Stories of Kitty Davy: Part One
LIFE WITH KITTY
by Sheila Krynski
Posted with Sheila’s kind permission.
First published in The Journal for Psychological and Spiritual Integration, vol. 7, no. 1 (Winter 1993-94), pp. 31-37.
After moving to Myrtle Beach in the late ’60s and then co-founding Sheriar Press, Sheila Krynski always had a close relationship with Kitty Davy. When Kitty went to Baba in 1991, Sheila was moved to write a series of pithy, often humorous, and pointed reminiscences of Kitty. Most of them also reveal insights into herself and life that have come to Sheila through knowing Kitty. We print some of these “Kitty pieces” here.
Half and Half
[Note: “Half and half” was an important item in the Dilruba household. The entire staff was dedicated to always keeping some on hand for Kitty’s tea and coffee. It was not unusual to receive a panic call at seven in the morning, “We’re out of half and half! Can you get some here quick?”]
It’s half milk and half cream. When I told Kitty at lunch that I had heard it was an ancient truth that “Half and Half” can cure anything, she laughed in utter amusement. Her eyes aglow and her face flushed with high spirits, she made me feel it was an incredible joke worth living for.
Many of Kitty’s friends walked by her table in the restaurant. Between greeting familiar faces, she watched the people going by with interest. In fact, she mused whether the young girl with the crying baby was really a servant stopping by the bakery for a treat for herself. It was unlikely, but surely added dimension to the girl’s ordinary appearance.
When she depicted Charlie Mills across the room to Beebe at our table as “that man over there in the glasses who paints beautiful pictures,” the room became transformed into a gathering place for special people.
Later, when collecting my things in her room at the end of the shift, I asked for a kiss before leaving. She kissed me good-bye, then turned to Ellen, saying, “Give me a kiss, ” redirecting her attention toward the present activity with characteristic enthusiasm that enhanced the moment with a hint of the divine.
Half and Half is half milk and half cream. But it is all magic — the ingredient that adds glitter to coffee, elevating it into a celebration.
Over the years, Kitty seemed to take an interest in my clothes. Her frequent comments about how clean my blouse looked or how smart my outfit was always took me by surprise. Whenever there was a special occasion Kitty usually suggested I wear my blue dress. Actually, this reflected her concern as to how inattentive I was about my own appearance, and I was astonished that it should be important to her.
So last week when Bernice Ivory visited the Center, I was not totally surprised when this subject came up again.
Bernice, a wonderful, long-time follower of Baba from New York, had been suffering with crippling arthritis the last few years. She hadn’t visited for a while, but was able to come for Kitty’s 100th birthday celebration.
As Bernice and her husband, Harry, drove up to Dilruba, Kitty had just come out on the front porch, refreshed from a nap, having put on a new dressing gown and even a little powder and rouge. All seemed in order for the visit.
“Here comes a great disciple of Meher Baba,” whispered Kitty as Bernice slowly climbed the ramp toward the porch. The air filled with the expectation of a special meeting.
As Bernice bent down to greet her, Kitty motioned toward me, saying, “Don’t you like her skirt?”
This evening music is playing. It’s dusk. The warm yellow light is bathing the wet trees outside. All day long we were absorbed by her regal beauty as she rested in her wheelchair: her long white nightgown flowing down the curve of the chair, her newly brushed hair surrounding her pale, relaxed face. Her arms rested on the white lamb’s wool cushions; her legs were covered with a knitted white blanket.
One night last week, she said to me, “Am I doing this badly?”
“No, Kitty,” I said, “you are an inspiration. I really look up to you. ”
“Can you find someone else?” she asked, and then repeated it again.
But how to find the strength to live without such a friend? Who will be amused by my funny stories? Who will see He’s in my heart? Who will believe I can sing His song? Who will expect me to?
Without such a friend there will be the work only. Joyless. Beautiful. And long.
Kitty’s relationship to modern technology was special.
Like the time I got a new station wagon. After dinner one night, I left the table at the restaurant a little early to pull the car around in order to pick her up at the front door. Out of habit I pushed the tape into the player and the Wagner opera continued from where it had left off. As Kitty got into the front seat, she was delighted with the music. (I always made it a point to have music available around her because she enjoyed it so much, even when it was low.)
“Isn’t it wonderful,” she said with delight, “Baba knows you so well, He got you a car that plays your favorite music!”
And it did make me feel kind of good.
Then there was the telephone. Kitty seemed to have found ways to use the telephone that nobody could ever have dreamed of. Many, many stories exist of perfectly timed phone calls from Kitty that just meant the world to the person on the other end.
