Closure at Dawn

Aug 12, 2012 | 2 comments

Penny and Howard left Oysterville just as the sun was coming up this morning.  It didn’t feel like a final goodbye, even though chances seem slim that we will meet again.  Our connection, Louise Mannheim Espy, is now up at the cemetery with Willard and with the rest of the generations before ours.  It’s hard to believe that my generation – my cousins and I – are next in line.

The weekend went by in a whirlwind and was surprisingly pleasant.  The gathering at the cemetery yesterday and, later, at the house, was a wonderful mixture of old and new friends – of New Yorkers and Californians and Peninsula folks whose lives had intertwined with Louise’s and ours.   There was much laughter and reminiscing, as well as food for thought.

And there might have been some history made, as well.  At the cemetery Howard, Louise’s friend and surrogate grandson who had made the trip from NYC with Penny, donned his yarmulke and read a traditional Jewish funeral prayer.

Someone later asked (not as irreverently as it sounds, perhaps because they, too, were Jewish) if Louise is the “token Jew” at the Oysterville Cemetery – a question several of us pondered but couldn’t answer.  All I could think of in response was that Louise was never “token” anything in life – a more vibrant and participatory ‘main-stream’ person could not be imagined.

In an odd way, she seems more a tangible presence now that she is up in the cemetery than she did when she was living in far-off New York.  I guess it’s because she is here in familiar territory to us, just as she was during the years that she and Willard were in the Red Cottage across the road.  I could never quite picture her (or Willard, for that matter) in her day-to-day life in Manhattan.  But now she is here, as she wished, forever surrounded by the soft sounds of wind and not-so-distant waves.

We will think of her each summer as the fence at the Red Cottage dons its gown of pink roses and when we eat those jumbo-sized black olives that she often severed at cocktail parties.  And should we be lucky enough to visit with Penny again, we will hear an echo of her distinctive voice and again see her hands duplicated in her daughter’s…

Once more, I am reminded that “closure” is not the same as “ending”…


  1. brigid

    Beautiful tribute.

  2. Pat Thomas

    Yes, a beautiful tribute, for absolutely the most non-token anything woman I’ve had the pleasure to know! And what a tribute that she, a deeply intrenched New Yorker-for-life, wanted to share end with Willard, in the peace of Oysterville.


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