September 10, 2007

Enquiring Minds Want To Know!

Bee reading, 1981.

Bee and I talk about a little of everything in our Monday morning phone chats. She was determined to keep our friendship going after I regained my life, and I was actually willing to talk with her on the phone once a week when I phoned no one else.

This week, after dissecting the LA gallery scene, New York Galleries, the new shows she is in, the reemergence of realism, demise of abstraction, new techniques of photography, art forms in alternative materials, and techniques of putting together roughs before starting a new piece, our conversation turned to families. Her dad continues to fail with his alcoholism leading him into complete invalidism while her mother’s alzheimers continues it’s relentless down hill pace.

Bee comes down often to help keep the house clean. This week’s visit showed great progress in the housecleaning department…many of the surfaces are now grease free and only need maintenance.

“Have you started on the closet yet?” I asked. Her mother’s closet has everything she ever purchased or was given much with the original tags.

“Nope, I got into the spare bedroom…but not into that closet or under the bed,” she replied. “I took seventeen bags of stuff out to my car for a thrift store. Acres of Martha Stewart in her various guises. Tons of little tchockies…..must have been purchased for stocking stuffers.”

I teased, “have you gone into the room you can’t get into yet?”

She hasn’t, but she has hired someone to do the yard work. Now the front yard is done, and bagged trash lines the side of the house.

As she helps clean the house, she’s been uncovering many interesting things among them her maternal grandmother’s diaries. Grandma, who was born in 1900, didn’t include any emotions or feelings on the pages of her books, but she did record the day-to-day happenings, travels, and family movements. At two months, the diary says, her brother was…..”fussy and bleeding from an ear.” Later they took him to a doctor who said the ear drum was broken. It records that family members were rarely alone also. They cleaned each other’s houses together, they cooked together, they went to the movies together, and it was a rare day when grandma reported that…“James and I spent the evening alone.”

Many years ago, Bee was told that she was born prematurely. The whole family was told she was premature. Reading the diary, Bee finds out that her father was discharged from the Navy in 1945, came back to the states aboard a troop carrier, and returned to Kansas eight months before Bee was born. Perhaps not quite eight months. But according to the birth certificate, Bee was a full term baby and was almost eight pounds at birth weight.

“‘Bastard at 60,’ the Enquirer article should read,” she told me. “’Woman’s World Gets Set On Edge. Full term normal weight, at sixty she discovers her family has been lying all these years.’” For it was mathematically impossible for her to be her father’s child. “Grandma recorded everything,” bee continued. “If mother went to San Francisco or Hawaii to meet dad, it will be in here somewhere. But as my older brother says, I am nothing like anyone else in my whole, arch conservative family.”


Me: Sunday I worked a loud, intense, and beyond noisy football season opener that we won, today I put feet up to overcome the “sausage syndrome” and tidy to overcome the slob syndrome. Bee, Ba, G, Marie, and the Campo family have remembered my birthday this year. It’s tomorrow….and I just won’t watch TV.

G: He had a ball playing with the new computer….complete with trip to Frye’s, but didn’t remember any house things. Ah well………passion indeed.

Duck: G says he was fine. They sat out on his patio and talked for about a half an hour.

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