Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Memories of my sister ... (part three) ...

Peggy lived about a block off of Cooper Union, and one of her very favorite browsing spots was 6th St., where she would spend hours in the used-book stores. (I've been told that there aren't nearly as many, now, as there were. She would be unhappy about that.)

She had a studio apartment (rent-controlled, thank goodness!) on the third floor. Her one window looked out on a lot of bricks -- but, if you stuck your head out, you could see a very small patio/garden area below. She liked to stick her head out.

She also liked parks. There was a small one, close to where she lived, and one time when I was visiting we spent a few comfortable hours there. (I hope one does not still exist, but there did at one time, a photograph of me in my bikini at that park. Heavens, but that was a long time ago!)

As introspective as she was, it might seem almost 'natural' that her religious philosophy would evolve. Zen Buddhism captured her heart and mind. She spent as many personal days as she could at a monastery in upstate New York. (In fact, after she was cremated, my daughter -- who lived in the area at that time -- took charge of the cremains and a quiet, and very lovely, ceremony was conducted. A few of Peggy's friends from the city were there, as well, and were witness to a scattering of some of her ashes.)

Peggy actually came to Houston one time to visit me. She didn't stay long ... it was "too hot" -- (Well, what can I tell you? You're in Houston!) ... she was allergic to cats (I had one) ... she couldn't stand the smoke (I am a smoker) ... truthfully, I think she missed the big city! Not that Houston's a small town. It isn't. I think Peggy just wanted to go back to where she was the most comfortable!

When I was in the art business (I realize that this will come as a surprise to some of you who really don't know me all that well), I traveled extensively (but not abroad) in search of artists whose works would be of appeal to my clients -- and, whose works they could afford. The two were not always compatible.

Some of these travels took me to New York City, where -- of course -- I stayed with Peggy in her tiny apartment. I slept on a futon, which was quite comfortable, in a little 'loft' area she had had custom-installed some years before -- accessible by a fold-down ladder. Clever! Her place was crammed with just a ton of 'stuff' -- books, journals, records, and tapes, mainly -- all extremely well-organized & neat.

A computer must have been there someplace, but I do not remember exactly where. She did not end up as an interpreter at the United Nations, after all. She had a "Typing To Go" business, which she ran mainly out of her home. Sometimes she would get extended temporary work for a business, but most often that would turn out to be 'unacceptable' ... it was too hot/cold ... co-workers were impossible ... she was allergic to the air fresheners that were in use, etc., etc. Working out of the home was the best case scenario for her, but that was not always possible.

Anyway, it was on one of these fact-finding art trips that I decided I wanted to give Peggy a -- for me, somewhat expensive -- gift. And, at the time, I could afford to do so. (The only really personal thing I had ever given her, to my recollection, was an afghan that I crocheted one year when I was in a crocheting and knitting 'frenzy'! I wonder whatever happened to that afghan, by the way?)

So, I broached my wish to her, and she was quite excited about the idea! Off we went to the Art Expo at the convention center (Javitz, I think -- I don't know what it might be called now!), where we spent literally hours wandering up and down aisles, meeting artists, and viewing their work.

This was in the day before cell phones, you understand (& yes, there indeed was such a period in man's history!), so we would "Yoohoo!" or wave to one another every so often. We had pre-arranged to meet later at a specific location, and we each went about doing our own 'thing'.

Well before our scheduled meeting time, Peggy found me and said, "I know whose work I want, I just don't know which piece to choose." So, we went back to the artist's booth, chatted with the artist for a few minutes, and I assisted Peggy with a selection that I thought would best complement her apartment's decor. Neat, neat!

Just a few months before her death, Peggy wanted to make sure that 'everything' was "taken care of". She gave many of her things away. (I wonder who got the afghan? I might seem to be obsessing here, but I'm not -- it was not in my color scheme -- just a curious question, O.K? And oh, by the way, my daughter has the piece of art, but that's another story!)

I scattered the rest of Peggy's cremains wherever I thought she might be able to see a beautiful sunset, a deer, a raccoon (& yes, even a skunk!), a waterfall, a river, a bridge. I scattered a few ashes at Presbytery Point in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where we had both gone to church camp as young people. A few were tossed into Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.

Lastly, several were scattered over the family plot in Munising, where my brother, father, and mother are at rest.

1 comment:

Tammy said...

This was a great read!

I'm dying to know what the piece of art was.