Other opportunities presented themselves for Paulina and I to stay together: weekends, workshops, but I managed to present believable reasons as to why I could not share residential spaces or hotel rooms with her. I do believe she appreciated my setting boundaries.
Another issue with her was, being 5 years older than me, musical tastes. She had missed the musical revolution. When sharing a dinner out, she couldn't abide any "loud" music. Our definitions of loud were 100 miles apart. The gentlest of Beatles songs would set her teeth on edge and many a time she'd summon our server and politely request the music be turned way down. Some would protest about the lack of ambience and managers instructing them otherwise. Some talked mood. But she was adamant. A few times I asked her if she would be more comfortable leaving. But she'd stick it out. Oddly enough it didn't irritate me. I felt enormous compassion, for in my heart I knew she felt noise and scents more keenly than I ever would. And I had far more ease navigating the world than she did.
We grew closer, she never stopped learning and became an expert on conflict resolution and very respected in that profession and it kept her very busy. I don't think in all the time I knew her, did she ever lose her temper. Or get angry. She worked very hard in different disciplines like Reiki and Therapeutic Touch and would go out of her way to help those in pain and distress.
She didn't watch TV or indulge in newspapers or novels but read self-improvement books continually. These were passed on to me with a note to read them too, and subsequently pitched aside by me when I got home as I defined them as "Self-Help Hell". I told her my escapism was into fiction and tossed some books her way but I knew she felt as I did about hers and these books never had her eyes fall on them.
Our bonding was based on trust. She trusted me implicitly and gave me more and more of her business to take care of including a large downtown store with a board of directors sometimes at odds with each other. We confided in each other at a deep level. Including our issues with our adult children and our infatuation with our adored grandgirls.
One major issue I had was with my adult daughter that became completely out of hand for a while. I challenged Paulina to solve it, to find some resolution to our ongoing battling.
Oh, I wish all conflicts were as easy as that! She responded, laughing.
As I see it, she said, your daughter rents an apartment from you, your daughter is also an employee, you're also, basically, co-parenting your grandchild, and you're also mother to your daughter. So now you have 4 hats. Landlord, employer, child carer and mother. So every time you deal with your daughter you tell her what hat you're wearing.
And Reader, it worked. There was no longer this muddling, every-angry-issue-ever-raised with Daughter and me. Peace reigned.
We shared intimate personal stuff we shared with very few in the world. We understood each other and had huge respect for one another. And could do that wonderful thing: laugh at ourselves and each other's foibles and quirks without fear of offence.
For instance she couldn't abide coffee. But, oh boy, herbal tea and lemon water to start her day were de rigeur. Richard, her partner, loved his morning coffee, dark beans, fresh ground, strong. If he was home, he would make it for me, if he was going to be out, she would instruct him to put it into a thermos for me. She just about gagged at the smell, but wore a lovely, bemused tolerance on her face and a slight eye roll :" "You Two!"
She met Richard in New York at a conference. She put her eye on him at a workshop and as the group of thirty were crossing the street to go to the theatre that night on Broadway she linked her arm to his and said "I believe you and I are together from now on." He was ten years younger, tall, handsome, very British. And they were together for over 40 years when she died. And incredibly content in each other's company: supportive of each other and the most important quality to me: respectful. Always respectful. I truly envied the way they looked at each other.
To be continued