A long time ago, one of those incidents happened to me. I was living in North Myrtle Beach with Ann Conlon, my closest friend, and had just returned to our apartment from the airport where I saw Ann and Neecie (another friend) off on a plane to California. Ann was accompanying Neecie, who was moving to San Francisco and was afraid to fly by herself. By the time I returned home I was in the doldrums, sinking fast. My two friends were gone and I felt inordinately sad. The sound of the ringing telephone pierced what felt like an incredibly long and dark tunnel that had overtaken me. Kitty, on the other end, said, “Baba wants you in Myrtle Beach. Isn’t that right! Yes, that’s what He said!” and then hung up.
Needless to say, my mood was broken.
It turns out that Kitty had been telling a couple in her office who were thinking of moving to Myrtle Beach about how I moved here. She never did get the story straight, and had thought that Baba told me to move here. So she was calling up to confirm the story.
I believe there must have been some people of vision around who saw the potential of the portable phone to make Kitty actually dangerous. It provided her with a formidable opportunity for telephone escapades that seemed to expand exponentially as she got the hang of it. I often
thought it was possible that Baba invented the portable phone in order for her to get His work done. After all, time was running out.
When Kitty first got a portable phone she diligently practiced using it, hoping to become proficient. During one of these practice sessions, she stood across the room from me, dialed a number and pushed a button on the phone marked “private.” After talking for a while with the person on the other end, she hung up, delighted with the technological feat she had just mastered. Her eyes sparkling with achievement she announced, “There, you couldn’t hear a word I said!”
Kitty faced technical hurdles with an earnestness that was humbling. Because many of her friends had answering machines, she met the challenge head on with characteristic determination, and often experimented with the recorded voices on the other end. Like the times she would call Ellen, her nurse, wanting to discuss some medical concern. When Ellen’s answering machine came on at the other end, Kitty would try to leave her message, but then seemed to feel funny about just hanging up. When Ellen got home from the hospital in the evening, she would listen to these conversations between Kitty and her telephone: “I’m hanging up now. Yes, yes, I am going to hang up now….” and on and on, clearly not wanting to hurt the telephone’s feelings!
In fact, one of the things I miss most about Kitty now that she’s gone is knowing when I return home from work each day there will be no message from her on my answering machine to come over, or to do this or that.
What is so different now? It’s not only the fact that there is no message from her to look forward to. But my capacity to think “big” is diminished. What is this? Thinking “big?” I’ve become small. Very small.
In the mornings I remember what it was like to wake up in her house — thinking about what needed to be done, how I’d better have the bed made before leaving for her room at seven, so when it was time to go, I could leave quietly.
What was different? She has slipped away, leaving me small again, to wake up in the mornings only with myself.
Friendship with Kitty provided a brief skirmish with freedom. Her mind was inventive and fearless, her heart courageous. And most of all, she wasn’t bound by the sort of ego I am personally so familiar with. The little “stories” that happened around her created compelling whirlwinds of activity saturated with the freedom that comes from loving Him.
Now that she’s free, my own boundaries have come home to roost.
Kitty’s friendship was an enabling force. With it, suddenly, many found themselves in the midst of His drama; an unbelievable expansion of horizons that had become calcified from habitual restraint.
Late one evening last May, Kitty called me to come over. For the first time in months, she was feeling a little like her old self after being sick a long time. We reminisced about India in her living room. She sat tall in her wheelchair, laughing with contagious gusto, bathed in delight.
After recalling one funny incident after another that had happened on trips to India, I wondered out loud, “Kitty, have you thought about maybe going back again?”
Cloaked in the festive mantle of a great mystery, she looked first to the left, then slowly to the right — preparing the moment, it seemed, for the release of an astonishing idea.
“You know,” she whispered, “I’d been thinking about it all day. But now that you mention it, and the idea is coming from someone else besides myself, it must be from Baba.”
So, with His Blessings, we surreptitiously planned the trip. Jean said she’d like to go too. It was agreed: The three of us would go, in November.
More and more the “old Kitty” became present as we went over the details of the journey. After considering many alternatives, some quite exotic and venturesome, we settled on Lufthansa with a stopover in Frankfurt as the best bet.
After a while the dancing dreams that filled the room with stardust pulled in, forming a concentrated stillness. With hushed deliberation she said, “We must tell no one!”
It was January when Kitty returned to India, a little more than a month after she died.
Part Two continues here.