I met Lee Stolmack one very, VERY hot summer day maybe 16 or 17 years ago when I flew from Los Angeles to Sacramento to interview for a training position with the Child Welfare Services/Case Management System (CWS/CMS), a job I had heard about from a friend who worked there. This was a joint State of California and IBM project that automated the world of child protective services in California. I have no idea how I managed to even get this interview (help from the friend, no doubt), but Lee was a boss or The Boss on the State side of this operation. (My memory is hmm... horrible, but I also have the chemo brain excuse at the moment.)
Lee was friendly in the interview, which always makes for a more pleasant experience. Once I went to work for this fabby project, I first remember Liz in a lovely blue business suit. I remember thinking she was the prettiest girl in the room, and I remember learning that really her name was Liz Lasagna. Easy to remember.
I was on contract with the state, and Liz was on contract with IBM; so we ran in different work circles to some extent. But when we changed offices we sat not that far from each other. I do not recall how our friendship developed, especially because she always had a boyfriend and I did not, so she was way busier than me!
We had some big laughs when we traveled together to Ventura County for work and saw William Schallert, the actor/dad from The Patty Duke Show, in the Sacramento airport. We both knew the theme song, and Liz being the bolder of the two of us told him that she admired his work and that we could sing the theme song for him! He begged us not to!
While working in Ventura I remember learning that Liz is one of the all-time great extemporaneous speakers in the world. She gave a speech that was completely unplanned, was funny and articulate, and she does not seem to possess the words ugh, or um in her vocabulary. Amazing. I knew she was smart but what a talent the girl has for speaking well—and clearly, for writing. Did we do some other traveling together, Liz? I just remember always having fun with you!
|Suzers: BB (Before Bald)|
Interesting that we all met on an IT project because I feel sure without computers we would not have been writing letters back and forth all these years. I’m in Germany, Lee is in Sacramento, and Liz is in Madison. Thank you, Al Gore.
I had surgery in January to remove two tumors, and at my subsequent “tumor conference”, the doctor recommended chemo and radiation. For some reason hair loss came up immediately in the discussion—my question and his answer that yes, I would lose my hair. I have not yet seen Mondays at Racine except for the trailer, but I concur with the trailer that it’s an odd thing to be grieving the loss of your hair when your life is at stake. I had to grieve it, and for a few weeks I did it in a very large way. Cried a lot. A whole lot.
During this time both Liz and Lee said they were taking off their hair in solidarity. My instant reaction was NO NO NO don’t do it. It was actually a hard thing for me to begin to grasp while grappling with my awful new reality that mine was going to fall out no matter what. I would not have volunteered for total hair loss in a million years. I would take off my hair to save someone’s live and that’s about all I would have to offer in the department of shaving off my hair. I would be the casserole maker for a friend with cancer.
It seemed like WAY too much to ask. Our identities are way involved in our hair and appearance, and I know I had their unconditional support without them buzzing off their hair. Both are crazy and stubborn and loyal friends and well, you’ve seen the results. Even though I did not want to see them do this, what an incredibly moving expression of friendship this was. I sobbed and I mean SOBBED through Liz’s video.
Just FYI in case someone out there ever needs to know, for me the period of sobbing and boo-hooing and feeling sorry for myself over the impending hair loss worked like a charm. When the day came to take it off I proudly shed not one tear. It just had to be done as part of the journey back to health. The end.
Thanks, you two. I love you both.
And don't you know, we love you back!