It was a warm spring afternoon. Those welcomed first warm days after a long Chicago winter. The three of us gathered in the small loft that Ardell used as her office. Housed in Ardell’s Andersonville consignment and resale store, everything about our business partner and her menagerie screamed Hollywood and old Chicago. The introduction of Ardell’s special friend was the purpose for the small gathering.
Since childhood in Chicago, I learned an appreciation for the architectural remnants and people that inhabited that era of opulence and extreme retail. Ardell and the wonderful woman we were about to meet were of that time. We sat chatting until we heard the store door open and a deep female voice called out to Ardell. Then liken to visiting royalty we watched as the guests climbed the stairs to the loft.
A gray bespoke business suit with matching fedora dressed the short female with a brilliant Betty Davis smile. Blue eyes sparkled accompanying a deep sultry voice. You could hardly notice the two creatures flanking her. On one arm a tall elegant younger female and on the other arm a tall ultra thin matching male. My focus was on the diminutive woman introduced as Beatriz Sanz de Santamaria.
Our gaze met throughout that initial meeting. Later, Bibi invited me to her penthouse that next day. I knew in that moment that she would profoundly reshape my life.
Over the next thirty years, she taught me business and politics. When sick, she served me homemade chicken soup in double handled Wedgewood bowls and introduced me to the shakers and movers of Chicago’s north shore.
By the time my career began in economics and finance at Chicago’s Mercantile Exchange, thanks to Bibi (as I loving called her) I understood how to hold my own. Nevertheless, she was always there with sage advice, dinner out, or dinner in her home office she loving called “the dungeon”.
Old age finally took her from me. A day never passes when I do not remember her love. I miss the first female CPA graduate from Northwestern University, diplomatic council daughter and sister to a CEO. She was my mentor, coach, teacher, caregiver, and mind shaper.
Most of all she was my best friend.