Ciao Bella Stellina
My Dearest Ingrid,
I wrote this letter so Walter could read it to you as I am sadly unable to get over there to you to say good-bye in person Ingrid. Walter tells me you are very weary now, I understand after seven years of trying to beat this tumour it will not be long before it will take you from us. I wrote this for me as well as for you.
I know how much of a special friend you have been to me over the years. We met at U/Mass, Amherst in the first term of 1986, when I grabbed an opportunity to finish my final Uni term in America. I just chanced moving into the same dorm as you. We clicked from day one and you helped this Aussie girl immerse into the crazy U/Mass campus life. Many times we would visit and stay with your eccentric family in Great Neck, Long Island, over the summer of 1986. The start of our special friendship which grew over the decades to come.
I will never forget returning to Long Island in 1989 and meeting Walter, your new boyfriend. You were into the same things, crazy adventures and shared the same energy and so many passions (not just the obvious “love” for each other.) A few years later I was back visiting and lucky to have been a guest at your wedding to Walter. What a day and celebrations late into the night that was!
This was after we spent the night before your big day, chatting into the early hours, because your house was so full of guests there was no where else for you to sleep. We talked about love and finding the right guy and what that meant to both us. You were so deliriously happy to be marrying Walter the next day.
Over the years we have corresponded erratically, initially with letters, cards and loads of photos; many phone calls and later with enhanced technology via emails. We always managed to catch up with each other’s lives and we never felt a gap between chats as we would talk and talk – for one person first thing in the morning – the other late at night!
One of our most memorable times together was in July 2004 – when you and Walter and your two gorgeous boys Wally Junior and Nick, came to Australia for an extended holiday. I recall collecting you and your three gorgeous men from the airport in Brisbane. It had been a few years since I had seen you and Walter and I had never actually met your young boys in person. They were so loud and so excited to be in Australia. Our two families spent a memorable couple of weeks allowing you to experience life in Aus. They were special times for us and we all have amazing memories of you and Walter and Wally and Nicholas, including many dinners, drives and walks in the bush. You and Walter catering for Charley and Fraser’s first birthday party was memorable as we and our guests enjoyed the unique treats you whipped up in the kitchen, using your skills honed in the kitchen and bakery in America.
Ingrid, you always had the most amazing zest for life and love for doing the crazy things. Your love for your boys and for kids in general was obvious and you talked so passionately about your role as a kindergarten teacher in the US. Even when you were sick you still mustered the energy to get back to the class-room. You had good advice for our boys, sharing your love of books, the outdoors, being active and showing them first hand the importance of a good cooked breakfast – with protein!
Over the next few years we managed to catch up over the phone and via emails updating each other on our busy lives. You and Walter were amazing support to me when I separated, putting such a positive spin on things and how to hang in there because at some stage, life would turn a corner.
That’s the most special thing about you Ingrid is how you always found the good in people, places and life in general. You would take the biggest chunk from life and live every day to the fullest; you always made time for friends, even though your days were very full. Your non-stop energy and enthusiasm when you worked long, hard hours at the Happauge bakery astounded me for the short time I worked there with you and Walter. Then later dealing with all the medical treatment you went through to try and beat that damn tumour.
My good friend, I know we have run out of time for my family to get over and spend a white Christmas with you, but you know that you will never be far from my thoughts. I will take my boys back there one year and spend it with Walter and your young men.
I am so grateful for the time we shared, the jokes, the laughter, the places we visited the many alcoholic beverages we consumed as we tried to work out what we could do in this world to make it a better place. For your forty-one years you have touched many and I know my world has been richer having known you. I will forever cherish the fondest memories of my dear American buddy, who I am going to miss so much. Your cheery voice and laughter, I will never forget.
My heart is very sad to know you are lingering in your weakened state and that Walter will read this to you provides me little comfort, but I know you are letting go of this mortal coil because it is your time and you have endured enough.
We will meet again one day my friend and I will get to gossip with you until the red wine runs dry. Thank you for being such a wonderful part of my life. We will always have Walter and Wally and Nicholas to continue to remember the spirit of Ingrid who will never ever be forgotten. Au Revoir my dear friend. xxoo
From Walter 13th July, 2008:
Sadly Ingrid passed peacefully, with her family giving her love all of the time.
It was much faster than we thought, but we were all together the final days.
To say your goodbyes to Ingrid, simply look up into the night sky, find a star and say something nice.
Her middle name was Stellina, which translates into “little star” in Italian.