I Love Lucy

Monday, November 12, 2001


"Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself 
to get anything done in this world." 

~ Lucille Ball, rheumatoid arthritis sufferer

Last night, I went to bed with a happy heart. Earlier in the evening, while channel-surfing, I landed on the "I Love Lucy's 50th Anniversary Special."   Learning that I shared the half-century mark with the TV show, I Love Lucy, I spent an hour with a comically-gifted old friend, whose show was being honored with a TV special.

Old friends are gold,
new friends are silver.

I love Lucy.  Yes, I do.

So this morning, I want to thank the alter ego, Lucy Ricardo, and the person, Lucille Ball Arnaz Morton, with this journal entry: 

I first "met" Lucy on the "I Love Lucy" black-and-white TV reruns as a 5th grader. Although the show is as old as I am, I never saw the original broadcasts (October 15, 1951 -  September 24, 1961), as TV reception (and TVs) didn't arrive in our corner of the island of Hawai`i until 1962. We had one channel, Channel 9.  That was it. Thank goodness, it was a CBS affiliate, and I was gifted daily with I Love Lucy reruns with its full doses of lightheartedness, farcical plots, and broad physical humor.

To this day, I find these reruns irresistible. Whenever I happen to channel-surf onto an episode of I LOVE LUCY, I turn into the little girl who was mesmerized by her wit, wackiness and wisdom.

I watch her with my full attention as I did back then: I plop right in front of the TV, cross my legs, rest my elbows on my knees,  hold my chin between my two hands with curled fingers, lean forward, and laugh my fool head off.

"I must say I find television very educational.  
The minute someone turns it on, 
I read a good book.  
~ Groucho Marx

Like Groucho, I read more good books than I watch television. Watching TV with my full attention is rare these days, yet I Love Lucy reruns still manage to seize it and I'll set aside a good book to watch Lucy. 

Small wonder that I watched last night's special with a strong sense of a family reunion.  Not only did I return to the Ricardo apartment, but visited Lucille Ball's birthplace and hometown, Jamestown, NY, and the house in which she grew up as a little girl, surrounded by fragrant lilac bushes. 

and the whole world laughs with you.
and you cry alone. 

I just learned today that she grew up with the intense pain of childhood arthritis, as I did.  Just as my Grandmother Satsuma did, Lucille's mother devoted her evenings to massaging her legs to assuage the pain. As little girls, to the world, we chose laughing over crying, no small task when all you feel is pain. I learned to laugh in spite of the pain, with Lucy's help.

I love to laugh, not at life, but with it, just as Lucy did.  She taught me to see the humor in the mundane and through the pain, to see life from a wacky perspective.

She was supremely funny. Last night, I repeatedly burst out laughing as I relived precious memories.  There was Lucy, stomping grapes in an Italian wine vat; Lucy, peekabooing with actor William Holden; Lucy, with her full-on, loud bawling, and Lucy, with her mobile face and the saucer eyes.

That face. That impossibly elastic mug, an unabridged dictionary of human emotions. 

I think I can never be completely saddened, as long as my Lucy memories endure.  My lips curl up in a smile just thinking of her.


"What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us." 
~ Helen Keller

Her gifts to me have been far-reaching.

The episode about Lucy's and Ethel's foray into the work world at the chocolate factory gets funnier with age -- my age, that is.  Stuffing themselves with chocolates, they barely manage to keep up with the conveyor belt, when the kitchen supervisor yells, "Speed it up!"  Yiiiiiiiiiiiiiikes.  

When I feel life's pains and overwhelms, I think of Lucy and her chocolate overwhelm. I laugh, the pains and overwhelms diminish, the storm clouds lift, and life lightens up. 

With Ricky Ricardo, I sang along with the theme song, everyday:

I love Lucy, and she loves me. 
We're as happy as two can be. 
Sometimes we quarrel but then, 
How we love making up again. 
Lucy kisses like no one can. 
She's my Mrs.and I'm her man. 
And life is heaven, you see 
'Cause I love Lucy, 
Yes, I love Lucy 
And Lucy loves me!

(To hear Ricky singing the theme song, 
click here and scroll all the way down

"Life is heaven, you see..."  I sang those words, everyday, brainwashed by them, you might even say, in a good way.  I came to believe in those words, episode after episode, rerun after rerun. Believing them, I made those words come true for me. 

Lucy made me laugh aloud, and I dropped the quietly giggling island girl routine, choosing to laugh aloud with my whole being. You were the master of faces, and I dropped the placid, inscrutable face, choosing an animated face, alive with expression. 

Lucy taught me that I could be anyone, anything, including being the family ham, past and present. You showed me that quirks, foibles, pain, and daffiness can be assets in life. When Lucille Ball tired of the grind of a weekly series and wished to spend more time with your children, she left at the top of her game, when the show was still No. 1. She remained true to herself, teaching me that life is full of options and the road less taken is sometimes the only one headed for long-term happiness.

Lucy never soured with age. She remained lithe, slim and trim. There was so much sweetness to her.  I thank her for putting some of it in my heart.

I LOVE you,  Lucy!  I'm here for the ride, and I'll keep looking for you.  Life is heaven, no matter what, and you are angelically keeping me laughing here on Earth.You live on in reruns around the world, bringing levity and love at a time when we can really use some.

Last night, I went to bed, chuckling over Lucy's  swigging of the alcohol-laced health-tonic, Vitameatavegamin, and her sousy slurring, "Are you poopular at parties...hic!"

Thanks for the memories, Lucy. And thank you, Lucie Arnaz Luckinbill (née 1951) and Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV (aka Desi Arnaz, Jr., née 1953) for sharing your sweet Mama with me. 

>> Episode Guide

>> CBS' favorite episodes

>> Sitcom Online's synopsis of the series 

"Life is a Gift."

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
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