Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

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Bea handed me a small and intricately wrapped box on December 26th.  It was our Christmas celebration, since she was in LA for the 25th and didn’t fly east to be with us until the next day.  We had a big family meal with some cousins planned at our favorite Long Island restaurant for the 27th and a bacon-wrapped turkey dinner in the wings for the 29th.  Everyone wanted to to see her, to spend time with her, to take pictures with her and give her some presents.  But when she first arrived at my sister’s house, where the twins and I were spending the whole long Christmas break, it was just the five of us.  My sister.  The twins.  Bea.  Me. 

I gave her the presents I had managed to buy for her with my meager earnings.  The twins and my sister Gloria gave her their gifts.  There was a fire in the fireplace, laughter in the house, a happiness that had been absent from the family holiday celebrations Bea had missed.  She gave me a photo album, unwrapped with just a red shoelace holding it closed,  that made me cry.  It was filled with pictures of the two of us together on one side of each page and a brief description on the other side.  It was beautifully, painstakingly decorated with shells and stickers, beads and images that meant something to both of us.  The first picture was of me in a softball uniform with Bea, 2 years old, sitting on my lap.  We’re at a cafe after a game.  She’s smiling impishly and drawing with a broken blue crayon.  “My Favorite Picture of Us,” it says in magic marker on the facing page.  The words are surrounded by stick-on, 3-D butterflies.

There’s a photo of us in Aunt Gloria’s pool.  There’s one of us on a kiddie roller coaster and two of us together at the Early Show, from when she used to come with me to work.  There’s one of the two of us at Legends Field in Tampa.  She’s maybe seven weeks old.  Her first of many Yankee games.  The second to last page is a list of “A Few Reasons Why I Love You.”  A few.  There are 21.  I counted.  And the last page has a pretty, multi-layered heart, the kind you might use on a homemade valentine, with love always written in script.  It’s signed, simply, bea bea.  Because that’s what I call her.

And then, almost as an afterthought, she handed me the little box.  I wiped away the tears the photo album visited upon me and bravely soldiered on.  A little box, that rattled curiously when I shook it.  The wrapping peeled away easily and found its way to the fire.  “A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor,” she had written on the lid.  And, “Be strong, mom.  I’m proud of you.”  The lid slid right off.  Inside was a crystal clear memory of happier times.  Or were they happier?  It was when her other mother and I were pretending to get along.  It was when we both had jobs.  It was when we had a house that felt permanent, like a warm wool sweater that would last a lifetime.  I smiled at all the smooth, cool pieces of sea glass.  Bea had been collecting them for me.  The edges were softened, like the memories of our turbulent past, when half our lives seemed to be filled with arguments, disagreement, disappointments, when walks along the shoreline were my refuge from the craziness that had become my life.

Bea would come with me sometimes, hold my hand, watch the sand for a dull glint of green or white or, miracle of miracles, blue.  We’d go to Cape Cod every August, to Provincetown to spend a week with other same-sex couples and their kids.  Herring Cove was where we would gather almost every afternoon.  Once the twins were a part of the family we’d set up a tent for the babies and little kids, a place to keep them safe from the crispiness of the baking sun.  Soon, they were old enough to walk along the shoreline, too.  Every single piece of sea glass was cause for celebration.  Every tide pool along the way was a rest stop on the journey to find a tiny bit of quiet, a few moments of peace.  It was on these leisurely but adventurous strolls that I first began writing my memoir in my head, Bea perched upon my tanned shoulders, wearing a sunhat and a long-sleeved white shirt to cover her peachy skin.  She’d hold on for dear life as I carefully bent to reach for what might or might not be the highly coveted glow of old glass.  If we found a piece that was still jagged and clear we’d throw it back in, declaring it not quite ready for the collection.

Once, Bea and I decided that the coolest piece of sea glass we could possibly find would be an old marble that had somehow found its way into the waves.  So we bought a bagful and tossed them in, thinking, one day, maybe we’d discover them again, perfectly round and muted and smelling of the ocean.  We figured, even if we never did find one again, someone might, and that would be truly awesome for them.  It was our small contribution to future sea glass collectors everywhere.

