Today I walked over to my friend Tootie’s house. We have known each other for 38 years, she is about 20 years my senior. The mom of one of my best friends since age 15, I met her the day after I met him.
I have always been welcome to “pop in” for tea. Tootie’s son and I have had an interesting and sometimes intensely bizarre and rewarding friendship, which is another story.
Tootie is like no one I have ever met. My own mom is a wonderful woman who taught me a lot about life. She worked from the time I can remember. From her I learned about independence , how to take care of myself , a great work ethic and all of my other values. I love and respect her always.
Ours was a home of Maxwell House coffee, Lipton Tea, and Sara Lee cheesecake, a dog and a cat and a mom and a dad and a brother. We experienced some complexities and challenges but had a pretty good run overall. Very standard in many ways.
When I was 18 I moved from the tiny town I lived to the bigger town that Tootie lived. (It is actually the town in which I reside now, I came home through the back door 30 years later in 2010.)
The first apartment in which I lived was a real dump. My friends affectionately referred to it as “the stucco fleabag flop house.” It was the 70’s -we described everything in irreverent and outrageous ways!
The building has since been torn down. It was my first taste of life on my own. I had a mattress that doubled as a bed and a couch , I bent it up against the wall during the day. It was covered with a brown fake fun fur bedspread. At night it was where I slept. Eventually I saved up for a genuine Naugahyde couch and chair.
A couple of blocks away was Tootie’s house. Tootie was the first person to introduce me to house plants ( I would end up having 44 of them), she taught me about herbs ,how to grow them, and about exotic tea, way before it was chic or mainstream. Tootie had a garden and “bought local” way before that was ” in vogue ” too.
At Tootie’s house she was the mom, there was a hard working dad ,two boys and two girls. I became a regular fixture there. I grew close to all of them . Mostly her house , along with my friend Karen’s house, were my soft spots to fall, when independence didn’t look so appealing. ( Karen’s house is worth a blog post too at sometime).
Tootie lost her husband two years ago, she lost her son, my best friend’s younger brother, (who was also MY dear friend) two weeks and two days ago.
So it is finally my turn to RETURN the favor. Loaded with Chamomile , Lemon, Apple, Raspberry and Green Tea in my pockets, I “popped in” for tea with Tootie today .
Company and memories can be a balm for many wounds. She and I know a lot about each other’s rough areas. She accepts me always, warts and all. I love her deeply, and will offer to her tea and sympathy, love and conversation for as long as she needs.
Walking the two and a half blocks to that same house, I was the 53 year old woman that I have become, most edges smooth and round feeling poised and almost eloquent . On the way home I was age 15 again -raw, rough, happy, sad, and amazed at my good fortune. Knowing it is a gift to have people in my life who “knew me when” and can see me now. Lucky to have someone who I can see clearly and respect immensely .
Dear Marty ,
You are surely where the good ones go after life on this earth is done. I hope you can see me now. Please know that I will “pop in” for tea and anything else she needs.
I love you both so much.