Celebrating a Milestone Birthday
Birthdays can be tough during the pandemic, especially one heralding a big milestone, but Sherene Gittens managed to have a very happy 50th birthday. Yesterday, she celebrated with her closest family members over dinner. Today I baked and brought over a red velvet cake with white cream-cheese frosting which Sherene’s sister Carlotta advised is her favorite.
For her All Dressed story, Sherene wore a symphony of soft beiges. She says her niece teases her that she dresses “too matchy-matchy” but I loved the outfit (I want the plaid jacket!) and particularly the different textures: sheepskin coat, wool jacket, leathery trousers, fabric-and-leather boots.
During the pandemic, Sherene started making pencil drawings at home, often of women’s bodies or of people she admires or cares about. She hadn’t drawn in nearly twenty years, but during Covid she fished out of her closet a box of drawing pencils that had been gifted to her many years earlier and started making art. Why women’s bodies? “I just think they’re beautiful.” She hopes to start a T-shirt line and I plan to be one of her first customers.
Sherene and I have known each other since 2013, when she started taking care of my father when he had Alzheimer’s. Throughout this grim illness, she was always a positive, caring presence.
Thanks to Sherene I have one special memory of my father during the last weeks of his life. I was at his home but had a lot of work to do and planned to get it done at the dining room table. Sherene suggested I work from my father’s bedroom and helped clear a space at his desk. Every few minutes as I sat writing, I would turn around to look at him and his eyes would be trained on me and he would mouth the words, “I love you.” He no longer could remember my name, but even then, at the very end, there was something inside that held.
My father had a nickname for her: “Sherene the Queen.”
What has kept you going during Covid? "My work and my art."