When I was a young girl there was an amazing human in my life. Her name was Roxanne.
She and my mother were in a mahjong group together. If I listen carefully to my mind’s eye I can still hear the tiles as they would gently slide across the table and click slowly into place.
All of them bound by a unique organization called Hadassah.
The word Hadassah itself translates from the Hebrew word meaning: compassion. Which further explains the namesake of the organization that is run in Israel known as Hadassah.
With compassion I write tonight.
I thought a great deal about Roxanne this past week.
I had the opportunity to spend time with my thirteen year old niece who is a wonderful young lady. It’s crazy for me to stop and look back upon my memories with her. We met when she was six months old, a tiny sleeping baby in a crib visiting her Grandparent’s and Uncle Andy with her mother. Now she is a tall, beautiful, smart, sarcastic, and quick-witted teenager making her way in the world.
I thought of Roxanne when I drove to pick up my niece that morning.
Her small stature. Her quiet mischievous grin when I knew we were about to embark on an adventure together.
The little girl with the long brown hair and dimple that flashed with glee upon entry to her home.
She was the mother of two boys, always wishing for a girl to dote upon. She later became an amazing grandmother to a lucky little girl who I am sure felt the same way I did when spending time with this woman.
I was such a lucky girl circa at the age of six.
I so admired her immaculate persona, the air of Chanel on her person, Gucci hanging from her arms, and the red nails like slippers donned upon each finger tip.
What I loved most of all about her was how she made me feel.
They say that what people remember most about you is how you make them feel. It is ever so true friends.
She always made me feel like a talented princess. Roxanne had this special way of creating a make-believe world in her basement with me. I would dress up and march around waving my imaginary scepter, and she played along as a royal subject. Pink cheeks, singing Disney songs, and bouncing from couch to couch.
Little did she realize that along with my parents, especially my mom, they all helped set the stage for my belief in the magic of the theatre. I was a tiny star in her living room creating a world of imagination and ruling the castle one couch at a time.
I can fondly recall upon one play date when her husband came home and threw on his Groucho Marx mask and wig. I was scared out of my wits and jumped into this tiny woman’s lap. She laughed and laughed and yelled at her husband Gary to take off the mask while I squealed into her chest.
Another special event took place on a gray spring Anchorage day. Dad dropped me off and went about whatever errands he and my mom had to take care of that afternoon. I spent the day with Roxanne watching a Disney film, playing on the kitchen table while she prepped a meal for lunch. Then suddenly she looked at me and said, “Do you hear that? It’s the ice cream man!” She rushed me outside with her, she darted past the rain puddles and into a stream of sunshine. The rainbow sherbet pop wasn’t the greatest treat that day. It was the memory that became nestled into my brain instead. Now, I think of her when I see raindrops and sunlight touch, meeting again for a moment back in that afternoon sky.
Sometimes I think I can see her in a crowd. That shoulder length reddish-brown hair with the crisp blunt edges swaying just above a black turtle neck sweater and Chanel-esque cardigan.
She wrote to me at sleep away camp in 1997. I was in the grim years of my life, the early teens, the awkward age of 13. This time was marked by training bras, awaiting the time when I would finally become a woman…oh we ladies know what I am talking about…
My mom called and asked her to write because even back then, I had quite a mighty sword with my pen.
I wrote to my parents telling them how homesick I was. How alone I felt. That I had no friends and no one to talk to. This was all true the first of the three weeks of camp. I slowly fell into a rhythm and made a couple of friends. But this is a story for another blog post.
The point was that Roxanne was there when it was needed.
She even wrote me as a pen pal the first year we moved to our new lower 48 state home. I should dig out those letters sometime. I have them all still, along with all my other correspondence over the years with friends and family.
Taking my niece out for a girls date of coffee treats, mall shopping, and laughing made me ache with a desire to call my sweet Roxanne and say thank you.
Thank you for making me feel beautiful when I was an ugly duckling waiting to blossom.
Sometimes life deals you these cards that are just glaringly unfair.
I wish there was a magic eight ball of time that I could shake and go back to that place and find her and embrace her and say all that is on my mind.
However, that’s not the case. It’s not possible. As much as I wish it were.
So instead, I laughed with my niece that day, and I looked at her with love in my eyes. I hug those moments in time when we can laugh like I did with Roxanne and enjoy the simple things about being a girl. Discuss the in’s and outs of life as we pass by glittering dresses we hold up for one another and joke about trying the ridiculous attire on.
Roxanne, you made me feel beautiful. Your spirit comes forth whenever I see a rainstorm pass over and the sunshine through the clouds.
I can only hope that one day my niece might think back and say, “Aunt Rachel made me feel beautiful and loved.”
Sparkles for Roxanne.