Wednesday, November 21, 2012 — My book presentation yesterday went better than I expected. I was surrounded by a small group of friends, all sitting in the back of our local Atlantic Apothecary, in the somewhat secluded waiting area. No strangers/caregivers came to hear the presentation, although the owner of the Apothecary had well publicized it on his website, Facebook page and Twitter. Nevertheless, my friends and I enjoyed lively conversation about everything from the use of commas to the impermanence of life, they bought books, and occasionally a customer waiting for a prescription to be filled sat among us joining in our talk. We all (six of us) had such a good time that we stayed beyond the two hours scheduled for the presentation. Emma’s amazing healthcare aide at the end of her life, Daphne, phoned me this morning to thank me for the wonderful time and special friends. To the event she brought me a fruit basket that she had made herself. She’s very creative and has become a very special friend.
Sunday afternoon I went to the home of a friend in a historic oystering town where my friend Michael Oates, Emmy-nominated video documentarian, showed his new documentary, on which he has been working for at least 10 years, “White Gold”, about Delaware Bay oystering, the history, the present and the future. Our gathering were a small group of friends, nine of us (I’m the odd one without a spouse) plus Sidney, the black cat, in an over 200-year-old-home, warmed by the flame of a small gas heater, tea, coffee, pecan pie, pumpkin roll, cheese and crackers, and camaraderie, as the late afternoon sun set embracing us in the darkness outside the windows.
All of us have been friends for about a decade, and have been involved in one aspect or another in this story. I appeared in a couple of cameo shots, pen and pad in hand, as the journalist; but Jean and Thumper and their historic Maggie S. Myers Delaware Bay oyster schooner (1893) played the lead.* Jean and Thumper had the best lines, and Thumper’s sea chanteys provided the soundtrack. The peak scene of the movie, I thought, was the Maggie returning home from the boatyard with her new, restored, mast, under sail, white sails on the gray-green Bay, in a moment of complete silence — Mike had turned off the sound. Pure gold. The next day one of our friends emailed me saying that on the way home he and his wife commented on what a diverse and special group of people we are and how thankful we are to have such friends.
We are extraordinary. Such extraordinary talent you’d think would be surfeited with funds from each one’s many achievements; but no, not in this new economic age. These friends, most of them, struggle to make ends meet; these friends do many things to help others for free, for no thought of return. We just do it. That is how life is supposed to be: the true human condition – an exchange of information and ideas, helping one another. What place has greed in all this? Even the turkey you will eat on Thanksgiving offered its life so you may fill yourself and go help others maybe less fortunate.
Tomorrow I go to another friend’s home for Thanksgiving — Jackie, who used to own The Gathering Place (herbs, teas, oddities, local lore) downtown. A photo I took of Jackie’s storefront at this season currently appears as the header on my blog. Jackie and I held wine and cheese receptions at her store promoting the work of some of these “Maggie Myers” friends.
And then there are all of my Linkedin writer caregiver friends, that special dozen of us we call the Roos. We call ourselves the Roos, because some sponsored kangaroos, and now each has chosen a color: I am Turquoise Roo. I started this discussion group in March 2012 to provide a forum for caregivers. We have received responses from around the world, from places such as Cameroon. And the 12 of us have become such close friends – in New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, Canada, and across the United States – that we are amazed. How synchronistic that we have come together at this time. What special friends we are. What would I do without each of them? How would I have gotten through these months following Emma’s death and the birth of my book, Begins the Night Music, to publication, sending it out onto the market.
These are my thoughts and greetings for this Thanksgiving, to each of my family members and my friends, even to you who don’t commemorate our American holiday, who live in those exotic places across the sea that I want to visit one day. These are the blessings I give thanks for.
These friendships, these moments are to be cherished, for they give hope.
My Linkedin friend Linda tells us her husband says, “If life hands you lemons … just add vodka.” Linda and her husband rescued two elderly neighbor couples from Howard Beach, Queens, New York, where they all live, in the face of Hurricane Sandy, driving them in two vans to the home of Linda and her husband in the Catskills only to learn, once they got there, that their own Howard Beach home and entire neighborhood had been devastated, where today still they have no electricity. They have a whole neighborhood without stoves. So, they and their neighbors have tanks of propane and with a barbecue from upstate New York, will roast nearly a flock, it seems, of turkeys. I wish Linda and her family, friends and neighbors a plentiful supply of vodka to go with those lemons and wash down those turkeys.
*You can read my Maggie S. Myers stories here on my blog – I think if you search Maggie Myers or Thumper, the stories will come up. One, of course, is “The Low Whistle of the Wind”, and there are the July Fourth on the Maggie stories. You will find these stories also in my book, Begins the Night Music.