I always told you I’d be here to celebrate your 60st birthday and I am terribly sorry I cannot make it.
In February 1994 I lived in a strange new country, not feeling at ease with the city and the language. Being totally frustrated, since I didn’t have a job, and studying to become an RN was boring, I responded to an ad in the Daily Bruin, in which someone was looking for an aide.
I called the number, couldn’t quite understand what was said (due to the Bi-PaP) and complied to a job interview- which was the start of a long friendship.
Our working relation was not always easy, me being an experienced nurse, thinking I knew perfectly well what was good for you, and you being DJ (need I say more?): my smartass patient who knew perfectly well what he wanted. And never the twain shall meet…
I clearly remember the day we had a fight and I was yelling at you. You calmly replied that you somehow understood what I meant, but could I please yell in English the next time I was mad at you?
I worked for you during the OJ Simson trial. We, together with your roommate Dennis, talked a lot about it. I ‘stupid white girl from Europe’ knew close to nothing and didn’t understand the impact of this trial. I learned so much from you. About the judicial system, American society, music, movies, really really bad TV shows (I can’t believe you still like them!)
And of course you taught me to love LA. We had a good time, even when we quarreled.
I learned to understand you, your eloquent use of the language. I remember you teaching me a new word every day. I helped you staying (sort of) healthy. I still do not approve of pizza for breakfast, but I did feed you lots of it. And the tiramisu which I sometimes made for you was probably even worse…
You helped me by sending me to ESL–class where I not only became more confident about my English, but also made lots of friends. You met quite a couple of them and we loved to party together.
You were concerned about me: you hated my smoking and bicycling to town.
Instead of a paying me a big salary, you introduced me to American culture: I remember getting tickets to the Alvin Ailey dancers in the Wiltern Theatre. You sent me to the To Night show when George Clooney was guest. And you were mad at me that I hadn’t asked for a picture- but I never was that keen of pictures like you… (and I was also a bit shyer than you)
We were and are friends. I’ll never forget the day that I turned up at your apartment clearly upset and you immediately canceled a date, mentioning that you had to stay home since your nurse really needed you that day…
You visited us twice in the Netherlands. We went to Amsterdam, Scheveningen and The Hague.
I remember John wanting my neighbors in Utrecht to play chess with him, and Baron who was looking forwards to a nice hotel bed, but ended up on a mattress on the floor… And yes: even then we quarreled. You had not arranged everything as I would have liked, but of course everything went smooth. Like you told me once: “who is going to stop a black man in a wheelchair?” So you succeeded in going to a totally sold out North Sea Jazz Festival without tickets…
We have been back to LA several times, and I always try to see you. Each time I’m amazed that you are still hanging in there, enjoying life. Every time I’m amazed by how you get me to work for you again: calling people to arrange dinners at places who do not take reservations, and are not well equipped for wheelchairs, but in the end we’re always having a good time.
I’m so happy that I read that tiny ad all those years ago. What a lucky girl I was to have met you and what a lucky woman I am to still know you.
I love you so much.
Thank you for teaching me how to love life.