May 10 – “Viviann Day” – Viviann is one of my favorite people of all time. She was my family’s neighbor when I was born. She would become one of my best friends and so very important in my life. I celebrate her birthday each year as the holiday it should be – She would’ve been 101 years old today. Happy Birthday, Viviann! And, Happy Viviann Day everyone!
The traditional Viviann Day celebration is to give something wonderful to someone else and enjoy a feast of champagne and Taco Bell with a scoop of ice cream in your coffee with your cake for dessert. I wish that I could celebrate with her in her beloved Huntington Beach, California, on her lovely patio filled with the smell of the ocean, beautiful plants, wind chimes, and the latest curiosities that she’d found and was ready to tell me all about.
A very brief description of this wonderful person: She was insatiably curious. She loved learning, vintage toys, sailboats, the ocean, the Anaheim Angels, and Ford Mustangs.
She could recite from memory a great deal of the Longfellow poem Evangeline A Tale of Acadie (which is no small feat). She introduced me to Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn which she reread every year as a reminder of growing up very poor and being a child at the onset of the Great Depression. “If I only knew that, one day, hundred dollar bills and chocolates would be plentiful, it would’ve been easier to live through.” she told me one day as we were polishing off a box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Having lived through the depression, Viviann was very frugal and loved bargains, but she was also incredibly generous, compassionate, and delightfully impish. I loved going with her to discount stores and watching her tuck sneaky money into the unattended purses of young mothers. “Won’t it be wonderful when they realize they suddenly have more money than they thought they had?” she’d ask with a grin and eyebrows raised.
Today, I will spray her dime store perfume, Tabu, in my studio (I always keep a bottle on hand) as I work on a new painting of Viviann and hope so much that I can do her justice.
I hope that someday, I get to be someone’s Viviann… A lofty goal, to be sure.
Happy Viviann Day!