'It will remind you of the laughs ...'
Mar 27, 2011
- Brice Stump
It is a bit bigger than a basketball, this weathered, once white and blue wooden ball that was sold to me as a genuine Confederate cannonball.
Several years ago, a vendor at the flea market in Salisbury was offering it for $100. Cheap, he said, for such a rare Civil War artifact.
Well, I never heard of wooden cannonballs. The vendor said it was the material of choice when the Confederates had exhausted their supply of the real-deal solid iron ones.
While I was wrangling with this unlikely story, my friend, Kathy Day, became involved in my transaction. While the vendor insisted it was an authentic artifact of war, I sure had my doubts and Cathy, as surprised as I on hearing that this heavy, really heavy and dense wooden ball was once fired from a cannon, encourage me to buy it.
But $100 for a wooden ball of very doubtful provenance? About a half-hour into the debate, Kathy had me laughing with her suggestions on what to do with it once purchased. By the end of our laughing, I felt like I had gotten $100 worth of good times out of it.
"Buy it and put it in your living room and every time you see it, it will remind you of the laughs we had about it," she said.
So for the discounted price of $90, I was the owner of an expensive piece of woodstove fuel or a neat piece of American history.
The years have passed, and every time I look at that darn heavy ball, I find myself smiling or even laughing.
Over the years, I have bought a number of items from Cathy who dealt in upscale jewelry, silver, jade and interesting antiques. Each purchase took all my energy to negotiate a deal, and sometimes, as the late Salisbury historian Dick Cooper told me, "the juice ain't worth the squeezin'." Yet, buy or not, I did get more than my share of laughter out of witty haggling with the flea market queen.
She was a loyal follower of my work and a regular reader of this column. She was also a real friend. I have known Kathy and her husband, Michael, for years, and both certainly have added color, flair and substance to my life.
And then, just a weekend ago, Michael told me Kathy had died.
Cancer, which had claimed her good, antique-loving friend, Patsy Lowe, a few years ago, also claimed Cathy.
It all happened so fast. A pain in the back was diagnosed as a symptom of cancer, a diagnosis that revealed that she was consumed by it.
In days, she was gone.
To each life, if we are lucky, there comes a Kathy Day. In the heavenly constellations of our lives, there are winking, delicate, stars of wonderful, individual friendships and personalities of people that make life great to live.
Kathy was a champion of life and liberty, supporting civil rights, women's rights, gay rights and freedom. Some may remember her as feisty, a formidable opponent on a variety of hot-button social and political issues, a pit bull without lipstick. She was the kind of person the world always has room for and so desperately needs, the kind of person who wanted all to be equal and live in harmony.
A couple of years ago, a kitten crawled under the body of a truck at the flea market and, as kittens are known to do, was afraid to come down from the undercarriage of the vehicle. There were four of us under the truck -- three men and Cathy. Having the smaller arm, she was able to reach up and over the rear axle and grab the furry, scared animal. That's just the kind of person she was, willing to help, decorum aside.
Someday, we will all disappear from this earth. Some will be gone, gone forever and some will continue to live through the lives of friends and family.
Her passing has once again made me take a closer look at the people who have come into my life and to value them. My friend, Judge Lloyd "Hot Dog" Simpkins, told me that love and laughter are the most important virtues of life. He is, of course, right. I try to surround myself with people who simply love humor and who love to laugh.
Kathy Day was someone who always made me smile and laugh. And she was right, too, that every time I look at the wooden "cannon ball," I would have a great time remembering the fun experience she and I had that went with buying it.
When Michael told my of his loss, our loss, he ended our conversation with, "Think nice things about her."
Not to worry, Michael.
Within her soul were the elements of blue skies, soft snow, thunderstorms, warm rain, butterflies, whispering wind and love.
I will think nice things about her.
I will always think of her kindness, wit, humor, courage and compassion.