Dear friends and readers,
Another day hard to get through. 47 years ago this evening in Leeds City, maybe in an hour or two I met Jim Moody in a Student Union Bar, invited him back to my flat for coffee, and (my little joke) he never left. I saw Charlie, my grief support person, around noon, and as I drew out from my invisible bundle, pilgrim-like, the thoughts and events I needed to tell, I said that I now have to walk alone.
My father is gone too (December 1989). My mother who took the photo (August 2012).
Later I found myself telling myself all the things I’m doing today which show that he was, he existed, his presence is still shaping my life. I am teaching this Trollope course at OLLI at AU; and, since I’m going to a JASNA starting on Wednesday and won’t be back until late Sunday (the way the planes operate it takes a full day on Wednesday and Sunday travel to get to Montreal from here and back as Air Canada doesn’t schedule that many planes), and Tuesday I’m doing a gothic course at OLLI at Mason; I needed to do the plan, lecture notes and so on, today: Nina Balatka, “La Mere Bauche”, “A Ride Across Palestine”, all masterpieces. I read ahead the powerful “Parson’s Daughter at Oxney Colne”, our example of the Barsetshire mode. (I shoverdosed on all six episodes of Barchester Chronicles while that criminal esophagectomy was performed on my beloved for 12 hours.) Would I be teaching Trollope but for Jim? no. It was he who found the Trollope list on majordomo, who subscribed me, who a few years later, accompanied me to London to meet with John Letts, Chairman of the Trollope Society and Martin Shepherd, owner and editor of Hambledon Press, to have this book Letts suggested I write commissioned. It was Jim who negotiated with Letts what I would be paid and the date I would deliver the typescript. Yes, a typescript, an old-fashioned heavy-paper laden bundle sent expensively through the post office from Alexandria (Va) to London.
My liking for Trollope was my own, but my admiral liked Trollope too and we read the Palliser novels alternatively (me one and then he) in the 1970s while we were watching the 26 episode 1974 mini-series by Simon Raven (years of study, of fulfillment, finally a paper published). The admiral understood Trollope, having himself gone to a public school as a despised day boy (in his case in a different colored shirt, to stigmatize him natch). I mentioned in Trollope on the ‘Net that my father brought to Metropolitan Hospital after I’d been in this dreadful accident (my knee cracked and whole leg in a cast) Trollope’s The Vicar of Bullhampton. He said, “very wise, Trollope.” I have that volume in my room with me tonight.
The fantasy doesn’t hold — I know he had indeed left — death has parted us — his real person and mind gone. I am comforted by this house in which his presence is everywhere in so many things. It was I who wrote the letters to the landlady of this house when we were renting it which strangely charmed her into selling it to us, with her holding the mortgage; but he found it — we both liked it immediately — and he dared to say we should go to the realtor, and maybe we could afford the rent. It looked sufficiently run-down. Yesterday (Sunday) Caroline was here and ascertained it is listed with the lowest price on the Internet at Zillow in my whole local area (one other house pays less taxes but we didn’t check what the Zillow site said it would really probably sell for). One of my friends declared it unspoilt. It was he who declared Old Town Alexandria was most English-like and that we would try to rent here as there was a Dash bus-line which would take him to his job at the Pentagon. We considered DC but we didn’t have the money to send Caroline (then 2) to a private school which we were told she must go to …
I have been doing too much and found myself exhausted by Thursday for two weeks; also pulled a muscle or ligament at dance fusion (in my chest, not far from my heart) so I’m going to cut back. The piano lessons are too much for me: either the teacher is not verbal enough or I have no talent though I love to listen to music. It was not a waste: I learned how complex piano playing is. I wanted to see the piano used as he used to play in the mornings songs from shows and art songs, and sometimes folk. But Yvette will have to play when she can to keep the piano alive.
Charlie and I have agreed that we will now go for a 3 week interval between meetings; at first we met weekly, then every other week.
I’ve decided to teach at OLLI at Mason every other “term.” They have short terms over the year, and I mean to figure out a schedule where I don’t have to go to two places or have two preparations in one week. I like OLLI at AU because in case I can’t drive a car, I can get there by public transportation, though I know part of my exhaustion the week before was my using public transportation. It involves walking steep stairs (escalators not working). OLLI at Mason has a bridge club! who knew? I wish I had thought to try for a volunteer teaching job but it never entered my mind until he was not here with me any more. Jim loved bridge. He was terrific at it.
We had not begun to try to work out a retired life together. We were only beginning to feel out what we could do together now with our time (and the money my mother unexpectedly left me). He was yearning to return to NYC. I said to a friend retirement rightly understood is not sameness but change. It would have been another act together. He’s left the stage. When my two photos for tonight were taken I was not alone, but crowded in.
There’s nothing I wouldn’t give to have him back with me.