Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sanibel resident reminisces on Tuesdays with Millie

Vicki Marcus is one of those people who always seems to be purposeful and busy. There is always a meeting, function or family event.

But, on Tuesday mornings, everything in Marcus' life screeched to a halt. Tuesday mornings belonged to Millie Smith Gold.

Now those days - filled with laughter, chatter, recipe-sharing and stories - are tucked away in Marcus' head and heart. Gold died on Nov. 1.

Gold was married first to Marty Smith, who died, and then to Charlie Gold whom she had dated in high school and who has also passed on. She is survived by two children. A daughter, Ruth, died from breast cancer and her son, Steve, was shot down in Vietnam.

On Tuesdays, Gold, 93, and Marcus chatted for hours about everything from the old days in New York, to politics, family, recipes and, yes, the occasional gossip.

Marcus dubbed their time together "Tuesdays with Millie," a local version of author Mitch Albom's "Tuesdays with Morrie." Albom's book chronicled his time spent with his former college professor Morrie Schwartz when Schwartz was dying of Lou Gehrig's Disease.

The sessions became a classroom of learning about life.

In very much the same way, Marcus's time with Gold taught her. "It was like being with my grandmother," Marcus said. "She called me 'bubby' all the time. We could look at each other and and start to laugh and not say anything."

Marcus started visiting Gold because she lived alone and needed companionship after breaking her hip and being hospitalized. But this was no pity party. Through their time together Marcus and Gold would discover things about each other. Marcus learned to appreciate Gold's patience and Gold found a caring, fun-loving friend.

They had a sort of routine that revolved around food, conversation and always laughter. Each time she came Marcus would bring a dish she prepared at home Soups were a favorite.

"I walked in and she said "Hi-ya, doll, how are you?"

Over time, Gold got to know Marcus's family, too, who would also spent time with the feisty, yet tender Gold. A core group of friends rounded out the circle in Gold's life."We became like a surrogate family," Marcus said.

Gold's sense of humor and stories kept Marcus coming back for more.

"She owned a bar in New York," Marcus said. "She was a pistol! There wasn't anything she didn't do. I am sure she took a lot of stories with her."

And nothing would get in the way of their Tuesdays. The day belonged to Marcus and Gold.

Often Marcus would collect key limes from Gold's yard and the following week, the pair would be noshing on key lime pie as they chattered away the afternoon.

In the end when her health from blood cancer, heart disease and other ailments got the better of Gold, she decided her life's next course. She had been moved to a care unit at Hope Hospice. Gold sort of faded away on her own.

"She was in control," Marcus said. "She wouldn't go in a nursing home and she knew she couldn't live at home."

And Marcus smiles and sort of chuckles when she recalls her relationship with Gold. "We had a good run," Marcus said.

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