The box trembled in my hand.  The good memories it brought back far outweighed the bad.  I could smell Cape Cod Bay.  I could feel the summer sun warming my tired bones.  The waves were licking the shoreline like a still-blind kitten finding and tasting its mother.  The kites were dancing happily, crazily in the on-shore breeze.  The girls, all three of them, were small enough for me to scoop up together in one giant, delicious group hug, golden sand falling from their hair and tiny feet.  I thanked my kid for knowing me, for understanding the sweetness of sentimentality and bringing back to me those warm and happy thoughts.

I’m planning to go back to Provincetown some summer, soon.  With all of my girls.  For lobster and clam chowder and sunburned friends and quiet days at the beach.  For finding crabs in tide pools and fishing and swimming and shopping on Commercial Street.  For dunes and bicycles and drag queens in comedy shows.  And maybe, for one perfectly round, weathered piece of sea glass.  A muted orb.  A circle.  Like life.

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Two hikers yesterday found a badly decomposed body believed to be that of Nobel Prize-winning hermit author Kimberly Miller, near a cabin she was believed to have purchased 25 years ago, in 2014.  The body was tentatively identified because of the hearing aids still inserted in its crumbling ears and because the shredded clothing seemed to resemble the outdoorsy and comfortable sportswear preferred by the 81-year-old writer.  An initial report by the county coroner states the probable cause of death as simply falling peacefully asleep in a cedar Adirondack chair in the woods and then lacking the will to ever wake up.

 


 

If the body does indeed prove to be that of Kimberly Miller she will be sorely missed.  Although she lead a primarily reclusive life she was known to come out of hiding twice a year, in the spring to direct the elementary school play and also in the fall to run the middle school book fair, where she always read from her favorite books, some which she had written but mostly those she hadn’t.  She usually gave out Scholastic gift cards to unsuspecting parents who seemed to be unable to purchase all the actual books in which their children showed a true interest.  At last year’s book fair, Ms Miller threatened to start a bonfire with electronic reading devices if one more student came in and asked if there were any for sale there in the school library.

 

 

Kimberly Miller published only three books in her short writing career, which started in her 50s after she could no longer find work as a TV stage manager and her friends told her to give that up and do what she loved best.  The first was a faux-memoir entitled Joke’s On Me about her feeble attempts to live a wholesome and genuine life in a world polluted by greed and posers.  The second was a novel called Searching For Sea Glass, about a nightclub DJ who goes completely deaf at the age of 32 and moves to Cape Cod to find herself.  Her final book was published without her consent, when someone found a stash of her poetry in her paper recycling bin and decided to sneak it to her editor, whom Kimberly promptly fired.

 

 

She leaves behind three amazing daughters; Beatrice, the rock star who gave up fame and fortune in 2025 to form a non-profit group that provides food, clean water and education to children, mostly girls, worldwide; Georgia, the award-winning biochemist who discovered the all-natural combination of herbs and spices that can completely cure any form of cancer, who hid out for a year in her mom’s cabin when she brought about the fall of the USDA and the CDC and the entire pharmaceutical industry and there was a price on her head until the public became aware of the sinister plot and promised to protect her wherever she went; and Esther, the Olympic gold medalist in synchronized swimming and the founder of Tom.Boy.Sport, a clothing line exclusively for young girls who want to dress like young boys.  Miller is also survived by the two perfect husbands and one perfect partner of her children, her 5 grandchildren, three of whom were adopted from Vietnam and by her niece, Mariel, the EMT famous for saving the life of President Tao’s daughter in 2019 and her nephew, Michael, who invented a way for fantasy football computer clicks to pay for athletic shoes for needy children.  The entire family would gather at Kimberly’s cabin every year for Christmas and July 4th celebrations.

 

 

Once the final determination has been made about the identity of the body, almost certainly that of the writer Kimberly Miller, arrangements will be made.  It’s a well known fact that Ms Miller desired to be cremated and have a pinch of her ashes secreted away somewhere in Yankee Stadium and another pinch rubbed into the dirt between first and second base of Softball Field 1 in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.  Her dog and her cat are being fostered until her children arrive.  In lieu of flowers, the family will probably ask for a food or tequila donation to be made to Kim’s New Orleans Jazz-style funeral/remembrance party, but only if you attend and have a great time.