What do you do on Memorial Day. Do you observe it as was intended,to honor all those that died in all the wars? Probably not, most of us don’t. It is still a special day for putting flowers on the graves of family members. A day for honoring the dead. A pretty serious subject.
I have a special place in life for Memorial Day. In 1958 on a Memorial Day I met my best friend in life, Kaye Dickie. She was a beloved friend for over 39 years. Why write about a dead friend,well why not? Some people are just worth talking about.
I am not as interested in telling you about her death. (all though she did die next to her swimming pool reading a book and she would think that would be a wonderful way to go. She was an avid reader and swimmer.) I want to tell more about her living. Kaye lived a life filled with love,joy,and a quick wit that would leave you hysterical with laughter.
Kaye was mildly deaf when I first met her. After having surgery to correct her hearing it lasted for sometime but in later years she became profoundly deaf. It never slowed her humor or her zest for doing what she wanted to do.
She had a Master’s Degree in elementary education,she was an outstanding teacher,a gifted musician, a golfer and a terrific letter writer. Her wonderful humor overflowed into everything she did. I received a letter from her the day before she died.
Kaye and I were both raised in homes where reading was taught to be the most important thing we could do. We both loved to read. We began playing a game game 39 years ago during the time of diapers and baby talk while we were raising our children. We continued to play it every time we saw each other. We would take play pens, beach blankets, picnic lunches to
Fontana Beach on beautiful Lake Geneva, Wi.
It began this way: We were going to be sent to a tropical island and we each could only take three books. What would they be?
We both agreed we would each take a Bible,Gone with the Wind and etc.
Over the years we picked different books,except for the Bible. That remained a constant with both of us.
Then we expanded to five books each and finally seven. (We both needed blank books so we could write.) As we grew older the game became sillier and we both loved it. Somehow it was a fine thread to our youth. When we saw each other every week or so we only thought of it occasionally. In later years we were a 1000 miles apart. Now we only saw each other two or three times a year so now it became a silly secret of ours.
Our conversations would be come wonderfully outlandish:
“Do you know how to fish?”
”No, do you?”
“Don’t you think we should take a book on fishing?”
Well I'm not giving up my copy of James Michner’s Hawaii for a book on fishing?”
“OK,I hope you don't mind climbing trees to gather coconuts.”
“We’ve got palm trees on our island? Nobody told me about that.”
On and on it went. Kaye loved puns so on our make believe calendar we changed our monday to Punday--we could only speak in puns on this day. Thursday was the day for building sand castles. We had to get away from reading sometime. As we had these absurd conversations we would laugh like children.
Over the years our love and laughter for each other never changed. We always ended our phone calls and our letters with “”I love you.” When we greeted each other twice a year we would hug and kiss and say,”I love you sooooooo much.” This was standard greeting for our children when they were little.
Our two families have been tied together by love for since 1958. Our children grew up loving each other. Our sons have camped and hiked all and white water rafted all over Colorado parts of Wyoming. Our daughters live 1000 miles apart and always take up right where they left off.
I shall always treasure the day I spent with Kaye in 1996. She rode with me out into East Weld as I called some clients. I took her to Roggen and introduce her to writer Elfy Dornan. I bought her Elfy’s book Prairie Winds.” I teased her about being afraid to be caught anywhere with out a book. As we traveled over the plains we talked and talked. That night we talked until 3 a.m. in the morning catching upon our tropical island and our books. That was the last day I saw her.
Memorial Day. I will always be a day to remember Dear Kaye for the love,joy and the goodness of a woman who knew no bounds. We shared many secrets and she took the most important one in my life she took to her grave. She never revealed my homosexuality to anyone. In the early days when I told her I ask her to please not tell anyone because of my children. She never did. When her husband visited me last spring I asked him and he said she had never mentioned it to him. She adored her husband and he swears she never said a word about it. How many times can you find anyone in your life that can keep a secret? What a woman!
Oh, Kaye if you are on our tropical island on the other side,keep your hands off my books until I get there! I still love you sooooo much.