Lesley Joy Marcus is the best healing masseuse in Bexar County, Texas. Her daughter, Gabrielle, is one of my best friends on the planet. Joy is the perfect name for Lesley. She has a stash of dirty jokes that the Friar’s Club would kill for, and a hearty, church bell laugh that chimes the hour every minute you’re with her. She loves the sound of French words and uses them when she can to great dramatic effect, and last night Gabi and I talked about the fact that she’s such a healer of everyone else that if there’s any lesson in her illness at all, it’s that she might start to focus on herself more.
Because she uses her powers to rub, knead, energize, visualize and, if all else fails, tell a barrage of dirty jokes so fabulous that the problems of prominent and not-so San Antonians are knocked out through a diaphragm shaking with laughter. But who heals the healer? We just found out that she has the big C. I won’t even say it, just the c. And what terrifies us most is that if Joy can get it, a woman who is more alive than any ten people you’ll see in a room, a woman who sizzles with life force and has devoted her life to bringing out yours and mine, if Joy can get sick, what’s to save the rest of us??
Her house tells it all, at least her old house that I remember. She moved not too long ago. But the old house on Bryn Mawr (why San Antonio has a district of Ivy League and Seven Sisters streets I can’t tell you) was just so Lesley. You walk in and on your right is a table full of stained glass. Here Lesley works on her latest creations. But you might not see that first because you will be too busy staring at the four-legged brigade who are barking at you. You’ve never seen dogs like them. These rare Egyptian hounds look like Cleopatran gray hounds, high and mighty and slightly orange. Lesley’s made you a cup of European tea and you sit down and tell her what ails you.
Then you’ll lay down on her massage table and you won’t get a gentle petting. If you’re like me, you’ll no doubt be in significant distress the whole time while she tries to get your body healthy again. You’re dough; you’re grapes at crush. My toes always tattle on me, and Lesley will admonish that my kidneys and bladder are complaining that I never drink enough water. And apparently when I walk I come down too hard on my heels.
We’re all fine and very close now, but in high school, all the adults in my family lost their minds. They were having grown up divorce problems amongst themselves, that sort of thing, and for a period of a few years, they were even more immature than I was. So I started acting out, getting in trouble in school. I got in with the bad crowd and started experimenting with smokeables and hair colors. My saving grace was that my best friends’ mothers were there to pick up the pieces. They were all Mrs. at the time: Mrs. Marcus, Mrs. Forland, Mrs. Riley. I call Lesley Lesley now, and that makes me feel very grown up, but at the time when I needed her most, she was Mrs. Marcus.
She’ll be fine. She has enough mojo and chutzpa and fire to beat this thing. But it’s still a shock. Isn’t it always a shock? So if you have any room in your prayers and meditations, it would be great if you could add Mrs. Marcus to the list. The healer needs healing. Thank you for listening.
Here’s Lesley Joy Marcus with her gorgeous granddaughter at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens:
3 thoughts on “Ode to an Ailing Friend”
A perfect, beautiful, moving portrait.
I could not have said it better myself. I will be praying to all of the gods, goddesses and angels for all of our health and sanity during this difficult time. Thank you for a beautiful ode to lesley!
Stephanie, this is the biggest gift of love, catharsis and healing. A magical gift. I love you Steph. Gabi