I remember my first visit to the Lucille Ball Memorabilia store at Universal Studios as a kid. I was SO excited to be surrounded by all things Lucy. Upon taking a closer look at the merchandise is when I realized she had been dead... for many years. And then I cried.
I know she's an icon who impacted many. However, I don't know of anyone who gravitated towards her the way I did as a kid. I Love Lucy gave me warm fuzzies. I felt the Ricardo's home was my home. I saw a comedic version of my own parents in Lucy and Ricky- my parents in an alternate universe or as they used to say, in TV Land. When I figured out the show's schedule, I made sure be tuned in whenever it aired- never missed an episode.
Then I discovered that Lucille Ball had gone on to create other shows such as the Lucy Show and the Lucy-Desi comedy hour so I made it a point to watch those too. I admired her tenacity and talent. It was apparent to me that she was more than just a star but a messenger to her audience as well. I dreamt of meeting her. And then of course, I visited her memorabilia shop.
It hit me hard that I would never get to meet Lucille or see her churn out anything new for the rest of my lifetime. I watched the documentary about her life. It highlighted her career beginnings, her meeting Ricky in Cuba during political unrest that almost got him killed, their persistence in creating a show featuring them (a bi-racial couple, apparently unwatchable to some), and being savvy enough to create a studio so that they could execute their vision their way.
Then there were the less glamorous trials: Ricky's affairs, the divorce, their battles with cancer, their continued love for each other. Lucille Ball was absolutely my favorite icon and maybe it's for the best then, that I'll never meet her. But if I could, I would thank her and Desi for somehow helping me better understand my parent's relationship. And of course, I would thank her for providing me with a reliable dose of laughter each night I tuned in to watch her perform.