An Open Letter to Cindy Sheehan

This week’s edition of Dymphna’s Greatest Hits takes us back to a topic that after fifteen years has already faded into the mists of history. Cindy Sheehan had her fifteen minutes of fame, and then she moved on to… Well, to whatever people do when their fifteen minutes is up.

For those of you who are too young to remember, or weren’t paying attention at the time: Cindy Sheehan’s son Casey was killed in the Iraq War in 2004. In the summer of 2005 she made headlines as antiwar activist cum grieving mother who held a vigil outside George W. Bush’s ranch in Texas to protest the Iraq war. Later she took part in other “peace” actions, and was associated with Code Pink in some fashion.

Dymphna’s take on Cindy Sheehan was quite different from what was going around in the rest of the right-wing blogosphere in 2005. Since she had lost her own child just two years before, Dymphna had some insight into what another grieving mother might be feeling, and addressed her in that spirit.

It’s now been nine months since Dymphna died. Last summer was a time of horror and devastation for me, against which my psyche has protected me by making me unable to remember a lot of it. I just have flashes, snapshots, brief vignettes from those first awful weeks — enough to recall the utter misery of it. And it’s still here with me, but nowhere near as intense.

However… After living with Dymphna through the time of Shelagh’s death, I can tell you that the death of a child is far worse than the death of a spouse. Dymphna never really came back to her old self afterwards. I encouraged her to start this blog as a way to bring herself out of the worst of it, to mitigate her bottomless sorrow by doing something useful and important that drew on her gifts as a writer.

And here I am, fifteen years later, circling back to revisit that difficult time. Re-reading her essay brought it all back for me.

An Open Letter to Cindy Sheehan

by Dymphna
Originally published August 20, 2005

I had to look up your name since I have avoided your story as much as possible. Not out of a lack of compassion for your sorrow, but rather because of my own fragility and the sorrow I carry for my own dead daughter.

Here’s what I know about your story — and when you think about it, to have learned this much despite not having a TV and making an effort to avoid learning about your odyssey, it’s amazing I know as much as I do.

Your son Casey was a soldier and he died in Iraq. At first, you were able to maintain in the face of this catastrophic loss. I believe you even met with the President at one point? See — even I, with no access to regular media and a real wish to avoid your story, even I know these things. Or maybe what I “know” is some garbled version of what has been going on for you in your public grief.

This is a guess — an educated guess from one mother of a dead child to another — but I think things began to unravel as time went on and the reality of Casey’s complete and total and lifelong and irrevocable absence hit your consciousness like a fist sinks into a gut. And the bunched knuckles kept coming back to deliver blow after unending blow.

One picture I happened upon in the grocery store showed you on your knees. I presume it was taken in Crawford since someone who didn’t know me well wanted to discuss your story and said you’d gone to President Bush’s ranch. I remember turning away from your face as you knelt there. Yours was a sorrowful visage, a broken face like the reflection from a fractured mirror. My heart twisted for you even though I barely glanced at the picture.

Your grief has served to polarize others. Some say you’re being used, some dismiss you as “crazy” — and tell me, what mother of a dead child isn’t crazy? You’ve been cheated of your son; you walk through the valley of the shadow of death and no one comes to greet you. There will never, ever again be a laughing bear hug from this son grown tall and handsome.

When a husband or wife dies, we call the surviving partner the widow or widower. Why do you think it is that there is no one word to describe our condition, Cindy? Mother-of-a-dead-child is the best we can do? The lack of a name gives you some inkling how much our culture avoids the knowledge of this sorrow. If we named it we’d have some power over it. But the condition you and I share is unnamed because since time immemorial parents have dreaded this loss. It is the worst. There is nothing else that can be done to us. A motherless child is a pitiful creature and carries a life-long emptiness he or she tries to fill with other grown-ups. A childless mother is a crazy person and nothing can fill the hole, not if she had a baby a year for the rest of her life.

Do you have other children? I have three. And when people ask me, pleasantly, “how many children do you have?” I look at them blankly. It is all I can do to not to run screaming from the room.

Here is where I liken my experience to what is happening to you: after Shelagh’s sudden death, after the Rescue Squad carried her off and I watched them disappear down the drive, after the Medical Examiner returned her body to us, there was lots to do. The first morning I awoke I heard her say distinctly, laughing, “Mom, welcome to the first day of the rest of your life without me.” I think she was trying to make it easier in her Shelagh way.

