When I moved to South State Street 18 years ago, I made a lot of new friends. New girlfriends, new couples, it was a virtual pupu platter of new pals who I really liked. Susan Fredriksen lived many doors south of me on State and she was one of them. I watched her house being built and I watched her move into the house with Roy Fox who later became her husband. In fact, I got one of my friends who was a Cook County judge to perform the ceremony.
Her house was quirky and filled with stained glass that she made herself. Including a house height colorful glass giraffe that adorned a window adjacent to a two story atrium dining room.
Susan was a psychiatrist. And she often took me to what we called "drug dinners." Dinners that sought to entertain and interest doctors in prescribing certain brands of psychotropic medications. We loved the food; they all took place in top-notch restaurants.
We walked in the evenings and we talked. We had great lives but life wasn't particularly easy for either of us.
It broke my heart when she and Roy decided to move to North Carolina. To a golfing community
. But we stayed long distance friends.
A couple named George and Tina bought her house. She begged me to be her attorney in her transaction. I agreed--and like every other time I made a friend happy and took on what should have been a simple closing, complications arose. George and Tina used a lawyer with whom I went to law school. So it was old home (and hell) week.
In a more dramatic coincidence, George and Tina, who I inherited as friends simply because they were living in Susan's house--which they completely and thoroughly gutted, removing all the quirky cool touches Susan had added so creatively--had a party and invited me. At the party (where the guest of honor was someone I had known well many years before), I overheard a guy in the kitchen talking to someone about "Valjean." He kept saying "Valjean this" and "Valjean that." In Chicago not many women are named Valjean--and I was really good friends with a Valjean in grammar school
and hadn't seen very much of her since; I'd lost complete contact with her about 30 years before. I turned and asked him if he was talking about my Valjean, which he was and I gave him my card and asked him to ask her to call me.
She did. And we renewed our little girl friendship as adults. And for five years, she was once again a fabulous friend--until she was diagnosed with lung cancer
and died a few months later.
In the meantime, George and Tina moved east and sold the house once again--to a nice young couple who now have two little kids. They decided to close up the atrium and add another bedrom on the second floor. And also to finish the part of the basement that George and Tina didn't. During this construction they uncovered three pieces of glass that Susan had made and somehow had left in the house; and so did Tina and George leave it in the house. Katharina, who now lives in the house, found out that the former resident of her house Susan and I had been very close friends and that Susan made stained glass.
And today, during our homeowners assocation garage sale in our alley at Plymouth and State, Katharina gave me the stained glass. In honor of my friendship with Susan. Another sweet and sentimental coincidence. Of course, I picked it right up and brought it right home.
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