Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Memories of My Friend Harriet

We were halfway across the country in rural Southern Illinois when we learned of our friend Harriet’s passing.  I was immediately reminded of the James Taylor’s song Fire and Rain, “..but I always thought that I’d see you again.”  One takes for granted that you will see your old friends and relatives again, but at this age there are no guarantees.  Then again were there ever?

I last saw Harriet in November, just before Thanksgiving, at our friend Jill’s new home where I helped her rearrange the furniture in Jill’s living room; in spite of the fact that Jill had not requested the new arrangement.  In September I stopped by to visit Harriet and Stuart at their Kennett Square home on one of my many trips from Virginia to New York.

But I always thought that I would see her again.  There is Peter’s upcoming wedding or surely some occasion where our aging group of friends would eventually meet up again. 

Harriet had been ill for many months, but her disease was in remission when I saw her in September; as she explained details of her battle with the disease that ultimately felled her.  Her “joie de vie” was on full display as she chronicled her long fight and insisted that I too would fight just as fearlessly as she did if faced with similar circumstances.  In spite of my protestations, she told me that she knew I would fight.

Harriet always had an opinion and she was not shy about sharing her opinion.  Whether she was describing how she scolded the locals she knew when she and Stuart lived in Egypt about their responsibility to vote or her overt disapproval of choices her friends made; Harriet’s opinion was always on full display.

Harriet had told my wife Dusty and I that she never had a mentor and that she was her own mentor.  She created a professional path for herself with Silver Lacy Associates; one of the only woman-run sales firms in the business.  Once years ago, we met in New York City while she was visiting one of the vendors she represented at the Decoration and Design Building.  The building is catty-corner from the Bloomingdales on Third Avenue, my longtime client.  She gleefully said, “Martin, look at us, two old hippies all these years later as professional businesspeople.  Who could have imagined?” 

I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older and witnessed more people in my life pass from “here” to wherever “there” is; that all we are ever left with, are memories.  Although Harriet and I had been friends for nearly 50 years, we saw each other only occasionally.  For the most part, our times together were spent as part of a larger circle of relationships.  In spite of that fact, Harriet leaves on me an indelible memory which is truly singular.  Harriet is someone who, for me, there will be no other.