An Apology To Grace

June 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Grace Fulkerson was my neighbor and my landlord for many years. It has been some time since she passed, following a long battle with lung cancer.

 An Apology to Grace

Your girl Tracy came by today and I thought of you, how courageously you fought your fight against cancer. I don’t know at what point you realized you were in a no win situation, that there was no outcome left other than acceptance, but your undefeated demeanor rubbed off on the rest of us, made us feel better about things from one day to the next. When I think back on it, on the progression of that illness through your fading body, I remember imagining what you must have been seeing: the end of this whole thing moving right toward you. And somehow, remarkably, your big heart held ground, as though to ward it off, shining all the more brightly in the face of it.         

Chain smoking, lesbian drinker, lovable slacker, collector of knick-knack Americana, den mother to a small nest of rent control tenants, lifers all in this cozy commune of yours, you seemed as genuinely happy to have us residing here, as we were to be in on such a sweet deal.   

I miss the warmth you lent the place, the sense of being one of the characters in your watchful world; the vibe that went beyond the obligatory transactions that pass between landlord and tenant, that imparted our six unit complex on 20th Street with a communal kind of aura. That world has passed, and I feel its absence now.                                            

You were a landowner in desirable Santa Monica, CA. But beside all that you possessed real wealth. And it wasn’t in a fistful of rent checks.         It’s clear to me now, through the wisdom that hindsight sometimes really does allow, the miracle of gentle courage that was unfolding as I watched your body fade and your spirit rise over it. Its warmth is still floating around here somewhere.

I was pretty blind to all of this at the time. In the same way I’m often blind to the goodness inside myself – the very thing that the kindness in your eyes assured me was there. A relentless kindness that never wavered in the face of my dim appreciation for who you were, for what you were about, and of what you were imparting to me. So maybe the best way to honor you isn’t to make a limp apology, but to believe that the love you sent streaming my way came with an illuminating purpose. A reminder you served that there is something redeeming in my being that draws love to it, that is worthy of it; and you weren’t a naïve dope whose love had been tricked into shining my way.    

I’ll work on that Grace, I really will try to fully accept the gift you left here for me. I can’t plead that I didn’t have instructions for how to make use of it. The truth is that it’s been sitting around all this time, and I haven’t bothered to open it. The good thing though about love, is that it doesn’t go bad, its power doesn’t stop flowing, even when it has been buried deep in some crevasse of memory, and ignored for what seems like a long time. What’s a long time to something outside of time, that’s been spoken in a language that flows only one way – outward, from one soul to another. And because of this, goes on, on forever.

Share