By CJ Gronner
Please let me take this opportunity to spill my heart all over the place and humbly THANK my two homes, Venice and Minnesota.
If you’ve ever met me you know that my Mom is a big deal to me. I’ve never met a better lady, ever. She had a heart attack in Minnesota while I was on the phone with her in Venice. I was beside myself. Minnesota friends went to her even before I could. Venice friends got me there overnight.
Minnesota friends picked me up at the airport, took me straight to the hospital, and gave me strength to handle seeing my Mom all hooked up to a million things. The way her face lit up when I walked in abso- lutely proves the power of love to heal. Venice/LA friends called and texted and let me know that we had thoughts and prayers going in my absence. People everywhere that I didn’t even know attended Church told me about adding my Mom to their prayer chains. Facebook blew up with beautiful messages and offers of ANYTHING to help, from every place I know people internationally, especially Venice, especially Minnesota, particularly from the unusually close and timeless friends that were/are Richfield Spartans.
Minnesota friends brought me lunch, stole me away for a stiff drink, made a party for me when I got home late one night so I could see friends, and held me while I cried on their shoulders, both from fear and joy.
When I’d leave the ICU to check messages, every time there was new love and light shining on us from sunny Venice. This was extra needed when there were not one, but TWO April blizzards while I was back, which I was totally unprepared for, packing wise. I was the only person in Minnesota thrilled about it, since I’d missed Christmas back there this year, and tried to keep it to myself as they are OVER it.
As I became used to the awful lighting (and food) of the hospital, I started to feel sick and in pain my- self. Stress piled up on my neck and shoulders, and I started to feel hypochondriac-ish. That’s when my dear friends, Christine, Jane and Kate stepped in and took me out of the hospital to hear some music and get some fresh air for an hour at the MacPhail Center for Music, where Jane is the lead singer in her 10 year old rock band. Perhaps to Jane’s embarrassment, her “Fairy Godmother” also needed to rock, and blow off some steam, even if for just a sorely needed hour out of the Heart Center. The 10 year olds gave me the uplift and spirit to go back to the hospital, stronger and more hopeful – both for my Mom, and the future, with kids as great as these coming up.
I would read Mom messages from my family of friends in both homes, and see her eyes regain that familiar twinkle every time. Just knowing that you have so much love lifts you up to feel like you can handle anything. And we did.
Mom had scary surgery on her beautiful heart. It went well, and the only reason they didn’t have to admit me to the Psych Ward during that was because all of my people from all over had my back so lov- ingly well. Every day Mom is getting a little better, though it’s a whole new life now, and a lot of change is underway for her. I could only leave (real life still rolls on) because I saw first (and grateful) hand how very sweetly she is being taken care of, both by the lovely nurses and our friends.
I left Minnesota last night amid another blizzard. I was a sobbing wreck, and even the airport security guy was tender to me about it. That’s Minnesota.
I awoke (after a long and crazy-delayed journey) back in Venice, to sunshine and profound feelings of gratitude. I came back to the news that my good
friend, Bobby Brown (The World’s Greatest Wino) had died from his battle with throat cancer. Another Venice icon is gone. More than ever, I feel the truism that life is short, and you honestly have to do your best to have the best time you can, while you can. Venice friends – that I didn’t even know KNEW about my Mom’s ordeal – have stopped me every day, asking about her, and tell- ing me to call if I need anything at all. People care. I went to the beach to inhale the fresh sea air, and close my eyes to give thanks … for this life I’ve been given, for the abundant love I’ve been shown, and for the peo- ple and places I call home. Gratitude is glory!
As truly hard as that week was – it was also deeply beautiful. The humanity – that we were surrounded in like a huge embrace – was a lesson in how to be a friend. In how to live your life gratefully and positively. If you’ve ever thought I was sappy and gushing about that kind of stuff before … well, now it’s really on. For all time.
Thank you, dear friends and family of mine, wher- ever you live. From the bottom of the Gronners’ com- pletely full (and on the mend!) hearts.