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I am bereft.... She was a hero of mine during my early turbulent teen years. When the 1971 Sylmar (L.A.) earthquake occurred we had to move out of our house for repairs to be made.My mother arranged that all of us kids - 6 of us - 11 to 23- would live in an empty house our landlord owned on the other side of the block we lived on.While she and her new husband, moved into his old apartment, a full city away. This was a time of drugs and no one in that little house was a responsible adult. It was chaotic and fun at the same time - but certainly not a home environment, in the least.I might as well have been living in a 'crash pad' on the street.At 13 going on 14 I felt abandoned, Thrown away. and emotionally it was simply a Dark Night of the Soul, that I still deal with today.In self-preservation, internally, symbolically, I replaced my mother with Suzanne. She was my real mom, I told myself, and that got me though a very trying Spring and Summer.Later, I got to see the tapping of the final show of the First Season of the Original Bob Newhart show.I had cut school and my best friend had driven us up to the Television City Studios and I gave a book of my poetry to a guard to give to Ms. Pleshette as a birthday gift.The guard in turn gave us the tickets for the following week's show. I was in heavenWhile watching the show, Nathan, my friend, noticed someone in the wings of the shooting and went down to speak with them.It was his aunt. At the end of the show the bleachers we all sat in began to empty out, but Nathan said, "Hold on. just wait. We don't have to go yet."I watched a big blading guy walk up to speak with Suzanne, and saw her head snap up and search the bleachers.The the two walked up to where we stood, and Suzanne climbed up a ladder to speak with me, there at the railing!She held my hand and said how much she loved my writing and how she hoped I would end up writing for a living. Praising me.Touching my hand, being so genuine. To a stranger, whose frankly erotic poetry, about her! must have been off-putting to read.A week later, she also sent a thank you letter, on her own stationary, in her own hand writting, thanking me again and encouraging me to always write.My mother, saw it first and who the letter was from and mimed tearing it in two and throwing in in the trash - "Probably nothing," she teased.I will always cherish the small bit of humanity I witness for this wonderful woman. Her loss is huge in my life, but then, so was her simple example of Grace and Beauty. I carry it with me to this day.
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