In March of 1964 I arrived at the Hart’s home to live as a foster child and that was the first time I met Claudia.
She was twelve and I was ten and years later she told me, she wasn’t sure she liked me. She was expecting someone smaller and I was bigger than her and well not exactly what she was expecting as a little sister.
For the next six years of our lives we would be roommates and we would learn to adapt with each other’s habits.
Claudia has a lot of stuff and she would put her stuff all over our room and even on my bed. It was not uncommon before I would climb into bed at night to grab my bedspread and shake all her stuff to her side of the room. It never bothered her, she would just climb over all the stuff, and get into her bed.
Many nights we would tune our transistor radio to listen to KRLA AM our radio listening station of choice. Our favs then were the Beatle, Beach Boys, Rolling Stone, Mary Ann Faithful, and Joni Mitchell. Many times Billie would knock on our door to remind us….it was time to sleep and turn off the radio.
We had photos of Beatles all over our room. I was going to marry Paul and she George, as he was the thinker, and must be really smart. We went to see the movie “Hard Day’s Night” together at least 10 times. Paying only 50 cents to get in, and then we would stay to see it over and over again, screaming so much that we could hardly speak when it was time to go home.
Summers were spent at the cabin in Wrightwood, reading Nancy Drew books up in the loft, taking turns sharing kitchen duties, riding motorcycles on the desert and learning to build fires in the wood stove…
We would also take off and have adventures on our own, without the family, hiking the mountains, building dams in the stream to make pools to swim in on hot summer days.
We would collect pine cones, pine needles and rocks, to create nature art, being open to all possibilities.
And each day we would make the two mile round trip walk to town…. looking for boys. We never talked to them, we just looked and they looked back. There were also Saturday night dances in town, with a glimmering hope we would be asked to dance.
In the summer we spent hours swimming together in the pool at our home in Hacienda Heights. We’d pretend to be mermaids, diving for pennies, and challenging each other to see how long we could stay underwater holding our breathes. We also learned how to do trick diving off the diving board.
Billie taught us to sew, and in the summer we would walk down to TG&Y the dime store to get our patterns and fabric, to sew clothes for the summer and for school.
When Claudia was a Senior and I was a freshman, we even went to the Senior Prom together. Well we did have dates, but we weren’t going steady with any of these boys, they were just our friends. We were so excited about getting dressed up, doing our hair, and of course dancing.
Claudia attended Mt Sac College to become a LPN. She couldn’t afford a car, as she did not have a job, and no one would buy her a car, so she would ride the yellow Yamaha that we would ride on the desert in the summer. Claudia was so cute wearing her helmet in her nurse uniform, riding that Yamaha to college.
1971 she got married to John had soon after had John JR…. and after that we did not spend as much time together.
In the 1980 with three children and a new man in her life Steve Ray, they all moved to Washington to live with me and family. We shared our home for a while in Olympia; there were three of us and five of them a total of eight. Steve finally found a job, and they moved to their own home to live in.
The Claudia I Knew Was
When she had her mind set
She worked hard to accomplish the goal
It was hard to change her mind
She loved gardening
And those less fortunate
She was giving
And loved her family, very much…..
I was so lucky to have her in my life…
The Dash by Linda Ellis 1996
I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
from the beginning…to the end.
He noted that first came the date of birth
and spoke the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time
that they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own,
the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.
So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
that can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
to consider what’s true and real
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect
and more often wear a smile,
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy is being read,
with your life’s actions to rehash…
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent YOUR dash?