But it's not. Today's the day my friend Pattie should be celebrating. A number she'd probably just refer to as being 'older than dirt.'
Only she isn't having a party. Still, I remember her. Here's a poem I wrote for her. It was in a beautiful chapbook called Chickweed, produced at St. Peter's Abbey in Muenster, Saskatchewan in October of 1999. Holly of Four Corner Books might even still have a copy or two. Here's the poem:
"Wind Chime Woman"
(for Pattie Cropas)
the wind chimes remind me
of you on lonesome nights
how many did we spend together
banishing demons or men for each other
laughing or crying on my porch or yours
mostly over cheques that bounced or never arrived
so why didn't you phone instead of going to that hotel
then sitting it out alone for three more tormented days
and how did you ever get yourself so many pills so many colours
you knew they'd wait til afternoon to open the door and find you
that they'd do your room last let you sleep in as long as you could
how they maids all loved you worried you tipped more than you should
I need to kid myself pretend you were wearing your soft turquoise robe
that your hair was arranged just how you wanted it to look
and for once I hear no pounding nails or cutting lawns or
too fast trucks driving down this narrow street of ours
just the storm blowing strong
through the wind chimes
And I can't help remembering the bill collector who phoned a couple of weeks after she was gone. I told the person that no, Pattie wouldn't be making a payment, even though there was an amount that was overdue. I told the person that someone I'd known and loved had eaten all those pills because she knew she couldn't pay her bills.