Every Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Ramona Hamby would tell anyone who would listen not to bother her because she would be “in court.”

“She loved watching her shows,’” Lucy Matias said in recalling her friend’s fondness for daytime television courtroom shows.

“Ramona would say, ‘You know what today is. It’s court time,’” Matias said in reflecting on years of memories with her friend Ramona, who died June 11, 2020, from COVID-19 complications at St. Luke’s Hospital. She was 49.

“’Mona left such a great positive impact on my life and so many others,” said Matias, who read a small farewell note that she recited last year at Hamby’s funeral service in New Bedford.

“You will never be forgotten. You will remain in my heart for eternity,” Matias said. “Now you belong to Heaven. I miss your voice, your smile. Everything about you was worthwhile. I hope you’re with us near or far. It’s empty without your smile and your presence.”

Matias said that her friend Hamby, a Boston native who settled in New Bedford, had a tough life, struggling with alcohol addiction and strained relationships with her own family. Matias said she met Hamby when she took in one of her kids as a foster parent. Over time, they become close friends.

“She was a character,” Matias said, adding how Hamby had a delicious chicken wings recipe that she would never divulge because her grandmother, whom she adored, had told her, “Never share your recipes.”

Hamby also enjoyed the small culinary pleasures of Chinese food, KFC and Subway. She had eclectic tastes in music and looked forward to getting her hair and nails done, not to mention foot and leg massages.

“If she could go to the salon or spa and get all that, she’d be the happiest camper on Earth,” Matias said.

Hamby also really loved to hug her friends, and felt “lost without them,” Matias said. When she went to a Dollar Tree with Matias, Hamby would sometimes blurt out, to no one in particular, as she was cashing out, “I love you all.”

Her favorite spot in New Bedford was Fort Taber, where she and Matias would often go to relax and listen to the sounds of the ocean waves on the beach. “We used to talk about a lot of stuff there,” Matias said. “We’d go there all year long.”

Matias said she and Hamby went to Fort Taber for the last time about a week before Hamby was admitted to St. Luke’s Hospital, where she tested positive for COVID-19 a few days later. Having struggled with bad health nearly her whole life, Hamby soon went on a ventilator. 

Not too long after, Matias received a message from someone at the hospital advising her to go on FaceTime so she could see her friend’s final moments of life.

“It was hard for me to see her go,” Matias said. “It still is.”


A VIRTUAL MEMORIAL

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As the city emerges from the long siege of COVID-19, we pause to take stock of what – and whom – we’ve lost. Please help build this community memorial by adding a tribute to your loved one.


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