Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sad Day

God, what a craptacular day. First, a good friend called me and said her husband asked her for a divorce this morning. I feel so bad, since I was all, “HEY! Happy Kitten Bicycle Time!” when she called, being that I thought she wanted to talk about the wedding shower she had offered to throw. Ugh...I would kill me if I were someone else. She called me about seven hours later to say he agreed to counseling and apologized, but still. I didn’t even know they were having difficulties. I guess that’s a good thing to remember for later—that you Never know what’s going on in someone’s house unless they tell you. Even my friends with the seemingly seamless and easy marriages have their fair share of problems that sometimes make my own seem so petty.

Then, I went to the 10 Most Beautiful People luncheon for Charleston Magazine and found out that one of the honorees is a friend of mine and a paraplegic, only I DIDN’T KNOW. Last time I saw her, she was drinking wine at a party. Apparently she was in a tragic accident last year and I’ve been out of touch since I haven’t ridden in months, since it's usually my horsey friends who keep me informed. Luckily I called my mom and asked why she was in a wheelchair, before I waltzed up and asked if she'd broken a leg or something.

THEN, Mom sent me an email that my childhood bestest friend's father, Edward Lowndes, died last night. He’s been fighting liver cancer since last year. His funeral is on Saturday, and I assume my friend Margaret will be flying in from Bozeman if she’s not already home. This man was a wonderful curmudgeon, a consummate storyteller and woodsman, a man who tipped his hat at women and was kind to every type of animal, whether it slithered, galloped or flew.

I remember sitting at the table at Bluff Plantation with Margaret and her family when we were in the fifth grade or so. Some British woman was praising the delicious wild turkey that the family had served for supper, and young Rawlings piped up in his prepubescent voice, "Road kill, Madame! Road kill!" And Mr. Lowndes jumped up, threw his napkin down on the table and declared, "Well it was still kicking when we caught it!"

True story.

Another time, I drove up to the house with Margaret and her mother, just in time to see Mr. Edward tear furiously out of the drive with the backhoe, ignoring our waves and shouts. James MacKnight, their farmhand and Margaret's nanny, was standing placidly in the yard. Marie Lowndes says, "James, what's the matter with Mr. Edward?"

James threw his hands up in the air and says, "I ain't know!"

This particular gesture and euphamism became very popular, because as it turned out, Mr. Edward had asked James to please clean out the refrigerator that afternoon. James' method of "cleaning" it was to put the refrigerator on a dolly, wheel it across the yard to the steep 20-foot bluff and toss it into the Edisto River. To this day, you can ask Margaret any difficult question and she'll throw her hands up over her head and say, "I ain't know!"

Edward Lowndes could tell ghost stories that would make all the hair on your neck stand on end for THREE DAYS. He rode in a McClellan calvary saddle on deer drives, with a horn used by his ancestors who signed the Declaration of Independence. He drove a car with horsefeed bags for a back seat. He'd rescue a water moccasin because he said every animal was useful. He could run almost as fast as Margaret to give her a switching. Sometimes his pants were held up with bailing twine, but he was one of the last of the old country gentlemen, and I will never forget the timbre of his voice.

I feel terrible. Like I should have videotaped his stories for the benefit of all mankind. Like I should have gone on more nature walks with him. Bailed more of his hay. Listened to his hound stories. God, my friends’ parents are dying. I can’t even think about what that means.

4 comments:

Wordnerd said...

Don't feel too bad about not having videotaped him...you gave him an awesome tribute right here!

Kak said...

Sarah,
What a way you have with words. Margaret will be proud to read this. I am so sorry to hear about Mr. Lowndes. Please give Margaret and her family my condolences.
Katharine

Marcheline said...

I miss Edward Lowndes, and I never met him.

That should tell you something about yourself.

If it doesn't, let me spell it out.

You R.O.C.K.

Nancy said...

I can totally picture Mr. Lowndes right now chasing Margaret with a switch. You're right - he probably would have caught her.

What a tribute - made me remember several childhood memories!

Isn't it soo sad about Grace?

Glad to have found your blog - as usual, you make me laugh right out loud!

Miss you!
Nancy