Sunday, April 1, 2007

20 things the world needs to remember about my husband (a partial list)

1. He was perhaps the kindest man I've ever seen. Once when our cat caught a vole, he held it tenderly, stroking it, and saying "it'll be okay, little buddy," as it died. Then he buried it in our yard. He cried at sad episodes of "ER." He loved "Homicide: Life on the Streets" and "Freaks and Geeks," and "Firefly."

2. He didn't want to be "entombed." He wanted to be cremated, as he was, and kept in a moveable box so that he could go with us wherever my daughter and I moved. We ended up with a marked place because he knew it would matter to his father. Of course, he goes wherever my daughter and I go, anyway.

3. He was never bored. He could find interest in anything. Where most of us have topics or activities that we find inherently boring, he didn't. He could find something to interest him in any topic.

4. He genuinely liked and accepted people. I am more pessimistic and suspicious by nature, and occasionally am prone to fits of disliking someone because they make me uncomfortable or insecure. He was interested in everybody. Except:

5. He hated mean people. People who were gratuitously nasty, or who acted out their psychodramas on hapless bystanders or family members.

6. He was unbelievably brave; not in a showy way, but in an almost scary ability to endure setbacks, bad news, and plain old physical pain. He had bone metastases for at least 2 years and was able to avoid snapping at me or my daughter, even when he was in terrible pain.

7. He loved his friends. He had a group from childhood, and he treated them (and they him) like the best kind of family. They made multiple trips to see him during his illness, took him to the doctor, and were amazing. And now they are amazing to my daughter and me. They are our family, too.

8. He had a fine sense for art and design. He collected antique bike parts, hoping to one day assemble a bike with them. He loved the purity of a form whose function was transparent. He had impeccable taste in shoes, and he favored fine imported leather shoes, and exquisitely patterned silk ties, usually with a sort of subdued retro quality. He bought a suit for our wedding off the rack at a second-hand store, and wore it with expensive Spanish dress shoes.

9. He ironed all of his own clothes, and mine, too. He could also darn socks. And he kept his shoes, and mine, in a state of perfect polish. Now that he is gone, my toes are scuffed.

10. He rescued animals. He couldn't drive by a loose dog without stopping to be sure there was an owner with it. If not, home it came with him.

11. He was witty and incredibly articulate, but willing to be silent for long periods of time. He wrote beautifully, with a spareness and economy I could never equal. He was startlingly original in his prose, and he wrote scintillating little emails.

12. He called up a radio show to give Calvin Trillin a lunch recommendation in our town. He introduced me to Trillin's works, and to those of MFK Fisher.

13. He had beautiful eyes; they were rootbeer-brown, with long, dark, curved eyelashes. And strong hands. He was amazingly skillful at tiny little manual tasks.

14. He read poetry. Derek Walcott. Robert Bringhurst. And bicycle manuals, and treatises on biodiesel, and the works of John McPhee.

15. He listened to Coltrane. Morphine. Elastica. Neko Case.

16. He and his father once won a sailing award as "Most Indefatigable."

17. He made delicious chocolate mousse. Early in our relationship, he used to make rice krispie treats for me while I was at my evening class. Then we'd eat them while watching QVC and mocking the merchandise.

18. He didn't get mad at other people; often, he turned it in on himself.

19. He hated fundamentalists (on any subject), self-righteousness, and cynicism.

20. His mother died before he was six months old.



At 1:01 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curled up on my battered sofa & seeing both of you, where you so often sat-- you in the big green chair that's covered in wine stains, he in a corner of the little sofa. We both see you here, as the old furniture is arranged in the old pattern in the new place. I see his eyes, too, which were among the most beautiful I've ever, ever seen-- the shape, the colour, the eyelashes, all gorgeous & true. I see him listening-- I see him smiling, & I see him laughing. I see & remember his extraordinary & brilliantly offbeat sense of humour, & his wonderful mimicry-- G still can't hear the words "Buddy Guy" without weeping with laughter.

We came to know well his patience, & his patience with pain & to be bowled over by it. I remember especially for some reason the afternoon that he & your daughter waited at our house while you were doing your diss defence-- & being stunned by it. Remember probably b/c the house was quiet that afternoon, the noise so stripped away that it was impossible not to see. I so wish he hadn't had so many, many chances to quietly show this strength. I remember too, handing him a plate of little things to eat that afternoon, & being given the same smile-- the very same one as he'd given before the word "cancer" was part of all of our lives. And being humbled.

I can see & delight in his wicked smile as well as his happy one-- & his whoops of laughter.

G. remembers often the happy glint & fleeting smile & look when your husband realized that the wine in his glass did not match the wine on the label of the bottle on the table in front of him. He always knew.

I see him speaking of your daughter, & describing the extraordinary feeling-- that he'd not quite expected-- of love for her, different to anything he'd ever known.

I see that photograph of him sitting on the sand, fascinated by something-- but what?-- creeping along in front of him. I love that photograph. I wish I had one, though my mind's eye knows it backwards.

I see him describing the impossibility of covering the paint in your old living room with the same enthusiasm as he had for things that were-- fun.

I see the type on the invitation to your wedding reception, & see him there too.

I see the candle & the glass with which we represented him.

But right now, I see him on the sofa right next to me.

We love & miss all of you Dorcasina.

At 6:15 AM , Blogger Snickollet said...

Thank you for sharing those glimpses of your husband. What a wonderful man he was, what a loss to you, your daughter, your friends, the world.

GH and I have been discussing #2 lately. GH wants to be wherever the twins and I are, and as we'll surely move, the moveable box option is on our list. His family is going to think that's crazy, but so be it.

At 8:50 AM , Blogger Yankee T said...

Oh, Dorcasina, what a lovely portrait of him-and how the commenter added to it. I'm so glad you can do this. It IS important for the world to know, because it's how you keep him alive.
Thinking about you always,no less as time wears on.

At 1:46 PM , Blogger Dorcasina said...

Thank you all, especially my dear Ms. Un-nonymous, for indulging me. For the memories. I miss your furniture, do you know that? I can't imagine it anywhere else but your living room, which will always represent the ultimate in hospitality. And for reminding me about "Buddy Guy." And the wine. And the friendship, when things were so good and when things were so bad.

We call that photo "The God of Small Things"; he's watching the tiny bugs and the smooth polished rocks that will soon be but are not quite yet as fine as grains of sand, marveling at the variety and intricacy of the tiny world before him.

Thank you for remembering him, and the paint, and the photo, and the strength, and the joy, and the wedding....

How empty my life feels, these days.

At 5:25 AM , Blogger OTRgirl said...


At 8:21 AM , Blogger Yankee T said...


At 1:49 AM , Blogger Pantheist Mom said...

What a beautiful, awesome set of qualities. Your daughter will love reading these things one day when she is older. He sounds amazing. ((hugs))

At 1:50 PM , Anonymous cizium said...

Hi, Dorcasina. I feel so touched and impressed by love between you and your husband. thx for sharing it.

At 10:47 AM , Blogger Angela said...

I came over via Snickollet's blog. What a wonderful tribute to an amazing and special man, thank you so much for sharing. I am so very sorry for your loss.


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