which is infinite, which is yes….


I thank you God for this most amazing day,

for the leaping greenly spirits of trees,

and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural,

 which is infinite, which is yes.

ee cummmings

Oct 4, ’13

I encountered an ex-landlady yesterday.  We were both at a local Frame Shop; I was there to talk to the owner about a calligraphy job she had for me to do and my ex-landlady was there to pick up a framing order.  We happily greeted each other.  After we chatted a bit, I asked her how her husband was doing.  I knew, the second I asked because I could see the change of expression in her eyes.  My heart sank.  She told me that he’d died some 3 months ago.

I’ve thought of him often these past 24 hours, since I saw my ex-landlady.  I’ve been having a private, personal celebration of his life today as I think back on those days.  I enjoyed knowing him when I lived in the building he and his wife owned.  At the time, I knew him better than I knew her because he was the person I dealt with the most in our landlord/tenant relationship.  He was the one I reported to when things were broken or if there was any kind of a problem.  He was a teacher at a well-known art school in NYC.  When the school was in session, he was only home on weekends and all through the summer.  The rest of the time he was in NYC.  He was always supportive, respectful and encouraging — of me and my art, which pleased me because I’d seen some of his work, which impressed me as much as his teaching position in the City.  He saw much of my art when he visited my small apartment one day to chase out a bat that had somehow entered the foyer of my largest room.  I’m terrified of and repulsed by bats.  He calmly and gently removed the bat and then stopped to teach me about bats and why they’re important to our ecology.  After that, I had more respect for bats but never learned to love them the way he did.  After the talk on bats, he critiqued my work.  I was thrilled!  The critique was a positive one, not at all a criticism or judgment or from his ego.  I had a new respect for me and my work as a result.  I felt that if I’d had the money to go to his art school and take a class with him that I would have gotten an A.   I felt that he respected me Artist to Artist and that was quite a boost to my morale.  I also felt that he respected me Person to Person and I enjoyed that status.  Another thing we had in common is that we’re both cheap-skate, penny-pinching Yankees who tried hard to get the most bang possible for our bucks.  He was fun to talk to and always interesting.

After I moved I still lived in the area and often encountered him and his wife in the grocery store or the library.  We always stopped to chat and catch up on recent happenings in each other’s lives.  Quite often I’d see that they’d signed my Guest Book when I had an art show in town or nearby.

The last time I saw my ex-landlord was in the grocery store in Litchfield a few years ago.  He was sporting a cane.  When I asked him about it, he said he used it because he was getting old.  For some reason, we both viewed that as quite funny and had a hearty laugh – even though it was true for both of us.  He asked me if I was still afraid of bats.  I reassured him that as much as I didn’t like bats, I respected them and appreciated their part in our world.

I’m sorry he had to go so soon.  I’m glad that our paths crossed and our lives touched during the time I lived in his building and beyond. 

RIP,  R.B. 





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2 Responses to which is infinite, which is yes….

  1. Kathy says:

    What a beautiful post, Gretchen. To think that people like your former landlord can inspire an artist like you. That he could take the time to share, to critique, to honor. This reminds me again that it’s our simple presence which is the greatest gift of all.

  2. beetleypete says:

    I agree with Kathy, a lovely eulogy for a life lost, but lived with great value. Who can ask for more, but to inspire others?
    Regards as always, Pete.

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