Posts Tagged ‘Friendship’

Anna

November 26, 2013

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I was drawn to Anna’s room this morning because I missed her in the dining room at breakfast. She was always there before me. As I clocked in at the nursing home each morning, and walked through the big open room, no one would be there but Anna. She’d wave me over, and make me twirl in front of her old eyes so she could marvel at my outfit for the day. If she absolutely loved the entire ensamble, she’d clap her hands, and reach out to kiss me. Otherwise, she’d give me a compliment on the bit of pink in my scarf, or the buckle on my belt, or tell me the blue of my blouse matched my eyes.

She wasn’t there this morning. At ninety-six, she’s been like one of those proverbial cats with nine lives. She’s fought off every cold and pneumonia that came her way, and continued to smoke through it all. “When you’re my age, honey, and you’ve lost all your real loves, your twin sister, your husband, your friends, who cares if you die from lung cancer? There’s no one left to grieve for you, and I love me a cigarette.”

I went to her room where I found her small frail body nestled among blankets and pillows. The oxygen tubing ran from her nose to a whirring machine at her bedside. Her eyes were closed and she struggled with every shallow breath.

I pulled up a chair, and took her hand. I sat for a long time rubbing my thumb across the fragile vein-lined skin of her hand. I remembered our trip to the football game where her husband’s University of Virginia Cavaliers played her Virginia Tech Hokies. She stood and cheered and laughed about how her husband was frowning down on her antics from heaven. “He never was a good loser,” she’d said.

At times Anna searched for Virginia, her twin. When reminded that Virginia had passed away some years ago, Anna would say, “Oh hell, that’s right. Once you’re connected with someone from the start, it’s hard to let go.”

As I got up to leave Anna’s bedside, I leaned over and hugged her one last time. I whispered in her ear that it was alright to let go, that Virginia and that Cavalier husband of hers were waiting for her with their arms outstretched, all she had to do was let go. I kissed her forehead and told her I loved her.

Anna completed her journey on this earth today. Godspeed my friend

My New Friend

July 29, 2013

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My drier has developed an awful squeak. It’s happened before, and my husband can fix it, but it’s not a high priority on his list of repairs, so I hang my clothes outside. I’ve threatened to get my own tool box.

My clothespin bag hangs on a hook on the back porch. It’s convenient to the washer and to the steps leading out to the yard and the clothesline. Two weeks ago, I grabbed the clothespin bag and threw it into the basket of wet laundry. I noticed a small clump of dried mud as it fell from the inside of the bag onto my clean blouse. A mud dauber’s nest.

I threw my now dirty blouse back into the washer and stomped out the door to the clothesline, throwing the infamous clump of mud into the yard.

After hanging the rest of my clean clothes, I returned to the porch, hung my clothespin bag back on its hook and turned to work on the rest of the laundry. That’s when I noticed her, the mud dauber, a thin, black and yellow wasp-like insect. She flew back and forth across the front of the clothespin bag. She didn’t land on it, just passed in front of it over and over again. Oh no, I thought. She’s searching for her nest.

My conscience got the better of me. I hurried back out to the yard in search of the clump of dried mud I’d thrown. It took me the better part of fifteen minutes to find it. I picked it up and examined it for cracks. It was intact, including a small round hole near the bottom. I hoped no eggs had rolled out when my anger got the better of me.

I marched myself back to the clothespin bag where I examined the damage I’d caused. The nest had been attached fairly high up in the bag. I wondered what might happen if I propped the nest close to where it had been. Maybe the mud dauber would come back to it and repair my insult, re-attach her creation. Of course, I’d used some of the clothes pins for the wash, so I needed to build up the mound in order to put “operation rebuild” back into place. Meanwhile, Ms. Mud Dauber kept her vigil of hovering, turning every once in a while to look at me, accusingly.

“I need to find some more clothespins,” I explained. “Don’t worry, I think I have some in the attic.”

I ran to the stash and opened the new bag. Piling the pins as close to the original placement of the nest as I could, I gingerly placed the bottom of the mud nest into the clothespins and propped its top against the back fabric of the bag.

I turned to Ms. Dauber. “I’m so sorry,” I said. “I promise not to bother it again, if you’ll see to the repair and rebuilding.”

She landed on the opening to the bag and surveyed the damage. I could imagine her shaking her tiny head as I went back into the house, closing the backdoor behind me.

I check on Muddy often now. We’re on a first name basis. My family members smirk as they ask me how my new friend is doing. I frown at them. They don’t understand my connection with Muddy.

