Monday, March 31, 2014

Remembering Brenda Palmisano

I broke into tears today thinking about an old friend. I was unpacking my art studio and came across a little African bandana that was given to me by Brenda Palmisano after her lover had taken her to South Africa on a final trip in the late stages of her pancreatic cancer. She had worn such cotton fringed scarves tied around her little bald head for that trip. It is old and crumpled now, that bandana, but alive with the power and the love that Brenda represented in my life, up until the end. Fitting that I packed it with the art supplies when I moved, as she was a Muse, an inspiration in my life. And she loved me with a child like loyalty that no-one has ever surpassed in my life.

I did a painting of the two of us, which I gave to her family later. We had returned from a backgammon tournament in Las Vegas, and we flopped on my sofa, akimbo in our Vegas summer duds, exhausted from too much booze and no sleep. I have no photo of that painting nor can I find a print of the photo I used for it. Her family lived in Passaic, N.J. and were salt of the earth. I never met a nicer family.

August 24, 2014 addendum. I found a photo of the painting! (not a very good painting but sentimental memories anyway)

Brenda wanted nothing more than children (which she never had) and her favorite nephew was her joy. "Who's the Precious Boy?" she would coo on the phone. She was full of mischief and glee, funny remarks and fractured English. She was a special light that went out at age 39, way before her time. No painting, but here's a photo of Brenda and I at the tournment, and another of her shortly before she died. Oh, and the poem I wrote for her back when.

I hope she knows how much she's missed. You have to get to the end to look back, it seems. All my dead seem to be calling to me this year.

(1946 - 1985)

She’s a Katzenjammer Kid
Full of funny-paper sass;
She’s a Gummy Bear with bearing;
She is Gidget -- smoking grass;
She’s a fun-house mirror
In a Catholic mass.

She’s a malaproppin’ mama,
who is sure an eyesight sore;
She’s a saboteur of syntax,
She’s authentic to the core.
She’s a private suite
Without a door.

She’s a gingerale and bourbon
In a Tom and Jerry cup;
She’s the tinsel trove of magpies.
She’s the shimmy in a pup.
She’s a fried egg sandwich
Sunny side up.

She’s a mini-skirted Merlin;
She’s a transcendental bawd.
She is consecrated worm food
In communion with the sod.
She’s the third eye
In the forehead of God.

Here is a LINK to an online memorial created. Vivani was, I believe, her real father's name. She adored her stepfather, Mr. Palmisano, however, and used his name throughout her lifetime.

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