Monday, June 05, 2006

Rest in peace, P

She passed away last week...

It's amazing how 5 little words can shake your foundation like a 7.2 quake and when you live in tremor-land you know how earth shattering that can be. Leaving jittery knees, a deep frown and an instant plunge down memory lane while it shoves the mirror of your own life right into your face for a good, hard look.

I'd only been at work for a short time this morning when I saw the little yellow envelope alerting me to a new message. I'd just cleared out my inbox and was curious and excited since I don't get many e-mails any more, (you'd think that would be a good thing but fuckshit I'm bored.) My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw the name, an old friend and co-worker I'd lost touch with and carried just a bit of animosity for since she was one that actually got pissed at me for getting cancer. Yes, I know that sounds retarded but it's true. Well, she might not have been pissed at me for getting sick but she railed my ass for how I told her and I was equally pissed at that reaction and we haven't talked since but I'm getting off track.

I was trepidatious to open the e-mail since I had no idea what it might say, and since I talked a little shit about her a few weeks ago to another mutual friend I was anticipitating a potential thrashing but so be it. What I read couldn't have been farther from what I thought it was going to be.

And there were those 5 little words.

She passed away last week. My breath got caught in my chest and I had to read it again. Then again. Then once again. But this can't be right. She wasn't that old, maybe late fifties, younger than my own mother for sure, and one of the orneriest bitches I've ever known. Surely I'd read something wrong. If only that were true.

She was not only the kick-ass mom of some high-school friends I was pretty damn tight with for a few years but she was the woman responsible for taking me out of retail hell when the lame, fake marketing company I had been working for went belly-up and didn't pay me my last months wages. She saw me working a counter at Nordstrom, stomped across the carpet right over to me and shoved her business card in my hand while saying "What the hell are you doing? We need to get your ass out of here, now!" She hired me the next week.

In my shock I managed to pick up the phone and call another old co-worker to get the details. A massive stroke. She made it about a week then her body couldn't hold on any longer. She'd never really taken care of her health and had been battling a host of problems in the last few years and this is why she didn't make it. Needless to say, that fact has scared the shit out of me today.

For those of us left to mourn, we find solace in the fact that she died with her family around her. Unfortnately it was the same day as her only grand-baby's first birthday but we all agree she'd want it that way so no one ever fucking forgets her. She was never one to pass an opportunity to be the center of attention and I know she's laughing over that karmic joke.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this today because to be brutally honest, she was fucking mean. She was one of the most nasty people I've ever known. I worked with her for almost 8 years and saw her routinely scare the piss out of people for the fun of it. She was so passive aggressive she used to walk up to me, size up my outfit and say something like, "Wow, Betty, it's amazing how you can look so good in such an ugly color."

I used to say her heart was made of a small lump of coal but you know what? That lump had a diamond in the middle of it and she'd be the first one to tell you the karat weight. She was smart, really smart, and dealt with a Mt. Everest pile of shit in her life and never, EVER let anyone see her sweat. She worked for a mother fucker for years and made it work. She would eat glass before she'd let you see a tear roll down her face. I admire that. I really fucking admire that. I wish I was like that.

She intimidated the hell out of people and pushed you to grow a thicker skin. She wanted you to show your strengths and not your weaknesses, she just made you bleed a little first. She'd also listen to you and hug you when you cried and laugh so loud it would rattle your brain and if you were lucky she'd throw you a compliment and you knew she meant it. She was honest to a fault and took life by the balls.

I believe some people come in and out of your life for a reason. We can't possibly remember everyone but some make an idelible mark. She was one of those people. If it wasn't for her I wouldn't be where I am today, wherever that is, or have the career I have, as much as I hate it, but the roads I've traveled have led me here and this is where I'm supposed to be. I learned a lot from her and I hope my crappy memory doesn't fail me so I can reminisce all of the good times in the 20 + years I've known this incredible lady.

She was only 61. She was too young to die. She was a character and a half. And I'll miss her.

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