15 March 2005
There's something about meeting up with friends you haven't seen for years.
Susie came to town yesterday. Well, not exactly here, but Sacramento, which was close enough.
Susie is Gilbert's niece, the daughter of his sister. Our meeting was predestined, we have always told each other. How she loved her "Uncle Buddy" (Gilbert) and he loved her. He frequently told me how special she was, how intelligent she was and how proud of her he was. I felt like I knew her without ever meeting her.
She was invited to be in a friend's wedding in San Francisco and Gilbert was so excited about her coming. The night of the wedding, he and I picked her up after the reception and went back to his house to visit. Susie and I hit it off immediately.
The next evening, Gilbert was conducting the Lamplighter orchestra for a performance ofThe Mikado and couldn't actually be with her during the show, so he arranged for tickets for the two of us right behind him and she got to see the show, which she loved.
When she went back to Oklahoma, she and I began a lively correspondence. We felt we had really bonded and we were enjoying getting to know each other by mail.
Little did we dream that in just a couple of months she would be making a second trip to San Francisco, this time for "Uncle Buddy's" funeral.
In the months following his death, she and I were each other's main support because we understood each other so well. Her parents were ... well, there's no other way to say it but "weird." She found little solace from them, and she was really bereft, as I was, at Gilbert's unexpected death.
About a year after his death, I flew to Oklahoma to spend a long week end with her and her husband and then-3 year old daughter Rachel. We bonded even more closely and I could see in Rachel the things that Gilbert had seen in her. He had come back from a visit with the family to rave about what a smart little girl she was.
I didn't see Susie again until Rachel made her bat mitzvah, at which time Walt and I, along with our mutual friend Will (who stepped into the "uncle" role following Gilbert's death) flew back for the festivities.
I think that was the last time I saw her. We continued to correspond and, when computers came along, to e-mail, though over the years, with little contact, we gradually began to drift apart. I did check in with updates on Rachel, though, following her progress through high school (at which she excelled) and college, where she is following in her uncle's footsteps in theatre and music (especially opera). He would have been so proud! We saw Rachel in 2001, just before she started college. when "Uncle Will" treated her to a trip to San Francisco. (She is now getting ready to graduate from college.)
But it's been years since I've seen Susie, so I was thrilled when she e-mailed out of the blue to let me know that she and her friend would be in town today and asked if we could get together.
Will took the train up from San Francisco and Walt and I met him at the depot in Davis and then drove in to Sacramento, where we met Susie & Casey, and Casey's sister Norma. We had a lovely lunch and chattered away, getting caught up on all the news from the intervening years.
The time passed quickly and then it was time for them to go off to the activities they had planned for the evening.
It just felt so good to see her again, after all these years. I hope that perhaps we can reconnect and not let the space between us get so wide in the coming years.
There's something special about people with whom you have gone through an intense emotional experience. It bonds you forever.
In answer to Mary's request, here's the original recipe for the carrots, which I adapted a bit.
2 pounds baby carrots
PHOTO OF THE DAY
With Susie and Will