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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Angels Beware, a New Kid on the Block

It was over four-score years ago that she sat across the aisle from me in Spanish class. She smiled, I smiled. She invited me for lunch at the Barn at UC Riverside, and thus began a friendship that endured for those forty- some years.

We were both married students, older than some, both of us had a gap in our schooling. We graduated, lived in the same town, then apart, together, apart.

I remember a Christmas Eve in Oregon, when Sylvia and her husband Greg flew in from California, and found themselves unable to maneuver their car on our snow laden hill. I saw them from my kitchen window, trudging up the road dragging their suitcases, laughing and slipping. They joined us for Christmas, and we ate turkey and drank Champagne—one of Sylvia’s favorite things—Champagne and Christmas.

Over the years we have sometimes lived close by, oftentimes far apart, but visited often. The Fourth of July at Coronado Island and eating sea food from Point Loma Seafood, and watching fireworks will always be our favorite fourth of July—she mentioned it every year and wished we were there. 

We endured separations, togetherness, confidences, marital disputes, pregnancies, childbirth, child rearing. She had a little girl when I met her, and 13 years later she gave birth to a little boy. My kids and her little boy took baths together, ran around the Zoo, Disneyland, and Bazaar Del Mundo in San Diego where Sylvia and I drank margaritas, and the kids perused the court yard, and visited the toy store, and were safe and confined while we wiled away the hours.

We wondered about the afterlife together, and when hippies came along we contemplated what that meant, and about the gay movement, and women’s rights.

She liked shocking pink fingernails and toe nails, and flip flops with huge flowers on her toes, and all things bling, but her favorite were jewels of the real variety. Going to an auction stirred her creative juices, as did Interior Decorating.

I still remember those pink fingernails clutching basalt bluffs as Sylvia and I slogged in sandals through the water of Oneonta Canyon in the Columbia River Gorge, then we sat all wet and prickly, but laughing about it, until we changed at Nordstroms before the drive home.

Within this past year she said, “When I lose weight and get in shape I’m getting a pair of skinny jeans with rhinestones on the pockets.”

When you see a short lady with long blond hair, with rhinestones on her butt wandering around heaven—that will be Sylvia

She died December 7, the day after her 83rd birthday.

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