Memories to Julia Hikes

Dear Julia,

I made it, perhaps a little late, as always. But you knew I would come. So I'm here, our first lunch on the Esplanade in a long time. I don't think it is first this year. I think we maybe had one earlier, during one of Boston's first stabs at spring.

I expect you know it's not the same. I know you are here. You are sitting here sipping wine with Charlie, wine poured from the discrete red decanter, the one you and Charlie found in Spain. If that decanter doesn't mean anything to Judy or Ann, I would like it. I'll place it in my home next to your Papa's copper coffee pot.

I never knew Papa, not in person, but he holds a place in my home and heart because he was so special to your ne'er-do-well sister... my Mom. He and she use to sit at the breakfast table together, when she was just turned teen age, he drinking coffee made in that pot, ever so meticulously made. "You have to pour just a spoonful of water at a time, over the fresh ground coffee, slowly..."

You and I sat on this bench sipping wine poured from that decanter and watched the life of this river. I expected to see the fish flapping and splashing their way upstream to spawn. But they aren't here. Am I early? Will I come back? I don't know. Perhaps I will. It won't be the same. So I sit today perhaps for the last time remembering.

I always thought all of us were suppose to be as creative as you and Grummy and your grandmother, Mrs. Truitt-Bishop. I REALLY didn't know her. She and Papa didn't get along and that meant she hated my Mom, one of Papa's favorites. Did you know that Mom woke one night to find your grandmother over her with a raised axe? Probably not. You were grandmother Bishop's favorite. You were the brilliant gifted writer and I suspect that Mom reminded your grandmother of Papa's incessant desire to keep your Mama pregnant until another boy was born. Ah, but what a brood she brought into this world, what a very wonderful and special legacy.

Julia, the fish have arrived! AND some Canadian geese with two yellow fuzzy babies and the ridiculous tourist bus/boats - the Boston duck tours - and the peaceful, graceful sail boats crisscrossing the Charles this most beautiful spring afternoon.

Well you died before we solved the world's problems. I suppose we all will. You died under your own terms, as close as any of us ever do at any rate, before your friends and family forgot who you were. You were so scared of dying like Janice, forgotten, an after thought. I suspect that that is not how Janice really died. I suspect she is remembered, maybe not always favorably but remembered. You will be remembered just as Mom is and I will be - our good times, our bad times, the times we've brought great and good things to this earth and the times we've brought pain and hurt to her. I know that Janice brought good things because I've seen them but I've also witnessed the hurt and I think you know about that, even if you were not the target.

Julia, I will remember you just as you are, your stubborn anger at what the hospital was doing to you - you hated that oxygen mask - the moments you became indignantly prickly when we disagreed, the stories you would tell me about your picnics with Charlie, along the banks of the Charles and in Spain, the politics from local - how could the city politicians be so stupid as to allow the not so slow deterioration of the Salt and Pepper Bridge - to national - Our man, Bradley just might make it - He didn't but I hear Ralph Nader is on the ballot.

And I'll remember the words you wrote me when Mom died, the words that accompanied those great balloons, the only words that brought me solace -

There goes my Peg...

...That gorgeous balloon, going up into mystery & wonder, makes me think of how it must be for her. And how happy I am that the tethers have loosed, and she is free____________________________!

Julia, life can hold us down in bodies that are deteriorating faster than the Salt and Pepper bridge. But you knew that even if we could be repaired as easily as that bridge we need to fly free no matter how the world remembers us.

I love you. I will always love you. I love our times on this park bench. I love our times in Characters. I love our times, what seems like long ago now, in your kitchen around your table eating the sweetest tasting homemade bread. Oh, I could eat a loaf of that bread...

And, of course, I'll always look upon the framed hand embroidery in my kitchen and remember you, Mom, Grummy & the entire special family...


You are welcome here
Be at your ease,

Get up when you're ready,
Go to bed when you please

Happy to share with you
such as we've got:
The leaks in the roof
The soup in the pot

You don't have to thank us
or laugh at our jokes
sit deep and come often
you're one of the folks.

So who's idea was Lady Chatterley's Lover, yours or Grummy's?