It is truly strange to no longer inhabit the earth,
to no longer practice customs barely acquired,
not to give a meaning of human futurity
to roses, and other expressly promising things:
no longer to be what one was in endlessly anxious hands,
and to set aside even one’s own
proper name like a broken plaything.
Strange: not to go on wishing one’s wishes. Strange
to see all that was once in place, floating
so loosely in space. And it’s hard being dead,
and full of retrieval, before one gradually feels
a little eternity.
Rainer Maria Rilke, from The Duino Elegies
translation A. S. Kline
Somewhat regularly during 2014 and 2015 I met once a week with Farley for lunch, which Lola, his long-time housekeeper would make, and then I’d read to him. Farley and his wife Virginia had helped Lola’s daughters through university, and with the Wheelwrights’ encouragement and support, Lola herself had obtained her high school diploma.
Weather permitting, we’d be in his garden, but sometimes the sun would be too strong or it would be too hot and there were, of course, the infrequent days when rain would keep us indoors. Although he was not as strong as he once was, he managed to open the heavy lid to the box where the outdoor cushions were kept and he would not want me to help him: it was his duty as host to provide.
I heard from those in San Miguel that Farley died last week, aged 99 (December having been his birth month). His close friend Peggy Bell had passed earlier this year and I thought Farley might not long survive Peggy’s passing as she was (to my knowledge) the last link to a San Miguel they and others had shared years ago.