For two weeks now, I've been carving a bit of time out of my day to have lunch with my friend's mom, Miss Nina.
She is in town for medical treatment and spends most of her days alone and tired. She's been here for months, but last week I ran into her on the street. We made a lunch date, fine-tuned the details through her daughter, and met in the lobby of the building.
Last week we went to a Chinese restaurant, so this week we just sat in the apartment and had sandwiches while chatting. We talked about so much: her treatment, all the work to be done back-home, things she's lost, but the most amazing parts to me were her descriptions of my friend's childhood.
She was telling me about birthdays and how much trouble she went to creating birthday cakes for her children. She described a Wizard of OZ cake that had a yellow brick road and all-four characters. She still seemed a bit disappointed at not being able to find silver icing for the tin man! "It was the only part that wasn't edible," she explained.
The other daughter got a Holly Hobby cake one year, that one took her forever with all the flowers. The son wanted Homer Simpson, so she got a picture to copy and drew a sofa first and then had Homer laying back, beer in hand!
She had so much light and life in her face while telling me about them. Pride of accomplishment and love of children are powerful. It didn't seem to matter much that all the pictures of these masterpieces were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina or that she wasn't feeling well. In that moment she was transported to the birthday party where little Ravi must have giggled with glee at seeing Homer - and the rest of the party must have laughed hysterically and given her so many compliments for all her hard work.
I'm disappointed she'll be away next week, but when she returns we have planned a picnic in the park. I'm really looking forward to it!