(Time out for a personal letter, addressed to my dear wife and partner, Judy Wallace, who passed away on April 29th.)
Right now, I know you would want me to keep my good humor, a positive outlook, and find the best way forward as I set about living my life without you.
You would want me to be happy, to now celebrate your life and our life together, and to not be baglumphing around the house wearing the same shirt for the last week, staring at the refrigerator like it was an alien spacecraft, and wasting time wondering what in the world I’m going to do with your shoes, and the bowl of hard candy left behind on your desk, and your hairbrush. And your love.
You’d also be asking me whatinheck “baglumphing around the house” means.
As the one I always forced to read my final humor column drafts out loud before I submitted them, and who always did so reluctantly, fearing that you’d misspeak one of my word inventions or phrases that might send me scrambling back to the writing board, I hear you stumbling over that one.
Baglumphing, my dear Judy, is a grieving stage of indeterminate length and intensity, a state of mind that has no rules, and no right or wrong application. We’ve all had to baglumph around the house when we’ve lost a loved one, and I’m no exception.
This morning, you’d want me retrieving the eggs from that starship Frigidaire over there and cooking ‘em up the way we both enjoyed, instead of baglumphing about in my rocket ship pajamas, dazedly half-sipping yesterday’s coffee and calling it a meal.
You’d not want me to spend one baglumphing second laboring over what on earth I’m to do with your shoes, as you travel on in a place now where footwear and hard candy and hairbrushes … and love … are all eternally redefined and well-placed.
You’d also want me to share a favorite joke of ours with my readers, and dedicate it to you. And you’d smile that beautiful smile of yours and say to heck with anyone who thinks that doing this here means that I’m not grief-struck, and so terribly missing you, and trying so hard to find my way.
When the celebrated humorist Dorothy Parker’s husband died, she was asked by a friend if there was anything she could do to help. Dorothy (according to legend, which has now become fact) said, “Well, you could get me a new husband.”
Her friend was caught off-guard by such a seemingly insensitive statement, and she told Dorothy how cold and callous that sounded. Dorothy responded, “Okay, then run down to the corner and get me a ham and cheese on rye, and hold the mayo.”
Anyone who knew you, my sweet Judy, would see you smiling that radiant smile over that, and feel the endearment and uplifting spirit it brought to so many.
The world has lost much of its joy and luster because you no longer walk upon it, and now it’s stuck with a baglumphing humorist who must proofread his own copy without the benefit of your cautious narrative, and remember all by himself to change out of his rocket ship pajamas before going to the post office.
Over there are my shoes --- the ones you gave me for my last birthday. They must now carry me along without you, baglumph and all. I will do my best to wear them well. Rest now, my dear Judy, and thank you, from all of us left behind, for our walk together, ended too soon.
Forever stepping along in the memory of you, with love and laughter, El
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Copyright 2012, all rights reserved, by syndicated humor columnist B. Elwin Sherman. Used here with permission.
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