There was so much to do. Her children needed clothing for the funeral, there were burial arrangements to make, a minister to call, family visitation to be arranged, a burial service to be created. So many, many people to notify. Elderly grandparents and a large contingent of Irish relatives to talk to and arrange for flights. As the days passed, I thought to myself “I can do this. I can just keep having this whole thing to organize and plan and I’ll be okay. As long as I never have to bury her, I’ll be fine.” Yes, this is crazy thinking. Even then, I vaguely knew that.

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Love in the Time of Coronavirus

The title of this post has nothing to do with its content; it just seemed an appropriate header in these parlous pandemic times for an off-topic quote.

The text below is an excerpt from Baja Oklahoma by the late Dan Jenkins (who is better known as the author of Semi-Tough). Dymphna and I both loved the book. At some point back in the ’80s she photocopied the page, trimmed it, and posted it on the refrigerator. When we got a new refrigerator in about 1990, the yellowed clippings from the old one went into an envelope marked “FROM THE OLD REFRIGERATOR”. I found that envelope a few months ago when I was going through boxes of stuff, and have restored the excerpt to the refrigerator:

Mankind’s Ten Stages of Drunkenness

In only twelve years of marriage, Bonnie fancifully transformed herself from Rita Hayworth into Joseph Stalin.

Bonnie deserved all the credit for driving Slick to a unique psychological discovery, the unearthing of Mankind’s Ten Stages of Drunkenness, which were:

1.   Witty and Charming.
2.   Rich and Powerful.
3.   Benevolent.
4.   Clairvoyant.
5.   F**k Dinner.
6.   Patriotic.
7.   Crank up the Enola Gay
8.   Witty and Charming, Part II.
9.   Invisible.
10.   Bulletproof.
 

The last stage was almost certain to end a marriage.

A Host of Kind Faces

This post was a “sticky” feature for a week, and was first published last Monday. Scroll down for items posted since that time.

Winter Fundraiser 2020, Day Seven

Sunday’s Update: Snaps From the Family Album

This morning’s update will be brief, and will include just two final photos of kind faces from my memory. The first one is the above snapshot of Dymphna from 1987. I’ll tell you more about that in a minute, after I get the formalities out of the way.

Tip jarWe’re down to the wire here in the Winter Fundraiser of 2020: this is the final day. If you haven’t put a jingle into the tip cup (or this link), now is the time to do it.

Just think: this is a way to avoid all those noisome and obnoxious ads that you see on most sites. This blog relies entirely on modest donations by individual readers. I have no commercial sponsors. I’m not supported by any foundations or think tanks. The only sponsors are the people who read this site.

So if you appreciate what you find here, please drop a groat in the cup. A reminder: I send 10% of what I fundraise here to Vlad Tepes, whose video work is absolutely crucial to what I do. If you think he deserves more, please visit his site and click his own donate button.

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The photo of Dymphna at the top of this update is one of my all-time favorites. It captures her essence: that is exactly Dymphna, my beloved wife, with whom I spent forty fortunate years.

The picture was taken at my annual art show in the fall of 1987. The venue was a restaurant on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville. I’ve racked my brains trying to figure out who Dymphna was talking to when I took the snap, but I can’t do it. However, I can identify all three paintings on the wall in the background, despite the blurriness. Funny about that.

The final set of kind faces for this fundraiser is a detail from a larger group photo that was taken in the mid-1980s when the future Baron was just a few months old. As far as I know, the fB and I are the only two people in the photo who are still alive, but just in case I’ve cropped the rest of them out:

That’s Dymphna at the top, and her mother seated in front of her. Boy, I sure had more hair in those days. And none of it was white yet.

These last two snaps from the Bodissey family album wrap up the 2020 Winter Fundraiser. I realize that I’ve been wallowing in nostalgia this past week, but then, wallowing is an emotional necessity for me in these our wintry days.

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Saturday’s donors hailed from:

Stateside: Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Mexico, West Virginia, and Washington

Far Abroad: Lithuania and the UK

Canada: Ontario

Australia: Western Australia

This concludes the 2020 Winter Fundraiser for Gates of Vienna. I’ll post a wrap-up with all the locations sometime in the next few days.

A hearty Bodisseyan “thank you” to all those people on four continents who chipped in. It looks like I’ll be set for another quarter.

Saturday’s Update: Miscellaneous Faces From History, Not All of Them Kind

I’ll switch gears this morning and post a series of faces from history, chosen by whim from my image library. The one above shows Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili (a.k.a. Joseph Stalin), Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Sir Winston Churchill at the Tehran Conference in late 1943. Sir Winston’s face might be characterized as “kind”, but FDR’s and Uncle Joe’s not so much.

