A sudden absence.
You can certainly feel absence, but how to show it? All photographs are of the past. But some seem to remain in nearly real-time while others reflect what is already becoming dim, falling fast into the haze of memory.
My mother’s companion of many years, Ed Becke, died unexpectedly last week. At 90 he was still up and around every day in the little community by the Chesapeake Bay where he spent most of his life, just down the road from my mom’s house. Nearly every day for the last 14 years since they met, Ed would come over to see my mom, have coffee or a meal together, hang out, fix things, water the plants, cut the grass.
Then last Wednesday he didn’t show up on time. My mom called his grandson, who went over, broke down the door, and found him. Just like that. It started raining that day and didn’t stop for several days.
On Saturday, my mom and I went over to see the place and walk on the nearby beach. I don’t know why really. I can only imagine her memories and shock staring at the empty house.
He built an amazing treehouse in the 1960s. It has a bed, heat, and light. For a while he let a young homeless woman sleep in there. He had one old wooden boat named the Barbara Jane after his first daughter. He showed my mom how to drive that one. Another, called Wild Thing, he bought from Sears in 1941 when he was 18. Sometimes he would hop in one boat or the other and motor around the bend to my mom’s house in the next cove. He had a huge collection of shark’s teeth that would wash in from the bay.
He famously installed a Christmas tree on the swim platform 900 feet out from shore - and ran a cable under the water to power the lights - so a dying friend could see it from his bedroom window. It’s been a yearly institution ever since. I wonder who will keep it going.
Too many wonderful qualities and stories to name. I’ll just say he was a great guy, an old-school classic you could always depend on. And he took loving care of my mom, right to the end. I’ll miss him. We’ll all miss him.