Last week Beth and Whitney and I traveled to South Carolina to attend the church service for Beth’s sister Barbara (we call her Bobbie), who died the week prior at the age of 78.
Bobbie was a lovely woman. She did not want for material things, but she never lost touch with what mattered even more to her—simple day-to-day gestures of kindness, and her spiritual life. She had a superb sense of design and color, which was on display in her home and in her wardrobe—and at our wedding, which she and her husband hosted in their glorious back yard back in 1984. (“Yard” really doesn’t do it justice. It was a small botanical garden.) She had a generosity of spirit that helped keep us afloat when Beth stayed with Bobbie when she was out of the hospital, between eye surgeries, while I went back to work in Urbana during the week. Bobbie was the oldest of the Finke siblings; she and Beth were bookends separated by 20 years, and pals to the end. I’m so lucky to have known her, and I already miss her.
It was good to be together with everyone, and as happens during these things, as conversations played out, everybody learned something new about their siblings and parents—who did what, when, etc. The collective memory is a lot better than one’s own.
And Whitney? Well, let’s just say that we convened at a lakeside house with a pier and a box that held a tennis ball. Whitney helped keep us all entertained.
During our stay in South Carolina, I avoided the news pretty successfully. We got home Friday night, and Saturday I made the mistake of checking the news as I gradually re-entered my routine.
Let’s just say the news didn’t cheer me up. I’m at a kind of loss in every way. There’s no way to reconcile the loss of a beautiful soul like Bobbie’s and that ugliness. Except remember that Bobbie did everything she could to make life a little better, so I’ll try to do what I can do, in my way, in her honor.
I’m going to start by doubling down on support for the Southern Poverty Law Center, and by leaving you with a post I wrote awhile back about hearing SPLC’s Morris Dees and Richard Cohen speak.