The two of us meet on the back porch at least once a day. She works hard daubing new little round patches on the covering of her legacy, and she listens as I tell her my frustrations about my own nest building. She thinks it’s a good idea for me to get my own set of tools. Women are capable.

I wave as Muddy slips through the crack around the storm door frame, heading to the yard for more mud, or to capture a spider to feed her babies. “That door needs fixing,” I say, as I watch Muddy’s slim body hover for a second in the sunshine.

“Really?” she asks, then she flies off on her errand.

Dragon Lady

December 31, 2012

“Get out, go on now. You heard me. Leave.”

I’ve come into Betty’s room at the nursing home for my morning visit. She lays curled inward, knees to chin, arms, hands and fingers curled tight into a protective shield at her chest. She faces the wall.

“I came to check on you, to see if you need anything.”

Her voice comes out in a too sweet, sing-song imitation of my greeting, “I’ve come to check on you,” she mocks. “to see if you neeed anything. No, I don’t need anything. Just leave.”

It’s dark in the room with the curtains drawn. “At least let me open your drapes,” I say. “The sun’s shining outside. Maybe it’ll improve your mood.”

“Oh hell, do what you want to do, then get out,” she says, sighing loudly, frustrated with my need to help.

I sweep the fabric aside, and the sun streams into the room. “There, isn’t that more cheerful?”

“If you say so,” she harrumphs.

I smile, turn toward the door, and when I reach the threshold I call over my shoulder, “We’re ordering Chinese for lunch today.”

Her voice is almost inaudible. “From the Dragon Lady?”

“You’re the only Dragon Lady I know,” I say, laughing.

“Yeah, yeah, just shut up,” she throws back at me. “Order me some shrimp fried rice and an egg roll.”

“Extra soy sauce?”

“No, A1 Steak sauce,” she shoots back, turning her head to stick her tongue out at me.

I blow her a kiss from the doorway. “I’ll see you at noon,” I say. “Save me a seat.”

“Yeah, sure. You can take your place at the end of the line,” I hear her grump as I walk away.

O

My Paula

June 21, 2012

In the midst of my grief over my father’s death, my elder friend Paula had the audacity to die on me too. She and I were instigators at best, bandits at worst. She recognized me when I walked down the hall of the nursing home and called out to me. “Hey sweetie, where you been?” I could have been gone a week or ten minutes, it didn’t matter. I was her long lost friend. I’d bend over her wheelchair; she’d place her hands on either side of my face and kiss me right on the mouth. We had no shame.

She was from New York City, a bohemian hippie who wore full-flowing gauze skirts, peasant tops, open toe sandals and no bra way before it was popular. She wore her hair long, sometimes pinned up and sometimes flowing around her shoulders. She colored it a whore red and put on lipstick to match.

“What’s on tap today?” I’d ask.

“Something stronger than beer I hope,” she’d answer.

Paula had the most beautiful lilting voice and sang so sweetly that those who happened to catch a note, stopped mid-stride and turned to her, waiting for the melody to continue.  She studied classical music at Juilliard when she was a girl and gave voice lessons for a fee when she graduated.

She was married five or six times. I asked her once why so many and she said, “Why would anyone stop at just one when there are so many to choose from?  I’d have lived with them all, but my mother insisted I marry. She was so old fashioned.” Each of her children was fathered by a different man. Her babies scattered over the world and sent her letters, cards and packages from exotic places.

She had the tiniest feet and danced wildly upon them, swinging her thin hips and tossing her head back and from side to side, smiling behind that curtain of red hair. Her snapping green eyes sparkled with mischief. She was game for any adventure and we took several.

One cold December we bundled in black velvet capes over satin dresses and attended a gala at the theater in town. It was an Opera. I’d never been to one, wasn’t sure I’d like it, but Paula assured me I’d fall in love. At ninety, in her three inch heels, tottering at my side, a purple chapeau affixed in a jaunty angle with a fancy rhinestone hat pin on her head, Paula sparkled. Her glitter and glow put everyone else to shame that night. I can still hear her toe tapping to the music, and feel her small fingers tightening around mine as she let the music take her into another world. She was right. I did fall in love that night, but not with the Opera. I fell in love with her.

I can only imagine that my red headed Paula came into this world on the notes of a song, because on Monday, she took her last breath to the music of Vivaldi, another red head with a passion for music.

 

Antonio Vivaldi: Opera”ARGIPPO” RV 697, Act 2 – Aria (Zanaida) “Io son rea dell’onor mio.”