|Rosemary - Circa 1976/77|
There is no single way to read well, though there is a prime reason why we should read. Information is endlessly available to us; where shall freedom be found? If you are fortunate, you encounter a particular teacher who can help, yet finally you are alone, going on without further mediation. Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you, because it is, at least in my experience, the most healing of pleasures. It returns you to otherness, whether in yourself or in friends, or in those who might become friends. Imaginative literature is otherness, and as such alleviates loneliness. We read not only because we cannot know enough people, but because friendship is so vulnerable, so likely to diminish or disappear, overcome by space, time, imperfect sympathies, and all the sorrows of familial and passional life.
Harold Bloom – How to Read and Why - 2000
Since my Rosemary died on December 9, 2020 I have been plagued by an unending melancholy that does not dissipate.
A small part of the problem may be the Covid isolation since February 2020. I believe that it is more about the isolation that advance aged brings to all of us.
exactly two friends who are older than my 79 years. Both are 94. Barbara Cook
lives in North Vancouver and Raymond Fleck in Pasadena, California. In these
uncertain times these two bring me some stability. Both have working minds that challenge me when I connect with them.
Of the many
writers I worked with for magazines only about four are still alive. I have (I
am lucky) five first cousins. Unfortunately we are so apart politically, that it
is difficult for me to converse with them. My grandmother used to say,"You inherit your family - you choose your friends."
A friend from 1970 in Mexico, who I found again a few months ago, asked me in an email if I was healthy. I answered that I was and that I was taking statins. He replied, “You lied to me. You are not healthy. I am going to block you.” This he did.
Another friend from the early 60s, some almost 10 years ago, told me he no longer needed to talk to me as he read my blog.
Another local editor I worked with for years told me on the phone, “You manage to call me every time I am about to go on a Zoom meeting.” I no longer call him.
A woman friend whom I would call at different hours of the afternoon or evening would tell me every time, “I am about to have supper with…” I don’t call anymore.
It seems that the protocol now is to text, “Can I call you in a bit? Or what would be a good time?”’
I long for that past century when you always answered the black phone and nobody told you that there was a warrant for your arrest for illegally bringing some prohibited product into Canada.
I think that anybody reading this, who has gotten this far, will understand what I am getting at.
In my past life I have been lucky enough to have had mentors who gave me that needed stability without ranting in the polarizing nature so common now. I will list below the blogs where I have written about them.
mentor (a most stable one) was my wife Rosemary. With her gone what can I do?
In this isolation, where I really do not know how to pay bills or deal with
taxes, my two daughters have stepped in. They are taking care of the old man.
They call every day. I am grateful.
This stability that I crave is now being provided by my more-than-human (with a salute to Theodore Sturgeon) Niño and Niña, brother and sister cats. They are constantly with me and talk to me when I seem to be ignoring them. I get up early to feed them and within minutes Niña is back to our bed to keep me company while I breakfast with the NY Times and the Vancouver Sun. Within 40 minutes we are joined by Niño. With both on top of me a desire for me to want to do anything is reduced. When I turn off the lights at night they are immediately close to me and provide me with a warmth, that while it could never be Rosemary’s, is wonderful in its own way.