My friend Elizabeth, who is an interior designer,
called me yesterday. At 85, she's facing major surgery
in a few weeks: removal of a kidney. She is recently
widowed. Nonetheless, our conversation, as usual,
was punctuated with raucous laughter and sharp
witticisms -- Elizabeth has a wicked sense of humor.
And she still works -- her current client is an affluent
woman with several properties, who regularly flies
Elizabeth down to California to consult on the design
process in a home.
I met E. seven years ago -- she was one of my first
customers on the opening day at Two Tartes. The
atmosphere there was a bit frantic, and we didn't know
that we had accidentally turned the coffee pot off.
Of course, E., perfectly assembled in her attire,
ordered a cup of coffee. She sat down, took a sip,
stood up and placed the cup back on the counter,
and said, "It's not. Quite. Hot."
I thought, oh brother, this one is going to be trouble.
Her companion, a wren-thin nervous man with grey wisps
of longish hair, fidgeted outside with a cigarette.
(Just before lunch on that, thankfully, quiet first day,
my business partner cut her fingers deeply enough
to require stitches, and fled to the ER.)
But what followed was not trouble at all, but the beginnings
of two friendships, with two regular customers who daily
added their own particular flavors to the quirky clientele
we were quickly developing.
M., the companion, was E.'s business partner, and their
office was in the crumbling Rainier Cold Storage building
across the street.
Yesterday E. came to me with a special request: she's afraid
she won't survive the surgery, and asked if I'd help her find
a poem (or write one) to her daughter (her only child)
to thank her for the love and support she's given her mother
throughout the years.
Oh hell. This is a really difficult task. I'm not the kind of poet
that easily writes something on-demand. (I don't come with
a remote control on-demand button, alas.) But I'm honored
to be asked, and will get to work searching for something
appropriate out there in the Land of Poetry.
I'm l lucky to have E. as a friend. She's a substitute mom
who will talk about anything. And I mean anything.
She's a dear friend. We get each others jokes.
She inspires me. I'm thankful for these past seven years,
wish it was seventeen years, or twenty-seven.
But I'll take the seven.