Tuesday, May 4, 2010
A Tribute to a Friend
My friend Jewel passed on Sunday. She was born with cataracts and spent much of her youth in a state school for the blind. She was teaching a rehab center when she met Donald, the love of her life. She could see only light and shadow. Don is completely blind.
Like Hansel and Gretel, these two very special individuals moved from place to place as work called, and raised three able and beautiful, sighted children. Jewel stayed home with the kids and worked with choirs wherever she happened to be. A beautiful voice and strong abilities as a pianist made her popular wherever she would go. Donald taught special and blind children for over 40 years.
I met the pair when they called me at Pleasant Day Medical Adult Day Care Center asking if they could come to entertain the clients. You can bet I accepted their offer immediately. You can hardly imagine my delight when Jewel asked me to sing with them and invited me to dredge up the words to the big stage plays of the fifties.
We rocked the Surrey With The Fringe On Top and torched Mack the Knife. What fun! I felt as if I had met a sister I did now know I had, and I believe Jewel felt the same way for we were drawn to each other like lovers, although that was not the pull - we both loved music and sharing it made the music better.
I made sure they were on the Pleasant Day calendar whenever they happened to come to Cambridge from their New Orleans home and the two of us were thick as thieves on those visits that were never long enough.
When I made my gospel CD, it would not do but that Jewel come and play piano for the event. What fun to make brand new music with a great piano player. We made great plans for Don's retirement when they would move to Cambridge.
When I think of Jewel, I think of shopping trips and reasons to sing. I think of the iris in my tiny front yard and how she loved big, showy flowers.
I didn't get to say goodbye when Don and Jewel went home after an April visit. I had no idea it was the last time we would see each other, and I don't even seem to have a photo of this sweet friend - although friends do and I hope that if they do, they will share, but I do not need a photo to see Jewel - plowing through life with verve and joy, trusting that her path will be clear.
What a privilege to have known her.
Keep on the sunny side. Terry