I picked up my phone today on the first ring. Bob Bidleman’s son was calling and I doubted it meant good news. Bob was in his mid 80’s, in frail health and living in a facility in southern California. I’d last contacted him a few months earlier to give him the news that Woman on the Scarlet Beast was scheduled to be staged in January 2015. Bob had mentored my play since 1988 and though I knew he couldn’t attend the performance, I’d hoped he’d be around to read the reviews. When I heard his son’s voice on the telephone, I knew that wasn’t to be the case. My journey with Bob had ended.
I’m been facing a number of endings lately. Earlier in the week, I sold my home. Looking through the reams of invoices for house repairs I’d kept over the years, I realized several of the workman I’d trusted had passed away. Silently, I thanked them for their labors and for the fact that my 118 year-old house was standing tall. But it wasn’t my old house anymore. It belonged to my neighbor, a young man scarcely in his 30s. When I handed him pertinent papers about his property — faded pictures, a list of craftsman who are still working – he took the material in both hands, carefully, as if I’d given him delicate pieces of blown glass. I’m satisfied he will be a good caretaker, for that’s what he is. “Our” house will survive us both.
Endings have a purpose, I suppose. They force us to pause and take stock of the past instead of always craning our necks toward the future. In the basement are boxes and boxes of memorabilia. I haven’t room for all of them in my new apartment. Some will have to be destroyed… a daunting task for a person who has more past than future ahead of her.
Still I think it’s important to choose. Which of my memories define me? Which are baggage?
As yet, the record of my ending remains a mystery but I can see far ahead enough to be certain of one fact. The memory of Bob Bidleman’s friendship will warm me to the end of my days… until the last door is closed.