Waving to angels, wherever they may be 

Very clever of you, Joan. First to come back as a dolphin up Corkscrew Creek, swimming so dangerously close to land, so coquettishly, just as we were starting to feast on all your recipes.

Then in my garden a few weeks ago, to drop back again with more theatrics - this time as a polyphemus moth with a five-inch wing span and dramatic yellow eyespots on each of your forewings, once again as we were starting yet another feast, this time under the sycamore tree, a host plant for that particular moth.

Very clever and very beautiful the way you floated off when we pressed too close.

Not that we need reminders to keep talking about you. Not by a long shot. Let’s see. Shortly after you became an angel, Julio came by with some cevich he made from the octopus we rescued from your freezer.

Carmela found an art book of Lucian Freud’s work that she lent to Cathy, one of her students who was interested in his paintings but unable to find a book.

Bev started showing up in one of your fine, oversized shirts. And everywhere I go I see the postcard of one of your paintings, a self-portrait, announcing the show of your work at the Sentient Bean, a really great show, by the way.

Then there’s the ruler/letter opener from RCA’s “field support services” that Boris, your father, who was in advertising in Chicago, must have kept at his desk. I am really enjoying that. Just today I used it to measure a new morning glory leaf, some four inches wide.

Lately, I find myself talking to the departed. Not in a morbid or melancholic way. More out of habit, even though some of these people have been gone a number of years. When I see all the fruit on my fig tree, I automatically think of Betty Lees, a big lover of figs. Now I’ll have to find someone else to give them to.

When I start alphabetizing the books on my bookshelves - a truly summer activity - I find myself telling Madeline, who also arranged her books this way: “You wouldn’t believe how many authors I have whose names start with ‘K’. Who would think?”

Who would think Savannah would have a five-star hotel, I continued “telling” Madeline, who lived here for a spell. A hotel that was built next to a funeral home in the same red brick, the same architectural style. Where someone bought me a glass of wine costing $11.25. Where there are butlers who draw baths and hang up clothes.

And because we are the same age - I thought of her during James Brown’s free concert at Forsyth Park. He’s a little fellow, I say, high-waisted with a big head and a rock of a ring on one finger.

Then there was Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson’s recent appearances in Savannah’s Grayson Stadium when I stood squished in the mosh pit under a Maxwell Parish sky with a whole variety of disparate souls, one a lawyer from Long County and his daughter-in-law who caught Willie’s hat which he tossed from the stage.

Later on a friend told me she ran into her mother, after which she pulled out a cellphone to call her brother with the news.

I told Madeline that, and also about Willie’s 17-year-old son playing guitar, his slightly older sister on the keyboards and the funny way he had of making contact with people in the audience, first with his eyes, then with a sweet wave where his fingers and thumb came together rapidly, reminding me of puppeteer Sheri Lewis when she would do her Lamb Chop character.

At 72, the same age as James Brown, Willie looked a little more ample than before, I said, unlike Dylan, his usual rail-thin self.

No waving to the fans for Dylan, though. And no guitar, either. With the same Donald Duck voice, he’s all about pithy lyrics, the keyboard - and incense, which blended nicely with the sweet smell of weed from the audience.

And while Dylan’s band - a relatively new group for him, a crackerjack band that really cranked it up - Willie and his crew just cruised on through the set.

Later on, Scooter Franks, the man who introduced Willie and has been selling his merchandise for 30 years, told me the drummer’s been him 39 years, the bassman 37, the man playing harmonica 25, the man driving their bus, the Honeysuckle Rose #3, 22 years. No changes for them.

It’s nice talking to my old pals, remembering them in these concrete ways. I like it when they answer me back, too.

E-mail Jane at gofish5@earthlink.net


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Jane Fishman


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