My Friend Stella

Sunset, Hampi, India

Sunset, Hampi, India

Lovely Stella

Lovely Stella

I have been so sad this week that I didn’t feel like writing a post but I decided that perhaps writing about what’s been making me sad would be a good idea. My closest and dearest friend, Stella, died last Sunday due to complications following an operation. Just four days before her birthday which would have been today, June 27th. We knew each other since the age of seven, lived in the same neighbourhood in Nairobi, went to the same school and were inseparable until we went to different universities and our paths diverged. We kept in touch over the years and whenever we met, it was as if no time had passed and we were as close as we had always been. She was fun, loyal, smart, good-natured, beautiful, and had a quick and wonderful sense of humour.

As children, we spent our evenings wandering about the neighbourhood sometimes stealing fruit from neighbour’s gardens, amongst other adventures. She had a red guava tree in her backyard while her neighbour’s tree produced white ones. One of the funniest incidents was when we climbed the shed in her backyard to pick the white guavas from the neighbour’s garden and on the roof met the neighbour’s son doing the exact same thing in order to pick red ones from Stella’s garden. So we all picked from both trees and sat up there stuffing ourselves with guavas. There was a pond close to our neighbourhood  and I remember going there with Stella and our other pals to catch dragonflies during school holidays. This would take hours as anyone who as ever tried to catch  a dragonfly will know. Once caught, we would tie a piece of thread around them and fly them like kites. Seems cruel now but it was fun then! After the rains, we’d collect frog spawn and bring it home to watch tadpoles emerge. Such innocent pastimes we had then. Living in Kenya in those days, we had no TV and no phone and we amused ourselves in very simple ways. It was Stella who taught me how to ride a bike and thanks to her, I still cycle to this day to get around in Toronto.

Stella was very beautiful, tall with gorgeous almond-shaped eyes. Needless to say, as a teenager, she had many admirers not all of whom met her parents approval. One Valentine’s day as we were standing in her veranda, an Interflora courier delivered a bouquet of flowers. The sender was someone her parents had forbidden her to see. What should we do? Dump them in the bin, hide them? Quick-witted as always, Stella ripped off the card marched into the house and presented her mother with the bouquet. Her mother was thrilled, Stella avoided a battle, the flowers looked beautiful on the piano, and everybody was happy!

Stella had such a positive attitude to life. Despite her first husband Savio dying at an early age leaving her with three young children to raise, she soldiered on, developing a career in education and overseeing her husband’s business at the same time. When the children were grown, she met her second husband Tony, and finally was able to enjoy a few carefree years. I’m so glad that she had this time of great happiness.

Palazzo Venezia Star Chandelier

Palazzo Venezia Star Chandelier

Stella, we will miss you so much. Your name is synonymous with light and truly a light has gone out of our lives. One less star on earth but every time I look at the night sky, I will think of you shining up there in the heavens.

For friends who would like to keep Stella’s memory alive and are thinking of ways to do so, her colleagues have started a Stella E. de Wit Memorial Scholarship. Stella  was associated with the Chilliwack School District in BC, Canada where she played a leading role in French language education. Contact Jacqueline Taylor (jacquietaylor@me.com) if you wish to make a contribution.

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8 Responses to My Friend Stella

  1. Apollonia Fernandes says:

    Joyce,

    How touching and such innocent memories! Stella surely touched us all in
    some way or other.
    Take care.

    xx

  2. Niamh Kelly says:

    Dear Joyce, I am so sorry for your loss of a dear friend.
    I will connect with you by phone when you are in Toronto next month

    with sympathies, Niamh

  3. Joan DoRosario says:

    Joyce, what a beautiful tribute to a truly beautiful lady. My condolences to you on losing such a close & dear friend. No doubt, the void she has left in your heart will be impossible to fill. I remember Stella well, during those idyllic Nairobi teenage years, and although our paths have not crossed over the past 40 years in Canada, I felt a deep sense of regret when I heard of her passing. May she rest in peace.
    Regards,
    Joan DoRosario
    P.S…heard of your fantastic blog through the Dr. Ribeiro Goan School website/ Merwin D’Souza.

  4. Jacquie Taylor says:

    Joyce,
    Thank you so much for writing about Stella on your blog. I really appreciate hearing about her childhood. She was a dear friend of mine although I only had the pleasure of knowing her for the past 15 years…she left far too young and I will miss her very much!

  5. Juliet says:

    Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
    The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
    Hath had elsewhere its setting,
    And cometh from afar:
    Not in entire forgetfulness,
    And not in utter nakedness,
    But trailing clouds of glory do we come
    From God, who is our home:

  6. Anna Mutadi says:

    Thank you Joyce, for sharing your childhood memories of Stella in such an eloquent way. I loved hearing about your life together in Kenya. Although I only got to know Stella 15 years ago, we had a very special connection through our love of travel. She took me to her childhood city of Nairobi on one of our adventures where I had the pleasure of hearing her speak in the native language of kikuyu. We were always planning our next adventure together. Stella was looking forward to being our Palm Springs neighbour with the purchase of a resort home next door to ours. Sadly, we will not be able to sit on our patios together, with our wine in hand, to wave at our husbands as they hit their balls onto the first hole green. She was a kind, generous, dynamic and loving friend. I too will miss her very much. Anna

  7. Rona says:

    What a beautiful tribute to a dear friend. Stella will be missed
    by all those whose life she touched…..
    Your blog brought back memories of when I knew you both
    in Nairobi (for a short while) in the good old days!
    good to catch up with you after all this time.

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