Tiea will even tell you that she knew the moment we said hello in that elevator that we would be lifelong friends. This is how our story goes.
I have had the loveliest of friends in my lifetime. Some I have picked like flowers from my garden and others that have picked me. The first time I set eyes on Tiea was in an elevator at the hospital. She was wearing a linen suit, it was summer and quite hot, she looked cool as a cucumber and she had this smile, the smile of someone that knows stuff. Tiea was the epitome of sexy. She had long slender legs, short skirts and high heels. She owned every length of pearls made, and had the perfect pair for each and every outfit, and she never would be caught dead with a run in her hose. She didn't own flip flops and she had a cat named Ted, and Ted had a cat named Bill and lived together with a crazy divorced gal with wild hair named Amanda Ruth in an adorable apartment in Grove Park. What I didn't realize was that she did not have a bit of insulation in that place and the winter breeze would actually billow the drapes! The first winter of our friendship I nearly froze to death. Tiea and I spent our first year as friends working the night shift. This was how we sealed our friendship as forever as we were totally engrossed in each other’s lives as only single women are capable of. We had no obligations to keep us from staying up late watching old movies and just hanging out as people with youth are prone to do. You can really get to know someone this way, and this is why our young friendships have so much depth. We cash in the time machine and whiddle away our time figuring each other out.
After working in the ER for 20 years together Tiea had to retire due to Polycystic Kidney disease. She is the single most brave and principled person I know and she would cut you in your sleep if you harmed one hair on the head of either of her nieces or her nephew. She loves her family enough to live 50 minutes away from them, and forbade them to ever drop in on her, and this is something one must never due because, " honey....it's rude you know. " Not that she ever had anything thing to hide, well most of the time anyway. She and I were perfect opposites, and we've had few cross words and many fits of absolute laughter. We've had the same dream on the same night, we've been accused of being lesbians, we've vacationed together quite harmoniously seeing that we never spent more than 30 minutes sitting together on the beach. Tiea only comes out before and after the sun has gone to sleep, where I prefer to sit, in the sand like a sugar cookie with a good book and a 6 pack of diet coke. That's another thing, she drinks Tea. Earl Grey, Sleepy time, or just Luiaziane Tea seeped in the sunshine, for her it is always Tea.
I've known Tiea to do just one illegal thing in her life, and that was the funniest ride to Dairy Queen I have ever had. She later moved in next door to me and shacked up with my neighbor David, who we both love to this day. We've had Valentines parties when there weren't any Valentines, we both love Dr. Berner our favorite ER personality and all the songs he sings and his marvelous boyish charm and the fact he is madly in love with his wife Lynn who followed him on her knees for so many years that he had to marry her. For Dan, the unrequited love affair of the the 90's and how it broke my heart that I bear a grudge to this day. He would never be worthy of her love, not in a million years. For Winston the dog who needed a jock, canasta for a whole summer, knitting, walking, waxing, and the drives to the country in the Miata were just moments of time passed in each other’s company. Of all the people I have know, she accepts me just as I am and wouldn't change a thing. She finds my children lovable and accepts my love for my husband without complaint. She is the very first person I called when I was so scared, as my husband lay dying with me powerless to help him. She held my cell phone so I could close my eyes and made sure the sheets were white and perfectly clean with a cat hair in sight. I understand that her Daddy singlehandedly won the Great War, and would never think otherwise. She and I actually have a song….”Why do Birds suddenly appear, every time you are near.”
I no longer talk or see Tiea every day, or every week, or every month. She is only 50 minutes away, but in my crazy life of mother to 4, wife to one, nurse to many it is hard to find a moment. But every once in a while it works out and we sit and laugh, and laugh, and laugh. Several months ago, I took my son to IHOP for a date and Aunt Tiea joined us…..I looked across the table and she was looking at him with such love in her eyes, and I again remembered why she is a girls very best friend!