I have more faces to post, but first a word about what I’ve been doing during this week that is rapidly drawing to a close.

For one week every quarter I beg for money from readers to help keep Gates of Vienna going. The tradition began while Dymphna was alive, and continues in her absence. We depended, and I still depend, on the kindness of strangers. Actually, not all of you are strangers, come to think of it…

So if you haven’t done so already, please click that funky tip cup on the sidebar (or use this link) and drop in a ha’penny or two to help keep this enterprise afloat.

What’s amazing to me is the large number of modest donations that have come in. They’re generally quite small, but there are so MANY of them — they really add up. I’m humbled by your generosity, and pleased to see so many first-time donors.

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Fly Away Home

I don’t know about the rest of the country — or even the rest of Virginia — but the part of the Piedmont I live in has been suffering from a plague of ladybugs for at least the past 25 years.

The first time they came to my attention was in the fall of 1994, which was also the worst year of infestation. The little bastards would get in through the tiniest gaps around windows and doors, and then buzz around the house, forming large clumps in the corners where two walls meet the ceiling. I remember at one point seeing a mass of ladybugs as big as a ping-pong ball in one corner. They all eventually found their way up here to the Eyrie, the highest point in the house. They also seem to prefer to enter through the south window here, which is bright and warm during the day. They make their way through tiny cracks around (or in) the frame, then buzz all around the window, and spread to the rest of the room. When there are a lot of them, I have to cover my coffee cup when I’m not sipping from it, because they have a habit of dropping into it and drowning. If I then sip from the cup without looking first, I get an unpleasant surprise — they taste NASTY.

Back in 1994 I resorted to keeping the vacuum cleaner up here in order to deal with the ladybugs. I scrounged around and found all the lengths of pipe extensions we had for it, as well as a four-foot flexible hose. The straight, rigid section I put together was about eight feet long, allowing me to reach almost the entire room while standing in the middle of the floor. Some days I would vacuum up several hundred of them in several passes through the room. I learned to appreciate the satisfying thwip each bug made when it was sucked into the narrow aperture in the outermost attachment at the end of the pipe.

When I was done with a vacuuming session, I put a piece of duct tape over the end of the pipe to keep the prisoners from escaping. I found out early in the game that if I didn’t do that, eventually some of the little demons would make their way out of the pipe and back into the house.

1995 was also bad, but not as bad as 1994. Since then there have been some really bad years, and some where there were almost no ladybugs. But there have been no years in which the annoying creatures were entirely absent.

The period of their annual infestation seems to have gradually moved to later in the season. They used to be here from September until about December, with almost none after New Year’s. Now the peak is generally from January to March. They’re pretty bad this year, which is why I’m writing about them. I sucked up a lot of them yesterday, but many more have come in today.

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These aren’t the normal ladybugs that we were used to before 1994. They’re not bright red, like the ladybugs of my childhood — in fact, they may have displaced the original population, for all I know. They’re kind of dull brown, and not at all attractive.

They’re also aggressive, and will occasionally bite if they land on your skin. They seem to prefer fair Nordic types, and tend to bite them more often. But I’ve been bitten by them a few times — a sudden sharp stinging feeling, followed by itching.

I’ve been told that these new updated ladybugs were introduced into the local ecology by the state department of agriculture, to control the bark beetles. Timber companies have invested in large tracts of pine forests in this area, and the bark beetles are a serious problem for them. I assume they lobbied in Richmond for the ladybug solution.

After I heard about the ladybug project, I realized that I had seen one of the first drops of the bugs back in 1989. The future Baron and I were out for a ride in Nelson County, and we stopped when we saw a helicopter operation in a field next to the road. We watched the helicopter take off, and then a cloud of something was released from its cargo bay into the air above us. Five years later, when the bugs hit and someone told me about their origins, I put two and two together and deduced that the fB and I had seen the first wave of the buggers being released into the local environment.

Now they are permanent residents here, and a permanent nuisance. I don’t suppose that our being plagued with the damned things carries much weight when balanced against the need to harvest enough pine trees to print the Congressional Record and The Washington Post. So we have no choice but to endure them.

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A final note: Typing the word “ladybug” reminded me that what we colonials call “ladybugs” are known as “ladybirds” in England. Or at least they were in the 1960s, when I lived there.

