Celebrating Marilyn 

Sunday, February 10, 2002
Suburbia, California 


Our neighbors' big day was HUGE (see yesterday's entry), but our day was hardly over.

We drove straight down the freeway to Long Beach, to the Naples Rib Company to meet our "oldest" friends in California:  beautiful Kathy and her handsome groom, Darryl; sweethearts Don and Becky, a very special pair; our food connoisseur, Bob and his stockbroker and work friends; Jeanne and Ray, vintage car aficionados; musically talented couple, CJ and Marlys, and their banjo-playing friend; and Paula, a former neighbor of the guest of honor.

And oh yes, Marilyn.  Our Purple Lady.  Our Purple Madonna. Our guest of honor.

Marilyn was in town from Oregon, and we, her buds, were gathering 'round to be with her and celebrate her.  Celebrating Marilyn is one of our favorite things to do, as celebrating her is celebrating all the good things in life: long-lasting friendships, camaraderie, craziness, wackiness, spontaneity, lovingness, and joie de vivre.

Funny, how we keep gravitating back to Marilyn's old stomping grounds, in spite of the fact that it is the farthest distance away for most in the group. Right around the corner from the rib joint is her former digs, a charming pink bungalow at the water's edge in Naples, where she once hosted countless dinners and barbecues and held court on her front deck. 

Ours is a motley group. Most are DH's former colleagues from his college department.  Like Marilyn, some have since retired or are soon-to-be-retired; others have moved on to other positions within the college and without. DH is the only one of the group who's still there.  Last in, last out? Others of us are hangers-on, part of the group by fortuitous association.

When I lost my mother in 1982, Marilyn stepped right in and snuggled me right under her maternal wing.  She was born in the same year as my mother, same month, and just a few days apart. I think she was destined to be my hanai -- adoptive by Aloha -- mother. 

Oprah has her Maya Angelou.  I have my Marilyn.

Loving, zestfully fun, affectionate, bubbling with life and full of adventure, she is the dream mother. She's an electrified Donna Reed and The Beaver's mom with the purple beads and the shocking pink heels instead of the conventional pearls and conservative pumps, all rolled into one. 

She's a designer, a poet, an artist, a fashion plate, a bon vivant, a vagabond, a world traveler, a lecturer, a former professor, a confidante, a loyal friend, a free spirit and a gigantic love of a woman.

Before we ever met, Marilyn, a mother of three in Southern California and I, a little girl in Hawai`i, were already sharing a consuming passion for purple.  In third grade, I fell in love with the most hideous looking plaid dress because it was purple. I wore it so often that my mother threatened to hide it from me. She was greatly relieved when I finally outgrew it.

How's that for destiny? The poem, "Warning" was, I swear, cosmically written for Marilyn and me in mind.  

Our first sight of Marilyn, last night, was priceless. She was ravishing in her gorgeous outfit, gloriously purple from head to toe. A vision to behold.  My eyes danced all over her, enjoying every detail of her purple splendor.

Once we arranged ourselves around the table in the back room that we had all to our rambunctious selves, I noticed that she had a large shopping bag at her feet, a bag so large, it was impossible not to notice it.

I assumed it was her "overnight" bag. When Marilyn's in town, she sleeps all over the place.  Now, that didn't come out right. Lest you get the wrong idea, Marilyn hops from friend's to friend's homes for overnighters.  With many friends in the Southland, Marilyn is always in transit. One night here, another there.  

Not sure if that still came out right.

Just then, the room exploded in song.  Vigorously playing the tuba and banjo, respectively, CJ -- Marilyn's son-in-law -- and his duet singing partner had popped in to surprise us before their professional gig, down the way. Wow!  A surprise that delighted every one of us.  Then, another surprise.  Marlys, Marilyn's daughter got up and sang.  Her debut!  And Marilyn's girl can sing, adroitly weaving beautiful harmonies with her husband, CJ.

CJ was Mr. Mardi Gras, tossing out shiny bead necklaces out into our crowd.  What gaiety!  What fun!  All so totally spontaneous.

After the unexpected concert, Marilyn reached down for her bag.  As it turned out, the large bag was not Marilyn's "overnight" bag after all, but a bag with a gift for me.  

And that's exactly what I said, "For me?" as she handed it to me, urging me to take a peek inside.  Wondering what was the occasion, I was momentarily flustered.  This was a party for Marilyn, after all.

Well, from the tissues, I pulled out the best un-birthday gift that I have EVER received. Want to see it?  

>> Here it is.

I can never thank her enough for all that has gone into creating it. It took her two whole years to make it!  I've never received something so detailed and personalized, so lovingly made. And practical, too.  

"Just throw it in the washer and dry it in the drier," she instructed.  

"Won't it shrink?"

"No, it'll be just fine."

How do I begin to say thanks for such a heart-filled gift?  Words are inadequate, although this is a clumsy attempt. Hmm, maybe, like Marilyn, I can make something for her...see you later.

<some time later>  And voila!  I'm back and here it is: 

>> Celebrating Marilyn:  A web photo album

I love you, Marilyn.  
I will wear your beautiful sweater often.
I will feel your energy whenever I do.
And I will think loving thoughts of you.
You are the mother of my dreams,
my  purple passion dreams.


"Life is a Gift."

With a grateful and full  heart, 
Author Unknown

P.S.  If you would like to share a portion of yourself with words, in response to this journal entry, you may do it here.  

 "The only gift is a portion of thyself..."
Ralph Waldo Emerson


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This web journal was created on a September Morn, 
September 29, 2001
September Morn 2002