Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Gratitude: Part two of a bunch

My grandfather died. Don't worry, it was almost 5 years ago.

Background part 2 is that my mom's house looks like this. Well, except that where that woman's yard is empty and neglected Mama Kizz's yard is a riot (S.W.A.T. not hilarious) of flowers and statuary and bird baths.

Five years ago the house was pretty bad but had paths and my bed was clear and you could use the shower and probably make toast. But just barely. Being there made everything a little harder and it totally freaked the dog out because she was constantly being ambushed by cats or having to back up. The paths weren't wide enough for a passing lane and dogs really aren't fond of the backing up.

Papa Kizz's Pop died very suddenly. I had to go home, I had to go right then and my brain was scrambled. I went to Queen Bee's.

I've known Queen Bee since I was 5 months old. We lived next door to each other, then across town, then she moved to VA then I moved to NYC and then she moved back to our hometown right around the same time that I thought I might have to, too.

It was, yeesh, I have no idea when it was, maybe 9 years ago, probably more like 10 or 11. Her mother, Nanny, had just had 2 massive strokes and someone needed to move home to help and it turned out that she was the right person. My mother was having a lot of little strokes. A lot of strokes, people. Remind me to tell you about the seminal Thanksgiving moment with that one, will you?

I went home for a month and Queen Bee came home for good. My mother is back on her feet, Queen Bee's mom is in a local retirement home and no longer knows our names, although I believe she still knows who we are to her. During the month that I was home it was one of those crazy growing up times. We took our mothers on outings and walked around the mall whispering to each other about them while they giggled and hooted and generally broke all the rules. Change who was driving and our hairstyles and they were the same outings we went on when we were toddlers. Remind my mom to tell you that story about Harry's Department Store one. more. time.

Ever since the fateful trip 5 years ago I have stayed at Queen Bee's house when I got to the hometown. She has a lovely 3 bedroom house for her and King Bee and the 2 younger bees. I came that one time and stayed for a week, came back to New York for a week and a half and came back again for a week so we could bury my grandfather before the ground froze. I have called her 2 days before I plan to come home and she's said OK. I've stayed there at Christmas when her whole family was there. When I go I pretty much pack a book, my phone and a change of underwear. She has a toothbrush for me, we share sweaters, shirts, deodorant, shoes (oh, thank god, the shoes!), hair products, everything.

When I wanted to restore a chair I inherited she had a wood restorer, she knew the people who would make new cushions, she transported the chair and she stored the chair and she probably paid for big chunks of the chair until I got home and wrote a check.

Christmas? I bring presents, she provides gift bags.

About 7 years ago I got a job which was the first time I would be supporting myself with full time work acting. It was in Michigan. I whipped to NH on a magic carpet of excitement and surprised Queen Bee on a Friday afternoon. In the breakfast nook of her old condo I told her my big news. She cried. She was going to miss me that much. I had no idea. I mean, really, none. We've known each other over 35 years and much of that has been form a distance. I just never guessed.

That, the part about 35 years, is what I'm so intensely grateful for. To know that someone likes and respects you even though they've known you since you were pedalling your Big Wheel as fast as your stubby legs could handle and still not catching up.

Queen Bee is a hard working and wonderful one of the following: daughter, sister, wife, mother, assistant, homeowner, neighbor and, of course, friend. She's a good person. She's a great person. I suspect I will never catch up but I am enormously grateful for the way she has never left me behind and she keeps looking back over her shoulder and encouraging me to pedal faster.

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