About 11 of 12 years ago, my friend Louisa told me something noone had ever told me before and no one has told me since. She would not remember it and I would not forget it. I told her this yesterday within the context of her leaving her position as Editor-in-Chief of Oklahoma Today. She’s been with the magazine for more than 13 years, and is leaving to head another venerable Oklahoma institution, the Kirkpatrick Foundation.
So, we were sitting at your desk in the Colcord. John Jernigan was in and out of your office. You were wearing a white shirt and black capris pants. I have no clue what I was wearing or why I was there. I’m guessing it was something to do with Governor’s Arts Awards, maybe, or a story about Betty? I was in a very bad place. I was a newly-divorced single mom with a 1-year-old. I was devastated over the loss of my marriage and…was a crisis for me of unbelievable proportion. It took me years to get over it…cruel…but of course, the loss of so many dreams. Absolute white picket fence burning to the…ground. But, other bad stuff…I will tell you someday when we go to the Woody Guthrie festival and smoke cigars. Because we’re 40 and it’s cool to do that, dontcha know. I should smoke a cigar before I die.
How To Be Unforgettable
So, I generally felt like a worthless sack of…Someone said to me, ‘Let Juliette come spend time with us so she knows what a real family is.’ I was dateless, and at 135 pounds thought I was a cow…God, it was a horrible, horrible time. Of course, you knew none of this and our conversation was all business as I recall. But, this is what you said to me within the first 5 minutes of meeting:
You are darling.
And then you turned to John Jernigan and said, “Isn’t she darling?”
That was it. And, I never forgot it and I saw myself differently that day through your eyes. And, I’m certain that all darlingness has now slipped away, because thank God, I am no longer living in an aftermath.
I wasn’t going to tell you this until we were 80 and walking around the block in our shifts. =)
I spend a fair amount of time thinking about words. There is a Proverb that says pleasant words are sweet to the soul and health to the bones. Another verse says words have the power of life, but also can produce a death-dealing poison. Twelve years ago, Louisa spoke a word in due season. Like the writer of Proverbs wrote, how good it was.
Photo: Juliette and Me, Easter Sunday, 2002, in front of our old house on 57th Street. My father took this picture.