Apr 7, 2015


Tuesday in Cottonwood, Arizona

The high today is going to be 72. There is always a cool breeze out back on Marilyn's patio and backyard. I go out there with Missy, the Cocker Spaniel. Yesterday she got very excited in the morning, I knew something was up that her and Marilyn were accustomed to. I knew something was happening outback, when I went to the sliding door to let Missy out, there were 5 large black cows on the other side of Marilyn's property grazing the desert. They were eating a spiny tall, bright green grass. One of the cows was eating from the small trees on the property. I was surprised at this whimsical, unexpected visit. I have a photo of the cows, I will post them later today. Missy was every excited, she ran back and forth and barked at all the cows. They seemed to be familiar with her and hardly moved when she barked protecting her turf. Marilyn said the cows belong to the man who owns the property, apparently a large expansive parcel of land behind Marilyn's house. The cows are part of the neighborhood landscape.

Yesterday we made the drive into Phoenix, actually the Scottsdale area where the Mayo Clinic offices are. It was a bright, sunny, clear day. I am driving a top of the line Camry rental car, Marilyn enjoyed the ride. We had wonderful conversation, I am still amazed by her memory, it's sharp, sharp, sharp. We met one of Marilyn's friends, Kevin, for lunch before the appointment. And in a later post I will detail what Kevin shared with us about his dog, Gracie's rattle snake training.

I've only been to the Mayo Clinic twice. Once in Rochester, Minnesota when my DAD had his prostate cancer surgery, and once in Jacksonville, Florida when my DAD had follow up care the year before he passed. And this visit in Scottsdale yesterday certainly was like the other two. The Mayo clinic staff is wonderful, organized, efficient, there are always people around to help, answer questions, the waiting areas are well appointed, spacious, they make you feel as comfortable as is possible in a medical setting. There was even a beautiful fountain in the lobby and a grand piano with a person playing for everyone's enjoyment. We arrived about 45 minutes early for the appointment so we had time to continue our visit.

Hospitals are and will possible always be triggers for me. Emotions come back, memories marshall themselves to the front of my heart and mind and yesterday was no different. Marilyn and I were covering all topics when we were in the waiting area, including her memories of visiting my MOM at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, when my MOM was there for her treatment for ovarian cancer.

Marilyn shared that she had driven from Iowa to Rochester in a friends's car, a MUSTANG. And that she took my MOM out for coffee and they rode around Rochester, Minnesota in a Mustang, so my MOM could get a break from the hospital setting. Marilyn commented that it would take them one or two hours to drink one or two cups of coffee, and that my MOM was always thinking of "her children" back home. Marilyn said the only thing she could think of most of the time, "was getting back to Barstow so she could be with her children."

Marilyn shared stories about their time in Rochester when they were roommates, Marilyn said that my MOM was one of the nicest people she ever met, "she was like a sister to me." In the big circle that is LIFE, certainly the friendship between Marilyn and my Mother is a testament of the bond, connection and love that can happen between friends.

From Rochester, MN, my family moved to Panama and was there for 16 years. Marilyn did not visit Panama. But the day we arrived back in the US when we moved to Barstow, Marilyn was the person at LAX waiting for us with her station wagon. At that time Marilyn and her husband John lived in Bakersfield. Marilyn was then and continues to be today, a person who is confident, sure of herself and practical. And as I sit in her office, TV room, she has a sign on her bookshelf that reads, "I am proud to be a Conservative Republican." She won't even let me make the coffee in the morning.

There is no need for fuss or fancy when it comes to Marilyn. What I remember most about her when she stayed at our house in Barstow for an extended period of time when my MOM was at Mayo is that her presence made me feel like a normal kid. She filled the air with a crisp confidence that made my all my fears, confusion, anger, and sadness about my Mom being sick, take a rest in my daily life, so I could have a sense of normalcy. Because Ana was in college during this time, Marilyn and I shared the room at our house in Barstow, that Ana and I shared.

And here we are fast forward 43 years later. I am honored to be in the company of such a wonderful person and dear friend of my parents, especially my Mom.