Generally, I don’t answer a phone number that I don’t know. I look at it on the screen and I press a button that allows it to go to voicemail. If it’s someone I want to talk to they will leave a message and I will call them back. However, yesterday I answered the unknown number. I did this because I had spoken earlier in the day to my friend Stephen, who told me he was going to refer someone to me about having an exhibition, and I thought this phone number might be the exhibition contact.
When I answered the phone, I heard a deep male voice with a slight accent. “Dana?” The male voice said strongly. Normally I would be afraid of an unknown male voice from an unknown number, saying my name but somehow I wasn’t. “Yes, this is Dana“
“Dana, it’s Mark“
“ Mark!? How nice to hear your voice. It’s nice to hear from you.”
“Yes, it’s nice to hear your voice too”. Mark was someone I dated 30 something years ago. We are both still in the same area but haven’t seen each other for a good 20 something years.
“How are you?”
“I’m fine I’m fine… But I have some bad news….Susan died”
“What!!?? I just saw her at the museum last month. She looked great. We’d plan to get together to go to her and Tom’s next music event. I’d hope to see you there.”
“Yes, yes I know she told me you might come. She died this morning.”
“An infection that went septic”. I Think that’s what he said, and I don’t really know what that means but I know it happens and I know it’s inexplicably horrible. Even though Sue is very seldom in my life. I feel a pit deep in my stomach. I keep thinking how could such a thing happen? She was so bright and so positive, and so talented and so engaged helping in her community.
She is the reason I had the wonderful studio warehouse space at 16th and Valencia which changed my life. She interviewed me and accepted me as the fourth partner. Soon after that, she hired a moving company which joisted her letterhead press out of the second floor window onto a truck and drove it and her with all her possessions to Vallejo, where she moved in and married Tom.
She came to my recent open studio and gave me her newest book of poetry. She bought my newest book of paintings. It was a generally an all-around good feeling to see her after so many years. I was looking forward to reconnecting. When we had the chance meeting at SFMOMA, she looked the same. Her body posture was the same, her bright smile was the same. Older but the same.
Talking to Mark, I mentioned that she had a child.
“Yes” Mark said “She’s 20 now”
‘“Oh, how terrible… That’s the age you were when you lost your mother, right?”