Linda Joyce Contemplates is the title of my blog. The name is intended to capture my musings of different aspects of life. I am more than a wife. I am more than a daughter. I am more than a writer. As a woman, there is much I contemplate.
Today, I’m looking for patterns in what feels like randomness in order to process the changes rolling in waves into my life.
A week ago, my father called to deliver some sad news. He said, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but Miss Gladys’ granddaughter just called. Miss Gladys passed away on Sunday.” He proceeded to provide Keandra’s address and phone number. She’s Miss Gladys’ granddaughter.
This morning, I put a condolence card in the mail to Keanda and her family. She and I have never met; however, I know much about her. You see, my grandmother and Miss Gladys, despite their 20-plus age difference (and a host of other differences that include race, religion and political preferences) were best friends. One house separated them on Wingate Drive in New Orleans. These two women talked about everything, including the life and times of their grandchildren. Therefore, I’m sure Keanda knows as much about me as I know about her.
My father told me that Miss Gladys must have risen on Sunday morning and ate a bite, a few dishes were found neatly stacked in the sink. She went back to bed to read her Bible.
Several people called that day, but she never answered the phone. Her cousin, the one who lives across Filmore and down a few blocks, went to check on her. Miss Gladys was found in her bed, on her side, with her Bible open looking peaceful, as though asleep.
Did she have a pact with God, and this was the time they’d planned?
Miss Gladys celebrated her birthday in February, snuggled between Fat Tuesday and Valentine’s Day, and I was there to commemorate the occasion. The timing worked out perfectly when I was home visiting for Mardi Gras.
I brought a gift to Miss Gladys. A Japanese doll. I had made it when I was ten and living in Japan. I sent it to my grandmother and the doll resided in a prominent place in the living room curio cabinet. The doll came back to me when my grandmother passed away. It seemed only right to return it to New Orleans, on the same street, a door away from where it had lived for so many years.
My husband and I took Miss Gladys for a birthday lunch at the place she selected—Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in Tremè.
At eighty, she dressed in grey slacks and a red leather jacket, always the stylish one, whereas my grandmother used to dress like bag lady, after working for twenty years on New Orleans Police force she lived in constant fear of being mugged. Miss Gladys was the optimist to my grandmother’s constant pessimism.
After a lunch of fried chicken, greens, and macaroni and cheese at Dooky Chase, we headed over to Magazine Street to Sucrè for dessert. Rich and decadent sweetness. Afterward, we walked down the street to Fleurty Girl so I could buy some bling and SWAG for my then, upcoming debut novel release.
It was a perfect day!
I know Miss Gladys had a deep abiding faith. I’m happy she’s gone on to streets of gold and angels singing…but I shall miss her dearly.
In general, I don’t believe in coincidence. I do believe that there are lessons to be learned at every turn in life. I’m contemplating that concept while allowing my tears of grief to flow.
It’s summer now, a time for making memories. I hope you’ll make happy ones, like the ones I made on the last day I spent with Miss Gladys.