A year ago this week, my dear friend Mina Millett died at the age of 51. Her husband David was kind enough to send me this photo from one of their many trips they took together, this one to San Simeon in southern California.
The cause was cancer. I don't want to focus on her death, but on her life, and the wonderful good fortune I had to know her and be her friend. I knew Mina for 21 years. I have so many memories of her, I could write posts until New Years and still not scratch the surface. Mina was a wonderful person. She was smart and kind, funny and generous, lovely and amazing. I introduced Mina to many of my family and friends, and several of them joined me at her memorial service. I wanted to get up and speak at the service, but I was worried that I wouldn't be able to keep control of my sorrow. Her friend and former roommate Christopher Walkey ran the memorial service, and he did a beautiful job.
So many of my friends and family who knew Mina said the same thing about her. They told me how gracious she was, what a pleasure it was to be around her, how welcome she made folks feel when they visited her home. She had many wonderful qualities, but I remember her sense of humor and quick wit most of all.
Mina was the one who first dubbed Tara and Anne Dresbach, the daughters of my friends Michael and Mona Dresbach, the Dres-babies. Now the Dres-babies have babies, so Miss Evelyn Mobley is technically a Dres-baby-baby.
Mina introduced me to the concept of the most vital unit of currency, the BARTable dollar. This means a dollar bill that will be accepted by a vending machine, most important to her as a commuter who used our local mass transit system BART.
Trivial Pursuit question: What strikes the Statue of Liberty 142 times a year?
Mina's answer: Air Florida.
One of her two masters degrees was in theatre, where she learned many things I never knew, toiling away in the mathematics mines. She taught me these alternate lyrics to "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes", which I have never forgotten.
They asked me how I knew
Raccoon shit was bluuuuuuuuuuuue,
I of course replied,
Raccoon shit is dyed.
It's not blue inside.
Mina was raised in Los Angeles, and though she studied in Boston and Minneapolis before settling down in San Francisco, she kept a Southern Californian idea of what a nice day is. If it wasn't sunny and at least 72 degrees F., Mina found it intolerably cold. "The dogs are sticking to the sidewalks." she would say.
Me: It's not that cold.
Mina: It's freezing!
Me: It's 64 degrees!
Mina: Twice freezing is still freezing.
Many years ago, we were making plans to see a movie and I was flipping through the paper to see what looked good. "I hear there's a new Bette Midler movie." said Mina.
"Yeah, there is. I know you like Bette Midler, but I don't think we want to see this one. It's called Stella."
"Oh, my God." said Mina. "This isn't a remake of Stella Dallas, is it?"
"This is why I value our friendship. There are so many things I don't have to explain to you."
For those who never knew Mina, no explanation of how wonderful she was truly does her justice. For those who did know her, no explanation from me is necessary. All of us who knew her miss her very much, her husband David most of all. I'm very thankful that David and I remain friends, and especially thankful that Mina Millett was my friend for 21 wonderful years.
Never to be Forgotten:James Shigeta 1933-2014
5 hours ago