The past ten months has been a particularly challenging time for me. In that time three remarkable women have made a significant and lasting impact on my life . In this three-part post I hope to pay a worthy tribute to them and offer them my sincere and heartfelt thanks.
Beautiful – Carita
It is 1983, I am 17, going to the same school I am is a 16 year-old super cute hippy chick with a slight figure, a sweet open face and lush bee-stung lips. This girl is clever â€“ sheâ€™s engaging and displays a flashing sense of humour. She posseses a genuine and infectious laugh but perhaps her most immediately discernible quality is that she is utterly and breath-of-fresh-air refreshingly free of pretension â€“ with her, what you see is what you get. She is politically savvy and is no wallflower â€“ outspoken in matters about which she cares, especially ethical or moral issues. In discussions that broach these subjects she is fast to enter the fray, arguing her case with a conviction and fortitude that more than makes up for the occasional lack of cohesive logic apparent in her argument. Her heart rules her head . A big and mighty heart it is too. She is feisty enough to keep you on your toes and confident enough to keep you chasing. She is well-liked and confirms her position in the upper echelon of the schoolâ€™s hierarchy with a non-manipulative, wholly genuine choice of boyfriend, my good friend Mike. Mike is a year older (kudos points) Mike is tall about 6â€™4â€-ish (bonus points) Mike is handsome (kudos points) Mike is mysterious â€“ heâ€™s Canadian ( bonus kudos points) and Mike is a really nice guy (extra extra kudos points). Sheâ€™d be a dead-set danger if she wasnâ€™t going out with Michael, which places her in the safety zone â€“ the no-flirt, no-touch, sheâ€™s-taken zone. This of course doesn’t prevent me from occasionally noticing when she bestows one of her trademark come-hither-young-man glances upon him â€“ hip thrust to the side, head tilted ear to shoulder, killer shy/come-to-me combo smile. She doesnâ€™t have any idea that the effect is at once enchantingly sweet and devastatingly sexy â€“ she just knows it works. It works well. Poor Mike. The trouble with this one is that, even at our tender age, it is patently clear she is a keeper.
Fast forward to today. Mike didn’t marry Carita – well we were kids really weren’t we? Mike and Carita are still friends and its this friendship that enables me to re-connect with Carita via Facebook. For those of us who are distant from our homeland, our friends and family, Facebook is an invaluable connection point.
Life takes its toll on us all in many different ways, we all face situations and fortuitous events that change us and shape us. Some of us are fortunate and circumstances generally smile upon us, others seem to stumble from one test to another, others are ravaged by fate. Carita is a person to whom the latter category is applicable.
Given a magic wand there are many things that I would eradicate from the human experience – heartbreak, war, betrayal, religious zealots, debilitating illnesses, republicans etc… Chief amongst them would be this – that no child would pass away before his/her parents, as a parent, I can imagine no greater pain. Close behind this on my eradication list would be the indignities experienced by the dishonorable dissolution of a marriage. Particularly if it involves a relationship that spanned more than 20 years. Next on the list – facing the loss suffered by the passing of a parent. Carita has faced/is facing all of these. She has lived through some of my greatest fears.
To think that Carita’s story is one of unbearable pain, sorrow and misfortune would be completely understandable – but that’s not the way Carita sees it. Supported by loving parents, a son mature beyond his years and a veritable army of caring and fiercely loyal friends and colleagues she strides through life maintaining a positive outlook, exhibiting a strength of character and determined will that is genuinely inspiring.
When I started speaking with Carita I had no idea of her past and was going through my “Great Lost Love” episode. She was a great strength to me, listening patiently and dispensing advice that was supportive , understanding and enlightening. Carita hasn’t lost any of her joie de vivre and we often have conversations that are distinguished by the sheer amount of laughter we share. She is a beautiful, resilient, selfless woman. She is a joy to be with . You know that question? The one that asks “if you could have dinner with any four people from history who would they be?” Carita would be at my table. Passionate about art and the arts and especially passionate when speaking about the children she teaches (she is a first grade teacher) and the love of her life – her wonderful son Luis.
As our relationship developed and I got to know more about her past it became clear that my woes paled in comparison to hers. Led by her example my attitude changed and the way I look at life has drastically altered. I am a better person for knowing her and am grateful to her beyond words.
Carita remains to be (in her own words lifted from her facebook profile) – “A brash girl. Mother to bohemian boy. Proud mummy to the boy who had the life of Riley. Step mother to boho girl. Teacher and mentor to many. Frustrated actress, artist, altruist, antagonist, architect and academic.”
If I possessed a magic wand that could ensure someone had a charmed future filled with love, happiness and light – Carita, you would be on the top of my list – and no one would be more deserving.