If it had been Odessa instead of Eve in the Garden of Eden I believe she would have passed on the apple and decided to kiss the snake instead.

The results of my recent blood work have me wishing I had Odessa’s complete emotional detachment from food. I am an emotional eater. When I’m happy I eat. When I’m sad I eat. When I’m bored I eat.

Food has always been my comfort and solstice. When the doctor was going over the results of my daddy’s first unsuccessful surgery to stop his cancer, all I could think about was how much I wanted some ice cream. A heaping bowl of Chocolate Mouse Royale… Mint Chocolate Chip… Cookies-n-Cream… Anything to numb the pain.

Odessa enjoyed the decadence of Roger feeding her a strawberry dipped in melted in chocolate, but she didn’t go out of her way to seek sweets, or any other food for that matter. If someone bought her chocolate she ate it and appreciated its flavor. For her it stopped there. Food never had any control over her.

Graham would have to get Carmella to go grocery shopping for Odessa just to make sure there was food in the house for their daughter, Amalie. Dess was perfectly content to wander out into the back garden to graze on home grown strawberries, grapes, or an occasional plum. She never, in her words, consumed any food product that once had a soul.

If Carmella cooked vegetables, baked bread, or made pasta with tomato sauce, Odessa would sometimes be coaxed into taking a couple of bites. Very rarely, usually at the insistence of Graham, would she sit down at the table and eat an actual meal.

The last five years or so of both their lives, Odessa and Graham were both guilty of alcohol induced liquid lunches. She got to the point were she wouldn’t eat at all if he didn’t peel her an apple. slice up a pineapple or coax her into having a taste of chocolate. It wasn’t that she had any issues with her weight or food obsessions, it was more that she just forgot to eat. Food held absolutely no interest to her.

I was thinking how incredibly liberating that must have been, not to base your life around craving your next meal. I was jealous of her willowy five-ten eternally slender body. At least until she gave me a glimpse of her last year or so among the living.

Odessa’s health started to deteriorate when Carmella became ill with breast cancer in 1984. Being an empath, Odessa picked up on her best friend’s suffering to the point where that was a huge factor in Carmella decision to move back to her family home in NC to live out her last days. Carmella had always been Odessa life line to sanity and normalcy. If Carmella had still been with her in that December of 1985, I doubt Odessa would have let Roger get inside her head enough to have given Graham that horrible ultimatum that eventually cost both their lives.

A part of Odessa died right along with Graham that January morning. He was her everything. Without him she didn’t want air to breath, much less food to eat.

After Graham’s death, his wife immediately sent word through Roger that she wanted Odessa out of that house. The one thing Graham hadn’t considered was the implications of the house being deeded in only his name. For a man who supposedly killed himself, he left no provisions for Odessa or their daughter in his will. Knowing his devotion to Odessa and his acute business sense, this is proof positive that there is no way his death happened by his own hands.

Odessa didn’t want to stay in the house anyway. She couldn’t have handled the memories and went back to home she owned in Raleigh. The home Roger bought her back in the early 1960s and where her sister had lived since she moved to Florida in 1963. Within a month of being back in Raleigh, Olivia was arrested in a major drug bust. Olivia being imprisoned left Amalie on her own in handling a teenage pregnancy. Odessa was too brokenhearted to even notice there was anything wrong with her daughter. For once in her life, Odessa was totally on her own with no one there to look out for her when she needed looking after the most.

Roger made one trip up from Florida to see her in June of that summer. He saw the toll Graham’s death had taken on her.  She was dangerously frail, already hovering at around 100 lbs. A dangerously thin weight for a woman of her height. This was his only visit where she didn’t have the interest or the desire to even want to have sex with him. Instead of getting her the help she desperately needed he went home to his family and never saw or spoke with her again.

Odessa had basically stopped eating weeks before Amalie died in childbirth. It wasn’t really alcohol poisoning from that bottle of absinthe that killed her. A heartbroken Odessa died from starvation.


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