Yes, she's strange and different...but not THAT different.

10 November 2010

One Last Time

This is the text of the invitation (because I can't find the invitation itself) I got back in April to the going away / memorial / wake / celebration / party for my dear, dear friend and neighbor shortly after she died. The original invitation was in a maroon (her favorite color) script with cherubs (she loved hearts and angels) at the top of the page and flowers (she LOVED flowers) all down both sides. She held a similar celebration several years ago when her husband died, and that was the most fun I've ever had at a party where I also cried a lot.
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Sherril A-- B-----

Please join us for the
Celebration of a Full and Wonderful Life
Saturday, April 17th, 2010
4:00 p.m. until way past our bedtime
xxx xxxxx xxxxx
Richmond, Texas

As part of this celebration we will all be made to wear and share Sherril’s big, bodacious, bright, gaudy jewelry, whether we want to or not. Well, maybe not all of us.

Also part of this day you will always have a part of Sherril’s heart by taking with you any hearts you may have given her through the years, located in the hall baño, plus, lots of Christmas ornaments, and knick knacks for your taking that will not be located in the hall baño.

Also part of this gathering, a video cam will be set up for your talking pleasure, to share any memories you may have of Sherril, for her family to watch over and over again.

And last but not least, the dance train around the kitchen island!
YES, ONE LAST TIME!!

Barbeque will be served but please bring what you will be drinking and if you would like to bring a dessert or hors d’oeuvres please contact L--------.

See you all on the 17th!

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My emailed response to her sister was:
Yes, you will! I'm bringing a bottle of wine, a pan of lemon squares and a roll of paper towels for my tears ... or in case I spill a glass of wine later in the evening.

My friend Sherril was a truly unique and beautiful individual. She had been a neighbor of mine for 20 years and during that time she became a sister-friend. To me, she was the epitome of an intelligent, awesome, independent, tech-savvy woman. She was outgoing to a fault, swore like a sailor and hated oppression and discrimination against anyone. She was crazy but in a perfectly normal way that fit exactly with my own craziness. We could sit at the island in her kitchen and drink coffee or beer or wine (or all of them) and talk about anything and everything for hours. She had survived lung cancer, her husband's Alzheimer's and death, larynx cancer (and it's removal), her mother's death and a heart attack and had done so with grace and good spirits. She was one of the first people outside my family that I ever told about my being transgendered. She responded by giving me a gift of red underwear - bra and panties - to "welcome me to the sorority". She and I shared a love of all things lemon and used each other to taste-test new recipes. She loved hearts and angels and good porn and dirty jokes. And flowers. Oh, how she LOVED flowers! She WAS the Blossom Diva.

And then she got sick and she died. She was 75.

All of us who loved her went to the going-away party that the invitation above heralded. Of course, I wore my red undies in her honor. It was a perfect good-bye and memorial and it's the kind of send-off I'd like to think I'd get. We - her family and friends - talked and told Sherril stories and drank wine and beer and cried and laughed. A lot. We all wore her big flashy costume jewelry, including most of the guys. (I had on a necklace, earrings and 3 bracelets. I still have them.) We ate lemon everything and barbecue and cake and cookies and laughed and cried some more. We went out in her back yard and sang "Happy Birthday" as loudly and as badly as we could - not because it was any particular person's birthday but because Sherril had said that it was always someone's birthday somewhere. Besides, that's what we always did at one of her parties. And when we sang that night, an owl in the big pecan tree in the middle of her yard sang along with us. It was either her spirit, or we were all drunk. Or both.

And then we danced! Oh, did we ever dance! The biggest tradition at her parties was, late in the evening when everyone was all loosened up, to crank the Motown tunes up to 11 and then just dance like crazy people around the big island in the center of her kitchen. There was no wrong way to dance around that island, and the dancing might spread to other adjacent rooms if it got too crowded, but there was always by-fucking-god DANCING. That night we had a conga line, line dancing, salsa dancing, crazy dancing, twisting, jiving, jumping and everybody sang along and WE DANCED OUR ASSES OFF! One last time. And I know Sherril danced with us.

But finally, when everyone was cried out and sung out and talked out and danced out and sore from laughing, we took our souvenirs of Sherril and we went home. She is greatly missed by everyone but we have the solace of knowing that we sent her on her way with the happiness and craziness and exuberance that made up her life. And because of that, I know we took a bigger piece of her with us when we left than just her souvenirs and our memories.

Today, the souvenirs of Sherril (3 hearts, 1 angel) that I took home are touchstones for me. When things aren't going right or I seem to be sliding downhill, I look at them and I can hear her saying, "WHAT THE FUCK! Just what. the. fuck. woman? Just get off your ass and start moving. It's the moving that's important! The goddamned direction will take care of itself, but you have to DO it. So get the hell out of here and start. And when you get to wherever you're going, you better bring your ass back here and tell me about the trip." And I do. Every time.

  • On 11/10/2010 11:56 AM, Anonymous Suzy said…

    What a great way to send off a friend. I hope people do that for me although if they take the jewelry I will haunt them forever. Mainly because I know where they all live.

    RIP Sherril.

     
  • On 11/10/2010 9:08 PM, Anonymous kris said…

    "And then she got sick and she died."

    My heart is all broken by that sentence.

    I have always said that when I die? I want people to carry on with their lives as though I am not dead at all, but instead just reading a book in the other room. I don't want a big display of emotion or sadness or a celebration of what was. I just want a moving on with the business of life.

    But this story?

    Of the singing and the dancing and the love and the food and the silliness and the touchstone hearts?

    That sounds good too.

    Sigh.

    You did your friend justice with this post, babe.

    You so fucking did.

    Me

     

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