By Marsha Rose Joyner
“Child of pure unclouded brow
And dreaming eyes of wonder!
Though time be fleet, and I and thou
Are half a life asunder,
Thy loving smile will surely hail
The love gift of a fairy tale”.
by Lewis Carroll
Time and distance dims memories!
And we all edit our thoughts.
As the White Queen said, “What good is a memory, when it only works in one direction and that is backwards?” In this day of TV and make-believe we have become desensitized and some things are too beautiful to forget.
Thus was Linda!
“A tale begun in other days,
When summer suns were glowing--
A simple chime that served to time
The rhythm of our rowing--
When echoes live in memory yet,
Through envious years should say, “forget”
Linda lived a life of value undefined by property and prosperity.
She lived a life in pursuit of the beauty nestled in everyone and everything – a beauty that is unrecognized by most of us.
Linda led an ever-changing life exploring the unthinkable and the unknowable. Finding the magnificence that is buried deep beneath the surface.
Linda was compelled to give all that she had – a burden not generally appreciated nor understood.
I do not know the time nor the place when she came into my life – but today as I sit with the knowledge that I’ll not hear her happy voice or see her smiling face - I roam from room to room touching the material things that we shared, the precious items she willingly gave away; a set of 19th Century French classic books; a stack of Civil Rights era recordings, [“The Freedom Singers Sing of Freedom Now!” –Mercury Records –1964 – “The Freedom Movement Told by Coretta Scott King” – Caedmon –1969] and many more; her father’s sculptures and of course her love and wisdom.
Linda understood when we give away a small piece of ourselves we get an even greater reward.
And she did give –
I called her “The Modern Day Harriet Tubman”
This Jewish woman with all the gifts that upper middle class in New York can bestow – opened her household to anyone and everyone fleeing the south. Legends of the Civil Rights Movement, the people who most of us only read about and worshiped at their altar, were real to her – because they had stayed at her home.
Linda gave voice to students of other cultures where English was a second language. She opened them to the elements - a world of communications – gave them the courage to read, write and dream in English. She introduced them to poetry in French and Farsi as well as Mozart on the out of tune school piano.
“I have not seen they sunny face,
Nor heard thy silver laughter:
No thought of me shall find a place
In thy life’s hereafter-
Enough that now thou wilt not fail
To listen to my fairy-tale.”
"Love is grabbing hold of the great lion’s mane." The ancient, fiery, Persian poet Hafiz wrote. And she did!
Linda was a warrior: The struggle for equality and justice was never far from the surface. Linda was prepared to suffer for the greater goodness of the world without falling prey to the continued enticement of money and fame. Linda had to go her own way, embolden the weak, bringing light into darkness with a spirit unbroken by the heartbreak and false promises of a world that did not understand.
Playing Beethoven on her beautiful Baby Grand from her living room overlooking West Loch, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii – Linda told me “the ambient noise of your daily routine is about to increase.”
“That is not possible,” I replied.
Bang! Went the piano top. She stood up. The cats scattered.
“Oh yes, they want to build an incinerator in my back yard – we must stop it!”
I walked over to the Lanai doors - It was a clear, bright Sunday. The afternoon sun, moving toward the south facing shores was just beginning to cast shadows. The gentle winds and billowing soft clouds gave an imperceptible repose to the surrounding loch. The sheer beauty of the waves gently licking the shore belied the carnage, which took place here at West Loch- the site of one of the bloodiest events of WWII.
She was right. The noise did increase. We were back on the path again. This time against the modern day Klan dressed in three-piece suits – the corporations and the City & County of Honolulu government and we did stop the incinerator.
“Come; hearken then, ere voice of dread,
With bitter tidings laden,
Shall summon to unwelcome bed
A melancholy maiden!
We are but older children, dear
Who fret to find our bedtime near.”
Last October, Linda, ScottyB, my son, Christopher and I ventured down to Lowndes County. Me, complete with all of my fears and prejudices and Linda armed only with her camera – she so loved everything about the place. The people who'd been involved in the Lowndes County Movement; the overgrown cemetery with its many secrets; the rustic homes that had provided shelter from the rage; the smell of autumn; and the chill in the air. We should all be privy to her view of Lowndes County.
“Without, the frost, the blinding snow,
The storm-wind’s moody madness—
Within, the firelight’s ruddy glow,
And childhood’s nest of gladness
The magic words shall hold thee fast:
Thou shalt not heed the waving blast.”
Linda’s father told her “even if you do not practice being Jewish – always say you are Jewish so that Hitler will not have won”.
Linda lived and loved around the world – from New York, France, Iran, London, Hawaii, California, and “The Black Belt” being devoted to justice and equality - I think when her father welcomed her into the hereafter his first words to her “thanks to you – Hitler will not have won.”
“And, through the shadow of a sigh
May tremble through the story
For “happy summer days” gone by,
It shall not touch with breath of bale,
The pleasure of our fairy-tale”
“Through the Looking-Glass
And what Alice found there”
June 28, 2006