mardi, juin 16, 2009

A long shadow

Last night my friend Skip emailed me and told me he and his wife were leaving our township. I had taken my kids for a walk down to the local pizza shop for an ice cream cone, the DQ protesting all the way (except for a few interludes in which she took her brother's bicycle).

More than three years in Glenmoore and I still didn't know Bryan's was closed on Monday.

Why Skip and his wife are leaving is their own business. But the time and love and devotion they have invested in our beautiful community makes this more than a private loss.

I first got to know Skip last year when I was writing a story about local development and looking for someone who could step back and view the local scene with candor and integrity. Like many towns ruled by tiny boards of supervisors, ours is a hotbed on intrigue, class warfare and gossip. Relative objectivity is hard to come by.

He doesn't take sides, said a friend. He's someone you can trust. Truly, Skip is one of those rare people who put the public good above his own, working long hours on our Planning Commission to help each side, or all sides, see the other person's perspective.

Sadly, that is almost a thankless job, in my opinion. But as far as I know, Skip never asked for thanks.

When finally he and his wife came for dinner last fall with some older friends, I was privileged to hear about our township from the perspective of four people who saw the warts and still loved it. I wonder if the generations following have the same passion.

Standing by the tennis courts near the cemetery, I felt bereft. The Saturday before I'd attended the last lunch of a group called the Interlocutors. Founded back in the 1950's or 60's, this group began with one man (then added women) from each profession -- distinguished doctors, lawyers, professors, scientists. By the time I joined, at the invitation of Dr. Digby Baltzell, they were less elite.

Now most of the members wrestle with the ills that befall you in your seventies and eighties. The lunch was both a eulogy and a litany of missing and, sadly, dead members-- as well as some great stories about visitors like Cardinal Bevilacqua. Shocked to hear an old friend with whom we'd lost contact was dying, I sat out in the Wyndham parking lot and called his wife, mourning the passing of an age, of a generation, who seems to me at least, just a little bigger than my own...

Maybe some of us still have room to grow.

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