She had been a great beauty in her time. After a failed marriage and the disintegration of her relationship with her only son, she had several relationships with very wealthy men. She was a gorgeous “trophy” girlfriend. They took her to exclusive restaurants – and all over the world, staying in the finest hotels, sailing on the most luxurious ships and bought her jewels, clothes — gave her money and anything else she wanted.
When I met Lee she was far beyond her prime. She reminded me of a tiny, old silent screen star – long bleached blonde hair, wearing heavy eye makeup and inappropriate clothing which ranged from glitzy outfits to cowboy attire with lots of fringe.
She was a fascinating character with many stories to tell so she was fun to be around. Sometimes, when she reminisced, she talked about one of her favorite places – the Capri Palace Hotel at the top of Anacapri Mountain with spectacular views over the Bay of Naples. But she had seen and done it all.
She latched on to me as a prospective drinking buddy. Decided I was a perfect candidate. I lived nearby and was single. But I could not go beyond one or two drinks at the Pump Room, which was a geriatric singles bar on Friday nights. I was a big disappointment to her when I left early.
One morning, she called to ask me how she happened to have 50 balloons in her apartment when she woke up. I didn’t know since I had left at 9 PM. There were no balloons around at that time. Since she knew every bartender in Chicago, I suggested she make a few calls to solve the after 9 PM mystery. She hung up on me. Later, she told me she still liked me but I wasn’t much of a sport. I plead guilty to the charge.
Lee always had a scheme of how she would make millions with a new idea. She was smart but not a good business person. She always lost money when they failed. She never looked back. Just went on to the next. Then, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her doctors offered many options from surgery to chemotherapy to radiation.
She refused them all — instead, she decided to live the way she always did. She bought expensive new clothes and booked a three week luxury cruise to the Orient. She gave herself an extravagant 70th birthday lunch in an exclusive restaurant. It was over $100. a person. Of course, we all had to pay the bill. But, that was Lee.
She was well for about a year until the cancer took over. She was dying and had no resistance to it happening. Although she had regrets about the lack of communication with her son and his children, she felt she had not missed a thing in her life. She had been everywhere, done everything. There was nothing else to do. A few days before she died, she called me and asked me to come to see her.
When I arrived, she was in full makeup and dressed in a beautiful silk nightgown. Her mind was very clear. She came right to the point. She said, “I have always thought when you died, you just went into the ethers of the Universe and were no more. I want to know what you think.”
I told her I thought that our identity lived on in spirit. In thought. And that there was a life that was lived on the other side. We talked about the Robin Williams movie, What Dreams May Come, where we could create anything we wanted with our thoughts. She liked that idea. She said, “I want to live in a beautiful hotel, have all the money I want and order anything I need from room service!” Then, she added, “And if that movie is true, I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll get back to you somehow and let you know.”
A year later, I went to the ceremony in the cemetery to dedicate her stone. I had heard nothing from her. Afterwards, there was a lunch. Her son had come with his children. We were all sitting around during dessert telling “Lee stories.” There were so many wonderful and outrageous ones! Her little eight year old grandson was sitting across from me at the table. He had seldom seen his grandmother.
All of a sudden, he piped up. “I had a dream about my grandmother last night.” We stopped to let him talk. He continued, “I dreamed she was very happy. She was living in a beautiful hotel that was very high on a mountain. You could see all around from that hotel.”
People like Lee leave a big hole in our energy system when they depart this world. They are not ordinary and take up a lot of space that needs to be replaced. I miss her. So does everyone else who knew this extraordinary and flamboyant character.
She never got a Ph.D. but she used her gifts to get along in life. Beauty, charm, intelligence and a lack of fear to take chances. Some may regard these as shallow, but who are we to judge someone who did the best they could with what they had? I am happy she is in Capri. She loved it there.
Thanks for getting back to us, Lee. You kept your promise.
This story was written by Corinne Edwards who has traveled several life paths – from travel agency owner, to sales trainer, author, lecturer, life coach, TV host – and now a self-improvement blogger. If you’re interested in learning more from or about her, you can visit her blog.