|I recently found one of my old Vivienne Tam dresses.
It still fits!
Many moons ago Rosie O’Donnell lived in a small river town not too far from my own. Rumor had it that she was often visible, but not always approachable. At the time her children were very young, and, as a parent myself, I can understand the need she must have felt to protect them and have a somewhat normal existence with them whether at home or out doing regular things.
Around this time I was in my early 20’s and, since I was newly legal drinking age and said river town had lots of spirited establishments, I spent many nights there hanging out with friends at poetry night in a chic coffee beer bar that I finagled my way into bar tending on Sunday mornings. It was the late 90’s and I was going through my just out of college too cool for anything mainstream phase. I dressed in lots of funky Vivienne Tam and smoked cloves (which I never inhaled, seriously, someone told me not to). Also around this time I was dealing with the very painful loss of my grandmother. We had been very close and after 18 months of fighting, she lost her battle with lung cancer 6 months before I graduated college.
My grandmother was widowed very young. She was a tough woman with very strong opinions, however, her lack of a driver’s license made her slightly dependent on others, and so my mother had her move in with us while she was sick. I knew she was in pain, but she never let on. She spent her days snacking on expensive lox that my mother would buy especially for her and watching what she called her pictures (that would be classic movies to you and I). This was when Rosie had her talk show, and a huge part of Nanny’s (that’s what we called her) routine was watching her in the AM. Nanny loved to sing, Rosie loved to sing, and so I would listen to the two of them croon together every morning. It was a welcome sound, as my grandmother seemed very happy when she did this ritual, despite her pain and nausea from chemotherapy.
One summer Tuesday night, after the poetry reading, I went with some friends to a very popular Mexican restaurant. Word around town was it was Rosie’s favorite place, (it was also where I had the Mango Margarita of Death I tweeted about last Friday). From the bar my friend noticed Rosie sitting with her children, Kelli (who was her partner then) and some male friends. “Go tell her about your grandmother,” my friend chirped. “Oh no way,” I argued, “she’s with her children, and I heard she does not like being approached in public.” My friend insisted that my story about my sick grandmother singing with Rosie was too lovely not to share, and, against my wishes, she went up to Rosie on my behalf. Surprisingly she, Rosie, requested I come over. I told her my story, about how my grandmother was so special and that some of my best last memories were of her singing along to the television every morning. Rosie was touched and asked my grandmother’s name. The next day I wasn’t able to watch the Rosie show, however I’ve always wondered if my Nanny Marlena was mentioned.
This story has been very clear in my mind since the news of Rosie’s recent heart attack. I wish you well Rosie, thank you for cheering up my Nanny all those years ago.