Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A "nothing-event" remembered forever

Isn't it odd how we can engage in what would be a completely forgettable act, but remember it for the rest of our lives?

In the late 1980s, Patsy O'Brian and I had a date for lunch at Frederick and Nelson Department store in Aurora Village. She and I had been friends since the early '70s when our husbands introduced us. They had been in grad school together at University of Washington, and her husband, Pat, became one of Jay's closest friends. After Pat died in 1987, Patsy had an especially tough time, not just because of grief for her dear husband, but because of her recently declared 'legally blind' status,the result of Type-1 diabetes. She couldn't leave her house without someone to guide her.

I arrived at her house at our agreed-upon time and rang the doorbell. As usual, she'd asked me just to ring the bell and come on in--the door would be unlocked. When I entered her house, she called to me from the upstairs. "I need your help with something, Sallie. Come on up!" As I entered her bedroom, she was sitting on the edge of the bed, cursing a blue-streak (something she was notorious for). "I can't get this #@&*% earring in," she informed me. "PLEASE help me."

"Sure," I replied and sat down beside her on the bed. I expected it would be a breeze to plop an earring into the pierced hole in her left ear. But it wasn't. I struggled, and fussed, and fumed, and failed. There was just something about someone else's ear . . . the angle of the piercing? the thickness of her earlobe? the curve of the earring itself? I don't know what it was--I'd had no problem helping my daughter a decade-plus earlier when she had her ears pierced in sixth grade. I could NOT get Patsy's earring in. But we went to lunch, anyway and had fun. I drove Patsy home and settled her in--end of story, right? Wrong.

I don't remember what we ate, what we talked about, what we wore. I couldn't even find her house now, if I tried (she departed this earth in the early '90s). But every time I put in my own earrings (and I have several pairs that are difficult to insert for various reasons), I think of Patsy and those few minutes we spent, sitting side by side on her bed. We alternately laughed and fussed (with Patsy spewing forth the unladylike vocabulary she was known for), and, of course, with me profusely apologized for failing at what should have been a simple task.

As long as I live and wear pierced earrings, I will think of Patsy.

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