In the Odyssey, Mentor (Greek: Μέντωρ, Méntōr; gen.: Μέντορος) was the son of Alcimus. In his old age Mentor was a friend of Odysseus. When Odysseus left for the Trojan War, he placed Mentor in charge of his son Telemachus, and of Odysseus' palace.
The above citation from Wikipedia explains why to this day many consider a mentor to be a man and an inspiration of a woman, a muse.
I have written at length in previous blogs about all the mentors in my life beginning with my father and then to the Brothers of Holy Cross at my boarding school in Austin. Pushy art directors in Vancouver made me the photographer I am today and Argentine Juan Manuel Sánchez convinced me to the fact that I was an artist.
My huge negative, slide and photo files of beautiful women attest to the fact that I had many muses.
Of late I have come to understand how wrong I have been. My
grandmother, my mother and particularly my Rosemary (married to her for 52
years) were definite mentors. I would not be the man I am today without them.
My new mentor now is Joan Didion. She did write this:
I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. – Why I Write (essay originally published in the New York Times Book Review in 1976)
As I wrote in this blog (link below) I became tired of finding quotes by her and decided to get one of her books at Macleod Books.
The book in question The Year of Magical Thinking is a tough read. She starts the book a couple of days after her husband John Gregory Dunne died. While I am not Didion, what she writes as she navigates her grief is exactly what has been in my head since December 9, 2020 when Rosemary died.
I can only read a few pages at a time. I marked this page and the quote:
Grief is different. Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehension, that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life.
And there was this one:
I needed to be alone so that he could come back. This was the beginning of my year of magical thinking.
The clincher that inspired my blog for today (13 November 2022 but that I am placing back to fill a gaping hole caused by my listleness) is this one:
I took the bags [after Dunne’s death] of his clothes] to St. James’. One day, a few weeks later, I gathered up more bags and took them to John’s office where he had kept his clothes. I was not yet prepared to address the suits and shirts and jackets but I thought I could handle what remained of the shoes, a start.
I stopped at the door of the room. I could not give away the rest of the shoes. I stood there for a moment, then realized why: he would need shoes if he was to return. The recognition of this thought by no means eradicated the thought.
I have still not tried to determine (say by giving away the shoes) if the thought has lost its power.
Of the Argentine shoe in this scan I remember the exact day in Buenos Aires when I spotted it on the window of a shoe store on Calle Corrientes, half a block from Calle Florida.
For 52 years Rosemary never bought shoes by herself. We went together and most often I chose the pair she would buy. The colours of this pair scream to me of “my Rosemary”.
I have yet to accept that she is gone and that she is never going to return. Joan Didion would understand.