Susan Marie,
 Daughter of My Spirit

Susan Marie Kairalla outdoors

Susan Marie Klock Kairailla
1950 - 2016

  Susan Klock
        Kairalla playing her guitar

It took 3 days but I finally found the poem I was looking for. It's about a real night in 1973. Susan and I were late for a Creative Writing class at the University of Florida. Our very serious professor did not tolerate tardiness and always closed the classroom door when his class was about to start. If someone came in late, he made a point of looking up at the clock and announcing precisely how many minutes ago the class had started. In his defense, he warned us during the first class that if we were late three times we would have to drop the class because it would be obvious to him that we were not serious about the subject matter he was offering.

His passion was opening our minds to the joys of writing poetry by teaching us to write within the boundaries of traditional styles. Some people love that but I am not one of them and neither was my sweet Susan. I still enjoy writing poetry, but the thought of staying within someone else's structure of anything suffocates me like staying between the lines in a coloring book.  Susan and I played along to pass the class but neither of us wanted to be structured in any way. We were just girls who wanted to have fun. We both had wonderful mothers with good intentions who had plans for our future that did not resemble anything either of us was even remotely interested in. We were free thinkers and no one was ever going to *should* on us again. I suppose we were going through a rebellious stage and trying to figure out who we were.  When we got back to our apartment after those structured classes, we unwound by writing silly poems that were more fun, like the one below.  The professor's eyes never saw them. Surprisingly, we both got an A in that class!   

When Susan and I were driving to class
on a sultry summer night
the munchies began
but we had a plan
so we turned before the light

The Krystal sign smiled
so inside we filed
and ordered hot chicken to go
we gobbled it up
a bad way to sup
then went on to meet our foe

The class had begun
while we had our fun
and the closed door sealed our fate
the professor was mad
he made us feel bad
we were giggly, greasy, and late

Susan showed up at my temporary summer apartment when I was advertising for my first roommate after my divorce. A close friend (who happened to be the Monsignor at her church) drove Susan from south Florida to Gainesville with her motorcycle and favorite worldly goods in his truck. He waited there while she came upstairs to respond to my ad. I never met or saw him or the truck, but it felt okay, so I said yes to her plea to share my upcoming apartment.

I realized I couldn't afford a new three-bedroom apartment in Maracaibo Manor until I could manifest two compatible roommates willing to pay their share of the rent. Susan was young enough to be my daughter but it didn't seem to bother either of us. A few days later a handsome young man showed up. He was a very serious UF student working towards a Bachelor of Science in
Building Construction degree, and was willing to be our third roommate. Susan was positive her mother would not approve of her living in an apartment with an unknown male student, or any male, known or unknown. Fortunately, his name was Gayle. When Susan's mother called and wanted to know the names of her two roommates, Susan truthfully said, "Priscilla and Gayle."  Gayle rarely came out of his room to interact with us and he was prompt with his rent so it all worked out. 

Gayle went out of town often to see his family and friends. Susan took those opportunities to slip into his room and grab a handful of candy from the always-full glass candy jar on his desk. Gayle finally noticed the candy jar he filled to the brim before he left, was not full when he came home. One day he decided to catch Susan in the act. As soon as he left, Susan hurried into his room, took some candy out of the jar, and came out giggling. Alas, Susan did not notice that Gayle had intentionally tucked a small piece of paper just below the top hinge of the door that would fall to the floor if anyone dared to enter his room. I know Susan wasn't deliberately stealing candy. I think the fun of the game was just trying to see if she could get away with it. Quiet Gayle came home, picked up the unnoticed paper on the floor, and walked over to Susan. Calmly, he said, "I would have shared my candy with you if you had asked." He turned and walked away and the subject was never brought up again.

I don't know why that story sticks in my mind. There are so many better ones, like the day Susan decided I should learn how to drive a motorcycle. She finally gave up after many tries. I was relieved.

One day Susan decided it would be fun if we went to work together since we both worked at Shands Teaching Hospital (now renamed  UF Health Shands). Her idea of fun was me sitting behind her on her motorcycle and holding on for dear life while she drove on Archer Road at 8 AM
in heavy traffic. Once we arrived at our destination, my job as Office Manager of Shands Blood Bank kept me busy all day. Our blood needs for the day's surgeries often surpassed the number of blood donors that showed up to replace what we needed.  That was when the most important part of my job kicked in, to find a non-profit blood bank willing to ship their surplus blood of the type we needed ASAP. There was no local blood bank to draw from then. Often there were stressful times when no blood bank I called could turn loose of the blood type we wanted. That's when I had to resort to buying blood from an independent source. It was not preferred but it was still okay to do that in 1972.

Susan decided to volunteer as a Candy Striper. She managed to find some reason to visit me every day in her cute Candy Striper outfit. It didn't take long before she told me she had a serious crush on a very handsome medical student she wanted to meet. She didn't know his name and wanted me to find out in my spare time and she would take it from there. So I did, and she did, and somehow I knew dear Andy Kairalla didn't stand a chance!

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