A precious friendship reappears
There are things—for lack of a better description–precious things, which now are elevated to the status of mementos; things which remained with me, a riddle the universe holds tight. Despite the hare-pin turns, the jagged mountain clevises, or the oceans traversed, this is a welcome conundrum. It is as if I were shaken upside down by my feet, finding the effects of what falls out of my pockets to be the truest of treasures. Those are the reminders that kindness and grace will always exist.
I have had two major relocations within four years. Due to factors in these moves–saved for another revelation– there have been some traumatic losses– upping my appreciation for what didn’t go by the wayside to return to the decay of the earth. For this, I am heartened and delighted by inadvertent discoveries of unexpected treasures: my first vinyl album (Eddie Cochran), beautifully crafted letters from a foreign land –filled with drawings within all available space; handmade and personalized figurative cutouts as Christmas ornaments, a full set of primary teeth from all three of my kids; a letter of apology from my father acknowledging his shortcoming due to alcoholism, the journal I kept chronicling my first love and a faux pearl necklace that I attached amulets from the Athens Bazaar. This naming is not inclusive; however, it was inspired today by the whims of my annual nod to seasonal spectacle. This year, I celebrate and remember my dear friend, mentor and about the best example of who I’d like to be when I grow up, Catherine Mulligan.
Hand cut ornaments–some with writing, some with cut outs of my young daughters collaged on heads, buttons dangling– were faithfully received in the mail every December. These crossed many hundreds of miles and about the same in time, from the city I left at age 23. Included in her annual missive was a note about her golden years: travels and adventures with her soul mate and husband, Patrick. We had long since lost any real connection, in the way that close friends are able to close the distance.
She was twice my age when we both attended Moorhead State University’s Art Department; and was a graduate student, who, probably designed a program to fit her wishes. Her infectious laugh and piecing gaze created an aura around her. It was nearly nightly, that an entourage of admirers would have the good fortune to join her family, a convivial host. Patrick was also the owner of the local “Liquor Store” and libations were graciously available: a harmonious atmosphere filled with music, conversation, art talk. One felt fortunate to be in Catherine’s court. Montmartre it wasn’t, rather the earnest but modest ways of a mid-western version of the cultural elite; seemed just short of exciting.
Catherine and Patrick’s daughter Arron– who was at an indeterminate age, between 8 and 20–mingled among the artistes. It was a novelty to be in the company of this delightful young lady. Conversations with her were anticipated with eagerness. She added a generational quality to what was top heavy.
It has been a joy– lighting the multitude of candles today– reviving the stowed away remembrances of how life was enhanced by the friendship and role model I had in Catherine.