The Temporal Princes

In the early days of this blog, back when I was commuting to work in Richmond and was only home on weekends, Saturday was often designated Poetry Day (and when it wasn’t, it was Ranting Day, which was also fun).

Today’s poem is actually an excerpt from a much longer work by C. Day Lewis, “The Magnetic Mountain”. I’ve never seen any of the rest of the poem, so these four stanzas must be the best part. The excerpt was included in an anthology of modern verse that I was assigned to study for O-level English in the late 1960s. I memorized it back then (we had to memorize lengthy chunks of verse to quote in the exam), but I don’t own a copy of it, so I hadn’t thought of it in decades.

As I mentioned last weekend, I’ve been sorting through a big old trunk of odds and ends. Some of the memorabilia in it are more than fifty years old, and I hadn’t laid eyes on any of the stuff in more than forty years. As a result, I’ve been running into some (mostly pleasant) surprises.

This past week I encountered the first two stanzas of the poem mentioned above in that trunk. I had scribbled them from memory on the cover of a William and Mary notebook — in class, when I was bored — in about 1971. When I saw them, they seemed VERY familiar, and gradually all four stanzas came back to me. But I couldn’t remember who the poet was, so I googled a piece of the text, and found it on someone’s blog (with minor textual errors, and possibly missing some commas).

This is a superb poem. I’m glad I recovered it after all these years. It’s somewhat gloomy, but I’ve just returned from a funeral, so gloom is appropriate:

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A Cat Who Depends on Secondary Sources

This week’s edition of Dymphna’s Greatest Hits is an unusual one: not only has the poem below never been published before, but until now it had never existed except in manuscript form. It was written in pencil on a half-sheet of paper torn out of a spiral notebook. As far as I know she wrote it in the late winter of 1978-79, a few months before we met. It was the first poem by Dymphna I ever read.

Charlie was a stray cat who wandered into Dymphna’s household in Maryland and was adopted by her (probably at the behest of her kids). When she moved in here the following summer, Charlie came with her. I remember him as an amiable fellow, but he didn’t stick around very long. He hadn’t yet fully bonded with Schloss Bodissey, and it may be that the lure of the vast wilderness outside the front door was irresistible to him. In any case, a few days after he arrived he went out one morning and never returned.

Charlie was here so briefly that no photos were ever taken of him, so I used a picture of Moe instead for the header of this post. I don’t think Charlie had any black on him, but the picture will have to do.

[Moe appeared in this space a few times a quarter-century later, most notably in a heroic role in 2005 when his piteous meowing alerted his master that his mistress had fallen off a ladder picking figs and couldn’t get up.]

And now for the poem:

Conversations With Charlie

by Dymphna

Not Nietzsche…
Charlie and I discussed the weather:
Whether it would rain;
When Spring would come;
Where the mice had gone for Winter.

I sat there on the car,
Breathing the becoming air
And glad to be
With Charlie in the dark.

But Nietzsche? No…
Charlie doesn’t read him,
Except in translation,
And I have nothing
To say to a cat
Who depends on secondary sources.

The Well of Memory

This post was a “sticky” feature and was on top throughout fundraising week. Scroll down for the whole week’s worth of more recent items.

Autumn Fundraiser 2019, Day Seven

Sunday’s Update: Madonna and Child

At last! We’ve arrived at the final day of Gates of Vienna’s quarterly fundraising week. After today I’ll stop bugging you for three more months.

Tip jarBut this morning I’ll take this final opportunity to remind everyone what this week is all about: Modest donations from lots and lots of readers provide enough wherewithal to keep this website going. The generosity of our donors has enabled us — and now it’s only me — to get by every quarter. Just barely, but I get by.

I’ll have to postpone indulging my taste for champagne and caviar until one of my relatives gets elected to high office and arranges a place for me on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, with a nice seven-figure annual stipend…

If you’ve only just discovered this fall’s bleg, or if you haven’t already hit the tip cup, please go over to the sidebar and make it clink. Alternatively, you can use this handy link.

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My final installment concerning Memory for this fundraising week will be a few more reminiscences of my time with Dymphna.

The photo at the top of this update shows Dymphna and the future Baron. It was taken in the late 1980s, in the late summer or early fall. That summer had been hot and dry — there was a devastating drought early on, in May and June. In some of the photos from June the grass is utterly withered and brown. But by the time this photo was taken there had obviously been some rain, because plenty of green is visible in the background.

