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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Remembering Chris

I have known Chris for over 12 years, we met shortly after Chris's landlady died in a car accident.  It was Chris who showed up on my doorstep to tell me this sad news, as she knew I was friendly with her landlady.

Chris then sat down on the porch and cried.  As did I. That death brought us together.

After that, Chris was a frequent visitor on our front porch.  Back then, Bob and I didn't own a television and every night, after work, we would sit on the front porch and talk.  We always called this our "porch sitting time".  Chris was there so frequently I remember Bob, once, tired after a long day, complaining "she's always here!" and wanting some "alone time" with just me.

Chris was unlike any friend I've ever had.  She grew up poor in Maryland, had a 6th grade education, was part-Cherokee and swore like sailor.  She wore a ring on every finger, even her thumbs, and had a ton of tattoos (before this was the fashionable thing to do) -- the one her calf in the image of Snoopy lying atop his doghouse with a think bubble stating "F--- YOU!"

She had, as she would say, "a wild time" when she was young, and spent some years in prison where she gave birth to, first, her daughter who she gave up, and then a son, (now deceased), who she also gave up for adoption. During that time, she was cited as the alleged ringer leader in a jailbreak.

She left Maryland with her third child, a baby boy, and a cat (in a carrier) and everything she owned on her back.  She stuck out her thumb on the side of the highway and was picked up by a truck driver.  When the driver asked her where she was headed, she said "I don't know. Where you headed?" He told her that he was taking his load to St. Petersburg, Florida and she said, "sounds good to me."  That truck driver dropped her off on a corner in St. Pete and she stayed here for 40 some years working as an upholsterer in a downtown shop.

She was feisty and a loyal friend.  But you would not want to cross her.

I remember the time, when another tenant in her apartment building complained to the landlord about Chris's dog.  That tenant had a potted plant next to her door with a sign on it "Do Not Touch!" so Chris poisoned that plant with muriatic acid, then left burning black candles, strange herbs, chicken bones and a Death card from the tarot deck on her doorstep.  I remember "helping" her plot  this revenge on the front porch, and the two of us cackling like witches --- I honestly didn't think she'd go through with it! The tenant moved shortly afterwards.

I don't know how I would have survived without her for all those caregiving years as she always was happy to sit with Bob so I could run errands even when it took her a two hour long bus trip to make it to our house after she moved.

And I don't know how I would have made it through Bob's death, cremation, and all that without her by my side.
Chris & Bob at an estate sale.

Chris loved thrift shops, yard sales, she collected cows.  She loved her dogs, slasher movies, bingo and religiously played the Cash 3.  She was "lucky in cards" but not in love.  On her 65th birthday, she had a tattoo put on her arm, a heart with the name Eddie, her long lost love --- the one who got away.  She said, "I guess I should have never punched him in the nose."

She always told me that my only fault was "you're too nice."

Wheelchair Race!

I'll never forget the day that a representative from the Florida Labrador Retriever Rescue was here at our house doing the "home check". We had been sitting in the living room and the women was telling me the "awful conditions" under which Kona and her siblings were living, including "they feed those dogs people food!" and "they smoke cigarettes!"  And the next I know, here comes Chris, knocking at my door and when she wheels into the kitchen on her "wheelie" (which was the name of her power chair) the first thing out of her mouth is "I didn't have time to cook, so I bought Boomer some rotisserie chicken!" and I am think-screaming Chris, shut up! and the second thing out of her mouth was "OH! I forgot to buy cigarettes!  Can I borrow a pack?" I"m thinking Oh no! And I could've killed her right then as I was sure the whole home check was blown in that minute, but fortunately the "glowing reference" from Dr. Hillary pulled it through.

The last time I actually talked with her was Christmas Eve before she fell into a coma.  She told me then she knew she was going to die and she was willing me her "cow collection" (believe me, she has a lot of cow stuff) and I told her to "shut up" and "I didn't want her freaking cow collection".  She then told the nurse that I was "one of only three" people she loved.

I don't know what I'd have done without her all these years. And I am somewhat at lost without her.

I also now have a lot of cows....


Denise said...

She sounds like quite a character. Makes me wish I'd known her.

Anonymous said...

Love this entry!

Mary Ann K. said...

What a great person! She sounds like a person you meet in a book. She came into your life during good times and stayed for the bad. Angels come in different packages. She went back to heaven.

What a moooooving gift she left you!

Mary Ann

Rebecca Dutton said...

Kona looks so happy in her photograph that I am glad you passed your home check. Chris sounds like a good friend who came through in difficult times - something I've learned not to take for granted.