Thursday, July 8, 2010

July 8th

Today is July 8th, 2010.

6 years ago today my mother died.

2 years ago today my father died.

Exactly 4 years apart.

Mom was 83 when she died. Dad, 95. We had them a good long time. But not long enough. Never long enough.

You'd think that - since they died 'old' - the pain of missing them might be somewhat lessened. Of course I don't know what the pain is like when you lose a parent earlier but I can tell you that the lose of a parent at any age is heart-breaking.

I walk Bailey every evening past a house where an elderly couple sit on the porch and greet every passerby. They look nothing like my parents (although I have the suspicion that the Mrs. might be suffering from Parkinson's as did my mother) and yet each time we speak my heart aches a bit more than normal. Because they're old? Maybe. Because they're together and I sense they are always together? Perhaps. But I know and see a lot of elderly people every day who don't make my heart ache and magnify my loss. What is it about these two I wonder. Maybe it's just the passing of time.

Not long before Dad died we had a very funny interaction related to a book I'd loaned him. He was really put out about the ending. When I arrived one Sunday afternoon Dale, my sister, met me at the door and said "HE wants a word with you". She refused to tell me what was going on but she had a sly smile so I knew it was going to be a good one. Like the time he harranged me over and over about the headband I was wearing. My headband he hated, Dale's eyebrow peircing got ignored!

But I digress. That particular day he made me read the last few pages of the book out loud and then give him my interpretation (which was the polar opposite of his own). He never did agree with how I had interpreted it and he never quite forgave me for an ending he really didn't like. I didn't WRITE the book, I told him - I simply loaned it to you! Didn't matter. I was the conduit and he was pissed.

Because he was 95 you're thinking? No, because he was - had always been - wonderfully eccentric. And this exchange came to mind recently when I finished reading the next book by that same author. OMG, I thought to myself, thank god he's dead because he would have HATED me over this ending!!!

They've been together again now for 2 years - married for 63, together in eternity. Those 4 years without her were hell for him - although my sister and brother-in-law filled every one of those days with love and laughter it just wasn't the same without her.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. Miss you always. Love you forever.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

That's right ..... we bad.

Many (many) years ago I worked with a girl named Vera. Her ancestry was Russian and Vera in Russian it looked like (using the alphabet I was familiar with) B-E-P-A. And so her nickname was Bepa. Mine was Neecy. A spin on my real name. So there we were - Bepa and Neecy. And what an unlikely duo we were.

I was about 27, she a bit younger. She was single and care free. I'd been married since I was 20 and would, over the course of your friendship, become pregnant with twins. Said twins now the same age I was when I met Bepa. So this is a tale of long ago.

She was the free spirt I wasn't. The free spirit I probably wanted to be. I'd left my parent's home to move into my marriage home. She'd left her parents home as a very young teenager and managed on her own for years without their - or anyone's - help. She drove a beat up old VW beetle. I can still remember looking down and seeing the road rush by beneath my feet through the rust that was holding the car together. I was the law abiding worrywart always concerned about the possibility of a parking ticket when she parked that thing wherever she could squeeze it in. 'No Parking' sign? Who cares. Curb? No worries. And oddly enough I don't ever recall getting a ticket.

She introduced me to Sangria and salsa. Hot hot hot. OMG I remember the first time we went to her favorite Mexican restaurant. There on the table was a bowl of salsa and some tortilla chips. 'It's pretty hot' she said. 'Oh, I like spicy food' I replied and took some. 'Pretty hot' was her euphemism for excruciating pain I think. She laughed like hell as I gasped and tried to drown it with water - a useless attempt I came to realize.

God, she could laugh. We laughed together all the time. That's what I remember most about our friendship. The laughter. And the acceptance. Because there wasn't anyone quite so opposite as me from Vera. And yet she accepted me just as I was. True friendship.

You couldn't tie her down and so after a while she left the hospital where we both worked and spent a year in Australia. I sent her 'care packages' of things she loved and couldn't find there. Peanut butter was a key item as I recall. Vegemite just didn't cut it for her!

And then she spent some time in Hollywood. I don't remember her wanting to be 'a star' but she was in Hollywood and when she was there she met Richard Pryor.

One of our favorite movies was Stir Crazy, with Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder. We loved that movie and were forever quoting lines from it (remember, we WERE in our 20's!). Our favorite line was from the scene where Richard & Gene were going to jail. 'What are you doing?" Gene asks Richard as they're on their way to the holding pen. "I'm gettin' bad' replies Richard. And so they both 'get bad'. And their bad was hysterically funny. 'That's right' says's Gene to the group in the cell 'we bad'.

And 'that's right, we bad' became our slogan, Vera and I.

And so, when she had a chance to meet Richard Pryor Vera asked him to do a 'we bad' for her friend Neecy in Toronto. And he did. I have a 'we bad' vicariously through Vera Maiden.

We lost touch some time after that. Vera returned from her travels and I was pregnant with my boys. The gap between us seemed too large and we drifted apart. But wherever she is today I hope that she has fond memories of our time together as I do
Here's to a wonderful - and far too brief -friendship.

That's right. We bad.