Our neighbors' big day was HUGE
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
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
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,
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.
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?
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.
"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.
later> And voila! I'm
back and here it is:
Marilyn: A web photo album
I love you,
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,
"Life is a Gift."
grateful and full heart,
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.
only gift is a portion of thyself..."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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