Sunday, June 03, 2007

Did you ever know someone who flitted in and out of your life for so long that you take their presence for granted, and then suddenly you realize 20 years have gone by and how important that person is in your life? Well, I have!

This post is a little mini-shout out to my sister Laura's friend Cathy. Cathy came down from Boston this past weekend to help Laura out with the epic picnic preparations, and during the course of the weekend I could feel all my 20 years of accumulated love for her rolling over me like a wave.

Cathy and Laura were roommates at Tulane and were partners in some hair-raising crimes in the Big Easy. The combination of the World's Fair, lax drinking laws, the lure of New Orleans and being 18 and on their own made for some ker-AZY times!! Cathy moved to Boston and became occupied in raising her big beautiful brood of boys (five of them!), and Laura had various jobs in New Orleans and Los Angeles and around here. Because their lives were so peripatetic, a visit from Cathy was a rare and wonderful thing. Here are some reasons why.

Cathy is a repository of all information practical and common-sense (and thus foreign to our family). Here's an example. You know how when you unscrew the cap of a carbonated drink and if it's too fizzy it will spray all over? Well, until Cathy came into our lives, we thought we were pretty clever to open the bottle over the sink, thus catching 20% of the spray in the sink (and 80% on us). But Cathy showed us (with her never-ending patience and tolerance) that you could unscrew the cap BUT NOT ALL THE WAY to let the fizz escape gradually and thus avert the spraying disaster. Every time I've opened a bottle this way for the past ten or fifteen years and haven't gotten sprayed, I think of her.

Because she has five boys of her own and because she is patient and easy-going and wonderful, Cathy has always been an object of fascination and devotion to Gus. Even when he was little little, he would trail her around, waving Thomas the Train parts at her to play with (which she would) or urging her to watch The Wiggles with him (which she did). Now he is big and during her last visit, she came over to see Gus several times and brought him a Matsuzaka t-shirt and an extremely cool Red Sox cap. How perfectly perfect is that??

Here they are, on our front porch, swapping recipes [she is patiently listening to Master Chef Gus explain how to make something]:

Here they are, playing Battleship (my peace-lovin' lil Quaker's favorite game):

Here they are, feelin' the love:

Now, something I appreciate as much as someone who loves my son is someone who loves my sister. Cathy has been there for sister Laura through thick and thin for the past 20 years, with NO EXCEPTION. She has been there for all of us during our saddest time; her compassion and patience and humor (did I mention that she is HI-larious?!) helped us all through some really bad times. This past year, when my sisters and I felt like maybe we just might drown in grief, when Cathy came around we felt like everything might actually turn out okay. That's the effect she has on the people around her.

Now I'd like to sum up with some perfect pithy comment, but I just can't encapsulate how I feel about this woman in one sentence. I'm just thankful she came into our lives.


Blogger Liz K. said...

There's nothing like loss and grief to separate out the people in your life. My parents' best friends (another married couple) are those people for our family, who have brought so much life and love into our lives. And when my father died, they missed him as much as we did, and still do.

And incidentally, it was she who taught me to knit 25 years ago.

I'm so glad you and your family have a Cathy. Everyone needs one.

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, well I thought this was such a lovely post. As I was reading, i was agreeing with everything and thinking how sweet you are to acknowledge how wonderful Cathy is. Then I got to the second to last paragraph, and now I am wiping away the tears from projectile crying! I am grateful every day that Cathy is such an important part of my life!

I remember us walking towards the World's Fair and I was thinking about how cool my new friend was. Cathy said something humorous and I, very geekily and admiringly, said, "you are the funniest person I know!" She looked at me surprised and said "I think YOU are the funniest person I know!!" And there have been MANY times in the last 23 years where we have been glad that we GET each other (since not everyone does!) Remember?

The shoe party in your dorm room?
Trying to make the humorless Canal Villere checkout people laugh?
Gravy boats?
Our "romantic dates?"
"If you don't let her on this plane, she'll cry. And I'm not kidding."
"The hurricane is in the mud."
"Are you two sisters?"
Draw It As You Like It
You staying "illegally" in my Stadium Place dorm?
Candi and Bambi and BillyBob
The broken toilet seat.
"Um, thats not my tv."
"Yeah, I get it, the bag pings!"
First Class Frank and Why-vonne!
Glow-sticks and the Mennonites!
Our friend Kate?
Many appletinis with our new UCLA friends?
Turn down service?
"I am a princess!"
Kong? Raorrrr!!!

You make me feel like everything is going to be ok. Thank you for being such an amazing friend to me and my family. I love you!

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I didn't mention the bare shoulders!! Wa ha ha!!

9:26 AM  
Blogger Cat said...

The tears……Jordan style. Unstoppable. Uncontrollable.

When I got on the plane to come home I thought to myself “boy, I love that whole family.” I would have stayed forever. Wouldn’t it be just perfect if we could all live on the same block? I am the fortunate one to have all of YOU in MY life. Especially my Laura. I’ll keep her – tears and all. I can call her anytime – and she is there. I can forget to call her and she understands. I can carry on 15 conversations while she is on the phone with me, and she waits. She is patient and kind – like the author of this blog!

Can you believe it’s been 20 years? I didn’t realize we met when we were 7. Boy - time does fly.

Gus is the best friend a girl could have. He writes notes in the driveway offering sweet treats! He goes “out on a limb” for me. He changes clothes twice a day so I can get the full effect of his true love of baseball. He invites me over for play dates. And I love every minute of the time I have with him (and sometimes it’s only minutes – but he can squeeze a great “tour” in). He is fantastic – just like his parents. And so is his aunt for sharing him with me. Being with all of you is always a treat. A vanilla and butterscotch sugar free pudding treat…….enjoyed on a hot spring evening on the front porch of a home that has so much love in it, it will burst (as long as it doesn’t ruin the baseball diamond in the backyard.)

To set the record straight – I was the INNOCENT ONE in New Orleans. In fact, Laura ignored me the first night I met her. Being Italian, I didn’t give up. And she’s been stuck with me ever since. And I love her like a sister. And I love her sisters like sisters. And Uncle Beth like a…..well….like a favorite wiggle.

Thank you for this. I love all of you. I miss all of you. I’m lucky too have all of you in my life.

Love, Natural

p.s. – I didn’t recognize MYSELF with the bare shoulders. “Uncle Rob” will be happy to know that I gave that shirt away after I wore it to a party on Saturday – and my husband said to me “That party was great. The only disaster was that top you had on. Don’t wear it again. It was awful.”

8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG! I can't believe he said that! He's still hoping for the Toni Braxton white jumpsuit!! WA ha ha ha!!!

8:58 PM  
Blogger diana said...

For the record, that was an empirically adorable top. And with the white pants - smashing!

And Liz is right - loss and grief separate the wheat from the chaff, people-wise, in your life. People I thought I could lean on weren't there, and people I didn't expect became my rocks of stability.

7:16 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home