I first met Bonnie when I was a teenager. She was dating Bob, who was a good family friend since I was a baby. Bob and Bonnie met on the Tina Turner tour in the early 80s. She was Tina’s PR person and he was a Roadie. They fell in love and when he proposed, Tina sang “Let’s Stay Together” for them on tour.
Bonnie was from NYC, had curly, red hair, was a high-powered business woman and was Jewish. I was intruiged and enamored by all of those things. I wanted to be just like her.
After college when I was moving to NYC to be a Performer, she gave me a huge, black leather bag as a gift. She told me that all the Dancers and Actresses she had ever known have to carry around “tons of shit” for their classes and auditions and I would need this. She was right. She was that kind of person and also had no problem with cussing often.
I remember getting the news that she was in the hospital with Leukemia. She was young and it was sudden and shocking. I called her regularly over that next year as she was in and out of treatment, most of which she never remembered. Miraculously, her sister was a match for her as a blood marrow donor and that spared Bonnie’s life for many years. Unfortunately, with that came something called graft-versus-host disease.
Nonetheless, Bonnie beat Leukemia for 5 years and her remission was considered a miracle. For many years she lived a normal life, worked (eventually remarried) and although she and Bob divorced, we stayed close. I had a personal crisis in 2001 when I was pregnant with my daughter, toddler in tow. My marriage fell apart and I couldn’t work because of a pregnancy complication. I suddenly had no income, no place to live and was on my own. In desperation, I considered moving into a trailer park in Eureka. I ran this idea by her and she said, “No. Jews don’t live in trailer parks.” Unbeknownst to me, she banded together with Bob and another family member to basically pay my rent for a year while I got on my feet. She was an angel to me and I will never forget that generosity.
After I spent 4 years becoming a Colorist, Bonnie became my client. She was picky-picky-picky and made me better at what I do. She expected the best, nothing less. She was loving and devoted and came to see me on and off until she no longer could leave her house.
This was her last visit to the salon in April.
We spoke a few weeks before she breathed her last breath and she told me that what might end up killing her was dehydration. She just couldn’t get enough water in her. I asked her point blank if she thought she was going to die and she said she might. I knew that she had surrendered the fight at that point. I could hear it in her voice.
I have never met a more feisty and determined person than Bonnie. She inspired me and always will. I was amazed, honestly, that she lived as long as she did. The amount of hospitalizations, blood-work, surgeries, transfusions, tubes in her chest, weird skin reactions, reactions to dental work-all of which she overcame and any one of which would take down most people. To the end, she refused to complain and wanted only to hear about my life and push me to be the best I could be.
RIP Bonnie Feingold