Benny's World

Monday, January 23, 2006

Crossing the Bar

Chancelucky wondered if my blog was turning into a memorial blog because I've notice people who brought joie la vivre or meaning to my life have been crossing the bar.

Last week it was Wilson Pickett, who was famous for "In the Midnight Hour", "Funky Broadway" and "Don't Fight It" were hits that I remember from the 60's and 70's.

The same day, but unbeknownst to me until my sister called today, our friend Jay Rushing died. I have pictures of him, but they are not digital so, I will have to use gifs or jpgs instead. Jay was an English professor and one of my advisors when I attended college at Texas Tech University. He had a great love for literature and for folk/country music. He could play a little guitar, and was voracious reader.

He used to mail order English and Australian mysteries for his wife, and it was said that on Friday nights, she would start a new one. Friday night was another special time in the Rushing household, as I dubbed it "Friday Night Free for All." Generally, that meant that Jane, his wife, wouldn't have to make a meal, but cook pizza and Jay always brought home snacks and cookies, in particular, Cheetos and Little Debbies cookies. About 3 different varieties of Little Debbies were kept around. I think my favorite was the chocolate filled with creme, and I think that was his favorite, but he was fond of the jelly filled ones too.

Jay had a very sweet tooth, and often he kept a stash of chocolates in his office. If you dropped by and he found out you hadn't had anything to eat, he'd offer you a mini-Snickers bar.

I enjoyed his stories about when he was in the army or going to school, living in various boarding houses. He enjoyed popular music, and he would pull out pictures of him and old girlfriends, especially when he and I would listen to grand oldies such as the Mills' Brothers "Paper Doll." Over the years, I sent him recordings of the Chieftains doing collaborations with Willie Nelson, Asleep at the Wheel's' Tribute to Bob Wills, and various other folkies. I think the last thing I played "Land of Might Have Been" for him was from the movie Gosford Park. Jay complete understood why I played it: it was because I loved his and Jane's only child when we were in college, and somehow, it was meant to be a college romance and into our early twenties, but our values at the time seemed so far apart.

Jane died in 1997 on my birthday. I was not invited to go to the funeral because it was thought it might be disruptive because their child's spouse was still very jealous of that college romance. Jane and Jay often said it was because I was only other love that mattered.

Jay held on for 8 and half years. I was amazed how he managed to find a friend or two in town, and he led a pretty good life. I'm certain the last couple of months were tough. I last talked with him last May. He was in good spirits, but his chest and breathing were becoming more shallow. He drew his last breath on January 19th.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.--Tennyson

I will miss Jay, as I have Jane. Now they are both gone, but I have great memories of them. I thank them for being my teachers, sometimes loving parents, and at the last, loving friends. To quote Paul McCartney's lyrics in his tribute to John Lennon posthumously:

And if I said
I really love you and was glad you came long
If you were here today..
and that you were in my song.

Here Today