When I came across this photo recently, I looked at Dymphna’s face, and it seemed so recent — there she was! And then I looked at the fB — he obviously wasn’t yet two years old. That means that more than thirty years have passed since that early autumn afternoon.

I can remember a lot about what happened between then and now. A few years after the photo was taken I taught the future Baron to read and write, and made him do his sums. Then Dymphna’s mother came to live with us, and I took care of her for a year until she died.

All through the ’90s we were quite poor. I was painting pictures, and not making any significant money doing it. Dymphna was a social worker, and then later had her own housecleaning business. She kept us afloat, but all those years were pretty lean.

Yet we never lacked for anything. My son had no idea we were poor. He had a VCR and lots of videos. I made sure to take him to the beach at least once every summer. We didn’t get to stay at any high-toned beach accommodations, mind you, but that didn’t matter to him — he was just a kid. Staying in a little cabin and eating at Burger King was fine with him.

Just before Y2K I had to stop home-schooling him, because my skills in chemistry and physics were minimal. We sent him to private school, and I found well-paying work as a programmer so that we could afford it. The Lord provided. It worked out.

Just before he graduated from high school, his sister Shelagh, Dymphna’s daughter, died of a methadone overdose. The fB went off to college, and Dymphna went into a tailspin that she never really recovered from.

The foundation of this blog was my idea: I thought it might help her work through the pain of grieving. And it did. Most of you have seen her early work on this site, either when she originally wrote it twelve or fifteen years ago, or in the reposts I’ve been doing since she died. She was a powerhouse of a writer, and putting her heart into her essays help bring her back to the land of the living. Even as her condition worsened (she suffered from fibromyalgia), she kept at it as much as she could, right up until the end.

And now here I am, maintaining the site by myself and dealing with my own pain of grieving. My wife is gone, but she lives on in her writings, and is ever-present with me in this empty house that we shared for forty years.

I will always remember her, as long as memory remains.

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Knowing Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

This week’s edition of Dymphna’s Greatest Hits requires a special explanation, because the poem featured below has never previously been published. She wrote it in the summer of 1995 as part of an extended collection that we called Therapy Poems, although its official title eventually became Intense Disclosures (which itself would require a separate essay to explain, but Wallace Stevens aficionados may recognize the reference).

Dymphna liked to say that she had been in therapy longer than Woody Allen. She had seen several therapists before I met her, but after we got together we were quite poor for almost two decades, so her opportunities for professional psychotherapeutic assistance became very infrequent.

In the mid-1990s, however, she was given the opportunity to have weekly sessions with a young psychiatrist who had just entered his residency. She was to be the central case for his thesis, or whatever it is that psychiatric residents do to achieve their final release from training and be allowed to practice. She was able to see him gratis for therapy once a week over a period of a couple of years.

She was, as she herself described it, a Difficult Patient. She knew far too much about psychology, philosophy, theology, and other esoteric subjects to be easy going for a therapist. Fortunately, her doctor was (and is) a competent, kind, considerate, and humane man, and was able to navigate the stormy seas raised by Dymphna’s psychological tempest.

Their sessions were intense, needless to say. Early in their relationship she took to writing a poem after every session, which she would then deliver to him at the start of their next meeting. At the end of his residency, when he had to terminate the therapy, she collected the poems together into a volume entitled Intense Disclosures, had it printed and bound, and gave him a copy.

To create the book, she turned all the original Word documents over to me, and I did all the formatting and indexing necessary for the print version. As a result, I have the full collection — which we always called “Therapy Poems” between ourselves until she picked out an official title — in a form that is easily accessible. “There is a Midnight” (which I posted as part of my eulogy for her), was a member of that collection, as was “Lament For My Brother”, which I posted here.

The poem below may be the best in the collection. She wrote it when she was very unhappy and angry with her therapist (as patients in psychotherapy often are). He was such a WASPy guy, with his blond hair and blue eyes, so she tweaked his nose with “To Young Dr. O’Malley From the Bi-Polar on Ward A-2”.

The poem would still be worth reading if the story ended there. However, after he had read it, he confided to her a personal detail about his life: he had recently learned that his parents had adopted him, and that his biological parents were in fact Jewish. He looked so Aryan, and had been raised a Christian, but genetically speaking, he was a Jew.

Not an old one, though. Not yet.

The poem is below the jump. By the way: “O’Malley” is not his real surname, so there’s no point in searching the lists of accredited Virginia psychiatrists to try and find him.

