Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Remembering Wendy

I so often use my blog to talk about famous people and their accomplishments, but this is not one of those posts. This one falls very much into the personal category, and I thank my readers in advance for allowing me a few moments to share my thoughts on a friend.

I just learned this morning via Facebook of the passing of a friend of mine from high school. Wendy Sue(Rzeptkowski) Vosper passed away on Sunday, October 9th, after a long battle with breast cancer.

Unlike many of my classmates who grew up and went to elementary school with her, I did not meet Wendy until our high school years (1979 to 1983). She was a very active student - a member of student council, the girls' volleyball team, the Junior class play, and the National Honor Society. Though we were both in that last organization and had a few classes with each other over the years, it was really our Senior year that I got to know her better.

That year we both had Mrs. Beardsley for advance placement English class. This was a more agressive class aimed at those of us going on to college. It was a challenging class with a lot of work. Now, I always loved my English classes since reading and writing were my favorite things to do both inside and outside of school. But that class was one I looked forward to for other reasons. She and I sat next to each other on the front row of class that entire year. Wendy was not only a smart student but she was also gorgeous too. She had a smile that could light up a room.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't attracted to her during those years. However, she was dating one of the athletes in our class. So, Wendy and I remained friends, often talking about assignments and the meanings of symbolism in literary works and such. She never made me feel like a geek or a dork. Even though she was part of the popular crowd, she saw me as a peer. That meant a lot to me.

At the end of the year, she wrote over her picture in my yearbook (she always seemed a bit modest about her looks, very humble) the following:

Martin, it's been a lot of fun this year. We're goinna have to go dancing sometime. It's too bad that we're not going to the same college so we could sort of help each other in English. Take care of yourself. I hope to see you around a lot. Keep in touch! Love ya, Wendy

After graduation, we both went off to continue our studies at different schools. I would see her every now and then when I was home on break or during the summers, usually out at a local night spot. We'd exchange hugs and small talk.

Wendy would go on to have a very successful career in banking and run her own business. She turned out to be the success I always knew she would.

We did connect a few times electronically in the past decade or so. I managed to locate her via an online trail when I was doing prep work for our 20th high school reunion. We exchanged a number of emails then and caught up on two decades. We later connected too on Facebook and LinkedIn too. But our contact was limited to just those occasional electronic notes. She wasn't able to make it back for either the 20th or 25th class reunions.

During all that time she was dealing with breast cancer. She had thought it had gone into remission but it recently returned again. Wendy fought hard through it all, and her battle will not be forgotten. Her final wishes included that donations be made in her memory to the Susan G. Komen Foundation that supports the research for a cure for cancer. To the end, she was an advocate and looking to help others.

Wendy will certainly be missed. Already her Facebook page is filling with tributes from family and friends whose lives she touched. We all know that Heaven has a new angel, one that has earned eternal rest after such a difficult struggle.


Madge said...

Thanks for sharing your memories of Wendy. She and I first became friends in kindergarten. And remained best pals in HS until I moved away after sophomore year, however I still came to town and stayed at her house many times after I moved. We shed many tears over boys together. lol It feels like a part of my childhood is gone now. It's sad. I will always cherish her memory and be thankful she was my friend.

Martin Maenza said...

Madge, thanks for sharing. I remember that you two were close friends. It is so sad when anyone dies from cancer, especially someone so young and so giving as Wendy. We have a new guardian angel in Heaven now.