Daily Prompt: BFFs: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from the person you’re the closest to?
“I’m giving you my oil paints. It’s my legacy to you.”
“It’s kind of early to talk about legacies, Sally.” She’s dressed up, leaning on her walker.
“Well, I don’t oil paint any more, I’m not doing those big paintings.”
“I’m very honored, Sal.” There in front of me was a real Art Bin (I use fishing-tackle boxes). Inside a variety of oil paints and brushes.
We talk about oil painting, what’s great about it, about its versatility, the colors. Then she and I go to the kitchen where she eats a small bowl of yogurt and takes some meds. We’re going out to lunch, but the meds she’s on mess up her digestive system so before eating a real meal, she likes to get probiotics into her system. She’s like this. I always found it annoying and precious, but she’s my friend and godnose how she sees me some times.
She has recently been diagnosed with ALS. She’s denying this although she has a classic litany of symptoms. She’s not young; she’s 74. I’ve known her 30 years. She was my boss when I first moved to San Diego. I learned much of what I know about teaching from her, for example, I learned to run a student centered classroom from her adamant insistence that was the best way to teach a language. We’ve had ups and downs over the years, of course, but no one has ever been more staunchly on my side than Sally. I have not always been aware of it and I have not always understood it, but that is the case.
Finally we begin the complex process of getting into the car. She’s driving. The wheelchair is in back of her Prius. When we get to the restaurant, I help Sally into the wheel chair and take her into a restaurant in which we’ve enjoyed, probably, a hundred great Mexican meals (Ranchos in Ocean Beach). We talk, order our meal, talk some more. Finally we are ready to leave and the process repeats itself. It takes a couple stages for her to get back into the car. I use the trick we used with my dad. Wheelchair to walker to car. She thinks I’m a genius. I’m not. I’ve just been down this road before.
Back at her house I do a little work on her computer cleaning the cache and the drive. This is something that has not been done in the 10 years she’s had her computer. I tell her there is a new version of Windows and I can get it for her at a teacher’s discount. We decide that’s a good idea. It’s time for me to go. We look at each other across 30 years of time. I see the 40 year old woman who was my boss, a lively, artistic, political, passionate woman.
“Remember when you told me we could choose our own family?”
“You’re my sister, Sal. ”
“I love you, Martha, my sister.”
Poem a Day, 16
Alles geben die Götter, die unendlichen,
Ihren Lieblingen ganz,
Alle Freuden, die unendlichen,
Alle Schmerzen, die unendlichen, ganz. Goethe
All is given by the gods, the eternal ones
To those they love, whole.
All joy, unending
All suffering, unending, whole.