Friday, January 29, 2010

a trip I had to take without him

Earlier this month I was privileged to be able to spend a week in Durham, North Carolina, with my maternal uncle and his longtime girlfriend. They are wonderful people whom I did not get much of a chance to know until eight or so years ago, when they visited my mother during her terminal illness, came to her funeral and even a year later to the unveiling (a micro-funeral of sorts held on the first anniversary). That was the silver lining to that awful situation; learning how wonderful they are.

Among the many places in the culturally/intellectually elevated city of Durham (two universities, two others in the adjacent cities of Raleigh and Chapel Hill and the world-famous Research Triangle) we got to see were the new baseball park, the old one featured in one of Jim's favorite movies, Bull Durham (still in use by a college team) and the offices of Baseball America.

Though we showed up unannounced to his door, the editor treated us graciously, even though part of my mission was to cancel Jim's long-held subscription. At least I got to explain why, and to express in person that this had been his favorite publication for years (there had even been a brief discussion of his becoming a correspondent, though this never came to fruition).

I asked the editor, I am going to ask a couple of other baseball afficiandos that he knew, and I will ask all readers of this blog for suggestions on what to do with Jim's collection of baseball books, reference and otherwise. Rather than sending them to any general library, I am hoping for them to go to a specialized institution, or even an individual, who would truly value them as he did. I refuse to use the terms "dispose of" or "get rid of" his possessions. Jim's things all meant a lot to him, and of course they mean a lot to me, as well.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The tale of the white feather

Something I have learned is that many churches, bereavement groups and, well, cemeteries hold special group memorials in the early part of December -- often in conjunction with Advent. And so it was at Green Acres.

I went down there that evening, more than a month ago, now. Many had candles, but I neglected to buy one. Luckily, I had my flashlight and a map; finally, I found the spot, which does not yet have its headstone. As with the other mourners, we were each at the spot we needed to be at.

Those of you who were there with me three months ago today know that we were able to follow one of Jim's strong wishes, to have him buried by the duck pond (in what turned out to be the last plot available).

As I got there, I saw that there were ducks of all colors, including white, who quacked and then fell silent as the music began.

As I found the spot, right on the spot, I found a single feather ... a white feather ... bent almost as though it were angel's wings.

I searched all around for many feet all around, including closer to the duck pond. But I didn't see any other feathers.

You may interpret that as you like. I do my best to take comfort in it. And, yes, I still have the white feather.