The sun glows through the trees shining directly onto Michael’s Memorial Tomb that houses his ashes. Mine will be placed next to his when the day arrives. But for now I’m as busy as I’ve ever been with daily chores, writing and activities.
For years I’ve been having a daily conversation with an old literary friend. However his last message was “Oh shut up!” He’s always been rude… We both are. We laugh when speaking of others, but to shut me up pissed me off.
“You started it,” he wrote. Started what? That’s what I used to tell my mother when I was a six-year-old, tattle-tailing on my brother.
I can still feel the sting on my cheek from Noel’s slap, as I sat on top of the stove in our kitchen at 131 Patton Avenue, swinging my legs in a circles like a bicycle. “Fuck it!” I said. At thirteen, I was showing off for one of his rich Princeton Country Day School friends. Did it teach me a lesson?
“Not really” but, in away it did. I learned to always be careful who I say ‘fuck’ in front of. But the older I got the less important it is to me. It’s fun shocking people saying fuck out loud makes people pay attention.
I’ve never been careful about much of anything, just go my own way, singing a merry tune. Having Dad’s approval helped me believe in myself. His words gave me courage to do pretty much anything I wanted and have taken me on a long adventure.
But these days at my age, I realize, I’m almost irrelevant – but I like speaking the truth as I see it, it gives me power. When L told my nephew to read his book, not mine, because his book speaks the truth. Blue Melody true, hmmm? What he forgot to remember is that there are many truths within each episode in life, not just one, not just his. I ignore him. Years ago he bought me gifts to show me off, but never encouraged or appreciated, my talents. Men just don’t get it sometimes. They think it’s either their way or the highway. But happily the sun’s still shining; it’s another beautiful day.
I’m 82-years-old today, it’s hard to believe I got here. I’m waiting for Christmas, which is right around the corner. Where’s the snow? Do I miss it? No. I grew up in New Jersey. Ice and icicles can be beautiful, but not when one gets stuck driving home from the Pennsylvania Railroad Station after completing a day’s work in NYC. Walking home with snow reaching my knees, my feet turning into blocks of ice, I don’t miss that.
No Christmas tree this year. Instead, my friend Jose cuts a branch from my evergreen outside my front door. I decorate it with little white plastic dogs wearing red Santa outfits, I’ve kept in storage for years. Throwing a handful of sparkles, and hanging a couple of bright colored balls with lights, and “voila“, my Christmas tree. It’s pretty and cheerful and smells great.
Isai, Jose’s eight-year-old son, doesn’t seem interested in Christmas much anymore. He’s got his mom’s house reeling with a fiesta given by one of his seven older sisters. Being the first boy he’s spoiled, but he’s still a spark in my life. He enjoys visiting and sitting at my computer and clicking on Youtube. He dances and sings along with his favorite songs. He’s rhythmical….and with me being an old rhythm dancer, we connect. He shows me a new step, and I copy him as best I can. Yesterday, I tried to do the grapevine he was demonstrating, but he hooks his feet back further behind than I’m used to. I twisted my ankle, not bad…. He does somersaults and handstands, things I used to be good at.
Monday, November 28, 2016… almost Christmas. Thanksgiving’s over… I had so much food on my plate: cranberries with orange zest, brussel sprouts, turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes, plus a wonderful green salad with avocado and balsamic vinaigrette. It all got mixed up and I couldn’t finish. Jose and Isai helped create the dinner. In fact they did everything… the dishes, as well as cooking and stirring and clearing off the table. Jose even polished the silver. And Isai poured champagne for each of us.
My sobrina, niece Catherine and husband James drove from Phoenix for Thanksgiving to meet me. Catherine is the youngest daughter of my half-sister Cynthia, who I only met twice. She was 20 years older and had a different mother. My mom was Blanche Bianca Beven from Sri Lanka. Cynthia’s mom was Adelaide from England. She was my dad’s first wife, his landlady when he was studying theology at Trinity College Dublin. I met Cynthia a couple of times so spending Thanksgiving with her youngest daughter was a lark. I’d been looking for relatives on my dad’s side of the family for years. My brother, son, mom and dad are all in heaven.
I’m lucky to have a wonderful young man friend. He’s handsome too, reminds me of Marlon Brando, my favorite. Not only by looks, but by the way he mumbles and acts, kinda macho – dirty torn T-shirts and all. Actually he’s spiffed up these days. But he has that rough and tumble sex appeal you’d never notice unless you look real hard. What’s that saying about seeing life through rose colored glasses? I guess that’s me these days:-)
Six years ago I was invited to a book fair in Guadalupe Valley at Rancho Viejo. Not anxious to go alone, I invited Jose, who was working for me, clearing the yard. We drove to Oscar’s Store across the arroyo, and I turned my car keys over to him. He’s been chauffeuring me around ever since. He doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Spanish, so we get along real well. We both spend time listening and learning from each other when we have the patience. It’s good living in the moment with what’s happening now… not what happened yesterday. I love looking out the window and dreaming about what is.
At Rancho Viejo that afternoon Jose walked me here and there holding my hand, brought me a sausage roll, cake, chocolates and a glass of wine. He was a fine companion. Since then he’s become my loyal caretaker, a warm, kind, generous and loving friend. He feeds the animals: the chickens and el Nino, my horse. Isai collects eggs and fills the water bucket. I feed and care for my four dogs: two strays, Pansy and Chica. Jack, a terrier, and my fifteen-year-old Border Collie, I’ve had Tootsie since birth.
I’m alone except for my animals and Jose. He hangs out taking care of me and my ranch. We watch TV together, listening to the news in Spanish and English. It’s also fun when he goes home. I love being alone. I like getting up running around getting a little exercise before going to bed. That’s the reason I got animals, first out of love for four legged creatures, and then so lazy me wouldn’t sit on the couch and read The New Yorker, all day. By the way that’s how I learned to write my book, The Philosopher’s Daughter, a memoir, from reading The New Yorker. There’s never been a better teacher. To this day I wait eagerly each week for my copy to arrive. There’s a lot of reading to keep me entranced.
Jose arrived moments ago, and is bringing me a cup of coffee. He’s ready to clean the water buckets and since it’s Monday we’ll drive to Santa Anita to the swap meet and pick up a pizza for breakfast…
Tomorrow is the second week of December… time goes by quickly these days… It’s almost 2017… Wow!
Send me a note dear reader, and tell me how you’re feeling about the coming of Christmas, the New Year… Are you ready? Tree up and all?