Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Sexy Blonde From Pittsburgh

I first met Mary over twenty-five years ago when I was looking for some furniture. She had an antique shop across the street from the North Miami city hall. We soon became good friends, and we discovered that we knew a lot of the same people, from Laymond Hardy, a naturalist and author, to Bill Morganstern, a condo developer and antique collector. It was the antiques that caused Bill to know Mary. Laymond, like Mary back then, had a fairly sizeable piece of property and they both raised rare fruits. Bill and Laymond were both about the same twenty years older than me, just as Mary was.

Well, I was between wives at the time so every few weeks I'd take Mary to Corky's, a deli style restaurant, for a hot pastrami on rye. One night she asked me why I thought that Laymond never asked her out, or Bill for that matter, but it was obvious that Laymond was the object of her desires. I guess it's a generational thing, but it had never occurred to Mary that the guy living with Laymond at the time was his "significant other". It was the same story with Bill. She didn't stand a chance! Bill passed away a few years ago and Laymond is living in upstate Florida. I spoke with him a few months ago.

Mary and I have remained close friends and we continued going out for the lunch or dinner once a week or so. A few years ago cataracts made her give up driving and I started taking her to the doctors and on a weekly shopping trip. Here, two years ago we were on our way, and stopped off at Starbucks for a cup of coffee. As usual, Mary had fixed her hair, wore a freshly ironed dress, and put on a touch of make-up for the occasion. The conversation likely included the day's news, from what was going on in Miami-Dade County to the world situation. She always read the paper cover to cover. She was sharp as a tack! Then about six months ago she started getting extremely forgetful. When I picked her up I'd either have to remind her to bring her checkbook or pay for her groceries and get a check from her when we returned. She nearly stopped eating and lost a lot of weight. She became convinced that people were breaking into her place and stealing her valuable antiques, all things she once owned but had sold years ago. She was driving the police nuts! Finally, a few weeks back, she was taken to the psych ward of the county hospital for evaluation. Unfortunately she's still there, but it's probably for the best. I miss her.


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