Last February right before Valentine’s Day was a perfect day for me.
My neighbor, Janice, had a “Valentine’s Day” luncheon for a few friends. I could attend because I became disabled 18 months previously and lost my job. I had major surgery for a rare spinal arteriovenous malformation and woke up paralyzed.
After 30 years of working for two banks and a credit union, my world changed in August 2010. I entered a world the likes of which I had never known.
I could walk slowly and had use of my right arm. I couldn’t drive a car, but I could drive a golf cart to Janice’s house. I wore pink as suggested in the invitation. Wildlife artist Anne Worsham Richardson, who died in September, was one of the guests, and I was excited to meet her. Along with Edith and Deborah, we all sat like ladies chatting until time for lunch.
Deborah gave each one a heart-shaped box of chocolates. Janice served a lovely salad, delicious chicken casserole and a dessert of fresh fruit parfait with a divine slice of pound cake, all on fine china.
Between bites, I learned Anne was drawing by the age of 4 in a high chair by the kitchen window, watching the birds feasting on cornbread placed on an outdoor shelf.
Anne told us of how her husband stopped her from wearing a leather coat to go bird watching. In 1943 during World War II, a Nazi SS officer came swooshing in wearing a long leather coat into his classroom in Poland. Each boy over age 16 had to put their hands on the desk, and if they were large enough to hold a rifle, they were ushered off to enlist in the German Army. With his family informed of his leaving only by a dispatcher, he spent the next two years in Italy. He told Anne he could still smell the leather from the SS officer’s coat.
After World War II, Edith was a jazz singer in a local Charleston band scheduled to play at the Naval Hospital. Two of the players got sick, forcing them to cancel. Well, the admiral intervened and pulled a drummer and saxophone player from the Navy Band. The saxophone player felt it was beneath him, and he showed his displeasure. Edith gave him a piece of her mind right back; she said they have been married more than 30 years.
Janice updated us on her role in the upcoming opera “Carmen” and the local effort to start an opera company.
Deborah told us about a recent stay at a relative’s house. She was awakened by the sound of the doorbell, the phone ringing and the husband calling out to his wife to get the phone. It was all done by the bird in the house. She said it was a yellow-headed (and Anne knew the name) “Amazon parrot.”
Anne told us she had more than 3,000 paintings to her credit. How embarrassed I was to ask her if her gallery remained open and to find out it was still on Church Street. I had to admit I had never visited it. Anne then pulled out her dossier, and as we all admired her art, she proceeded to give one to each of us.
I was speechless. My print was of Anne’s parrot, Miss Scarlett. Using a mirror, she had taught the bird to say “Scarlett” to her image. After completing a watercolor of the bird, she showed it to her, and the parrot said, “Scarlett.”
Deborah played the piano, and we listened to her renditions of “Beauty and the Beast” and “Over the Rainbow.” Edith and Janice sang along.
For the first time in a long time, I was glad I did not have a job to go to, for this had been a wonderful day, an enlightening day, a perfect day. The soft rain came, and we all returned home.
Tina Doscher lives in West Ashley with her husband, Ricky, and their pet Lab, “Stono.” She volunteers in schools, with the American Red Cross and is active with the local Air Force base as a member of its Community Advisory Board.