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Dust Off Those Rusty Keys Just One More Time

Today is the fifteenth anniversary of the founding of Gates of Vienna. It should be an auspicious occasion, but the fact that Dymphna can’t help me commemorate it has kind of taken the starch out of me. I just don’t have that much to say.

So we’ll have some music instead. Thinking about this anniversary made the song “Stella Blue” by the Grateful Dead came into my mind. It was a staple of their live shows for more than twenty years, from 1973 until whatever the last one was before Jerry Garcia died. The studio version was first released in the summer of 1973 on the album Wake of the Flood, but I first heard it at a live show in Philly in March of 1973.

This version is from 1977 at Winterland. It doesn’t include any video footage, but I chose it for Garcia’s fine guitar solos, even if he does blow the words in a couple of places:

The lyrics are below the jump (the official version from Robert Hunter’s collection A Box of Rain):

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The Past is a Foreign Country…

…They do things differently there.*

In this particular province of the past, Dymphna smokes a cigarette. Indoors. And in an art gallery, no less.

Those were different times. The poets studied rules of verse, and all the ladies rolled their eyes.

Our Russian commenter Elena requested that I post a photo of Dymphna when she was young. This is among the best from those early years. It was taken in 1982, when she was in her early forties, at the opening for one of my art shows in Washington D.C.

The photo of Dymphna holding the puppy (posted here) remains my overall favorite, but this one is a close second.

* L. P. Hartley, from The Go-Between

It is This That the Darkness is For

My wife Dymphna died three months ago today. Writing about her from time to time helps me cope with the devastation of losing her. This post is off-topic from the primary mission of this site, so readers may skip it without missing anything.

Early in our relationship I introduced Dymphna to the music of Leonard Cohen, and she eventually became at least as much of a fan as I was. A couple of months into our marriage we were listening to the album Songs From a Room, and I suddenly realized the significance of one of the songs. “Listen,” I said, “that’s our song.” She paid close attention to the lyrics, and agreed that it was true. So from then on, for the rest of our time together, it was “Our Song”.

I’ll explain why it seemed appropriate, but first listen to “Lady Midnight” by Leonard Cohen:

Dymphna and I met in the spring of 1979, in a bar in suburban Maryland near where my mother lived. I had gone to elementary and junior high school there, so I knew the area well.

My father had died the previous winter, and my mother and I had just returned from a trip to New England to inter his ashes in the family plot. The return home became a grueling ordeal after her car blew a head gasket in upstate New York. When we finally got back to Maryland, I said, “I really need a beer,” and went off to a bar at a nearby golf course where the bartender was an old friend of mine.

I had reached the point in my life where I wanted to get married and settle down. I knew that you don’t meet the woman you’re going to marry in a bar — I had always been told that, and still think it’s true, as a general rule — so I wasn’t there to pick up chicks; I was just drinking a beer and talking to the bartender.

While I was standing there at the bar a woman in distress came through the door, approached the bar, and said, “My battery’s dead; I need help.” She had been there for a drink a little while before, and when she left, her car wouldn’t start.

The bartender waved his hand towards me and said, “This is the man you need to talk to. I’ve known him for more than twenty years, and can vouch for him.” So I went out to the parking lot with her, moved my car over to hers, got the jumper cables, and started her car.

We left it idling to charge the battery and went back into the bar. She said, “The least I can do now is buy you a drink.” So I got another beer, and she ordered a drink for herself (dry vermouth, if I remember rightly — that was her customary drink in those days).

We introduced ourselves and began a conversation. I noticed that in addition to being attractive, she was obviously well-educated and -informed on various topics that also interested me. After a while my attraction to her must have become obvious, because she said: “I don’t do one-night stands, you know.”

Well. I was genuinely affronted, since that was the farthest thing from my mind — as I mentioned earlier, I wanted to get married, settle down, and have kids. So I said: “I don’t have to take this s***!”, turned on my heel, and went to the gents’ to cool down.

When I came back a few minutes later she apologized profusely, and we resumed our conversation without further rancor. It wasn’t long before the age difference — she was ten years older than I — ceased to matter. The attraction was mutual, and we arranged to meet the following night (a Saturday) for dinner at the Double-T Diner up in Edmondson.

The rest is history, as told in my eulogy back in June.

So remember, boys and girls: you won’t meet your future wife or husband in a bar. Dymphna is the exception that proves the rule.

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Now, having heard the tale of The Night Baron Met Dymphna, read the lyrics of “Lady Midnight” and see why we decided it was Our Song:

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