Sidewalk Ghosts / The Betty Boop of Wilmington Ohio

She showed me photos of her eleven grandchildren and six great-grand children, and as we bridged past the pleasantries, we shifted to a darker history…

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I was traveling from a location scout in San Diego, feeling rather tired from a long day of driving. En-route home from my dear old mum’s apartment, I dropped by her place to say, “Hi.” As all mothers do, she pulled me in for dinner, something no self-respecting British man could decline.

You have to know my mum, an amazing Brit, 86 years young at the time, her incredible history going all the way back to the WWII Blitz over London. Endless stories of a city under siege as wave after wave of bombs fell upon a civilian population; part of a mad-man’s quest to what he thought was perfecting the world. We all know how it ended and hopefully have all gleaned something from the horror it propagated. But more impactful are the tales of the brave who endured and conquered the wrath of pure evil. Enough of that for now; back we go to September 17, 2011, sitting in my mum’s apartment.

We enjoyed dinner, and over one of her 3 choices of dessert (customary in her home), I showed her the 365 project. Her eyes immediately lit up and to the phone she went to call her neighbor. Five minutes later I was sitting in Pat’s living room, meeting her and her four-legged companion, Sassy, for the first time.

We chatted for over an hour, and a little distracted by Sassy running all over the place, we still managed to have a remarkable conversation about faith and laughter. Her happiness was contagious and even though Sassy was drawing blood as she scratched on Pat’s delicate skin, Pat remained unaffected and smiling. Got to love the craziness of our pets, don’t we?

She showed me photos of her eleven grandchildren and six great-grand children, and as we bridged past the pleasantries, we shifted to a darker history as she told me of her son’s murder as well as the early death of her high school sweetheart husband. Of a tragic work injury that removed her from the workforce, and her being the only one still living out of all of her siblings. Still, she was unshaken in her optimism and positive outlook on the world. An example of light and courage she was. I was overwhelmed with a feeling in meeting her, simply this: grateful.

The night was getting late. I was getting close to my self-imposed publishing deadline and I had a big day coming. Plus, my eyes were starting to droop. I needed to get some sleep. All leading to my inability to refuse an invitation to sleep on my mums couch, figuring that I could hit the road at 5am to make it to my LA commitments. After all, it was better to feel the sting of morning exhaustion than the disappointment of a Jewish mother.

Mum asleep, I sat at the end of the couch, now made makeshift bed. Recounting the time spent with Pat, I listed what I had learned about her.

• She rolled with the punches
• Felt fortunate that she could still walk and think
• Held her hospital’s record for the most stints in a living human heart – ten to be exact
• I could not figure out how she could have had 3 hips replacements with only 2 hips
• And most amusingly, Pat had patterned her life after Betty Boop

Pat, I will always love you young lady.

Talk tomorrow my good friends,

Richard

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