My new friend Mavis died yesterday. This is a picture of Mavis with my other new friend, Barbara, at January’s lunada. The lunadas are at Mavis/Barry’s house, Mavis being the mother of Barry, the head geezer in my geezer band, Harmony Roads. Barbara, the only other chick in the band and not really a geezer … yet … has known Mavis since Barbara moved to Costa Rica 39 years ago.
To me, Mavis is an inspiration, La Reina (lah ray-EE-nah, the queen) of Costa Rica’s expats. She’s lived here so long, it’s hard to think of her as an expat, an outsider. Particularly since, along with her son, Rick and her daughter-in-law Karen, she wrote The Ticos, Culture and Social Change in Costa Rica. Published in 1998, it is a fantastic resource. Even though it’s non-fiction, I actually thoroughly skimmed it. (The only books I read cover-to-cover these days are bodice-rippers. Sad, but true. Blame it on Jan.)
I met Mavis a few months ago at a book club meeting at her house. She was the one who read the poem about Carrots Fucking The Earth. I loved her immediately and decided to do whatever it took to hang out with her. I have a penchant for LOLs (little old ladies). Like Sandford, my Key West mom. Sandford and I had sushi every week for 17 years. She just celebrated another birthday and is well into her 80’s. Then there’s Jo, my other Key West LOL of many many years… The fact is some LOLs know some very useful stuff. Stuff you only learn by living a really, really long time.
Mavis, a prolific writer, had just started a writer’s group, planning to meet every two weeks at her house. There were five of us: Barbara, Mavis, Jo Stuart, Sandy and me. I’m not sure how I got in this group… I can’t even identify a subjective tense. Maybe they didn’t know that. But I do write, sometimes endlessly… that must qualify me. I secretly think Mavis felt about me like I did her: energía simpática. The few times we were together, we laughed a LOT. The first writer’s group meeting was a week ago last Tuesday. We each read something we’d written – I read This Ain’t No Workout-Time, a post that got us all laughing. They, on the other hand, read stuff that could actually get published… I was impressed.
Mavis looked a little peaked at the meeting. Two days later she was in bed and in CIMA two days after that. I visited Monday. Every breath was a struggle, I never expected she’d live through the night. But I underestimated her like we tend to do LOLs. Mavis’ family was getting to Costa Rica as fast as they could, the last arriving yesterday morning. She very generously decided to wait. As soon as they were all there, holding hands around her, she took her leave. Talk about living to the end. I aspire to this.