. JoAnn wanted mom to come down to say good bye... but we're too far away.
And now I'm really sad.
It just doesn't stop...