First: My beloved sister Nancy (photo left, standing in front of our old Junior High School during a recent trip down memory lane) who owns and runs the beguiling Arbor B & B in High Falls, New York, less than two hours from the city, smack in the center of the alluring beauty of the countryside. Remember the waterfalls into which Natalie Wood flings herself in ‘Splendor in the Grass’? That’s High Falls; the dramatic falls a two minute walk from the Arbor – its gardens, it’s crisp sheets, it’s enfolding duvets and squeaky swing on front porch. Marc Chagal spent the war years in High Falls after barely escaping from the grasping fingers of Hitler’s goons. And, until you’ve tasted Nancy’s breakfast of Herbed Eggs, you haven’t lived, as I hadn’t, until I did. We know and love each other longer than anyone else in both our lives who remains alive. How lucky I am!
Second: My dear friend Marianne Ihlen. Here’a a photo of Marianne only a few weeks before her recent sudden death, dancing with our young friend, Zoe, during a visit to Oslo.
In the fifties/sixties, ‘almost young,’ poor and unknown Leonard Cohen (a Canadian), met also ‘almost young’ also poor, very beautiful and abandoned, Marianne (a Norwegian) and her young son, Axel, on the rough and dreamy Isle of Hydra in Greece in Greece. They lived together there, traveled and loved each other. Many songs that still reverberate their romance resulted – ‘So Long Marianne‘ ‘Bird on a Wire‘ – among others. We also met on Hydra, in the 70s, and remained friends throughout the years. At one point, breaking a precedent at the time, Marianne agreed to an interview for my book ‘Love In the Second Act, True Stories of Romance, Midlife and Beyond.’ Since then, Marianne has become the subject of a memoir – ‘So Long Marianne‘ – written by Kari Hesthamer and edited, also translated, by Helle Goldman.
Third: Solly Ganor, originally from Lithuania, friend and author of ‘Light One Candle‘ and several sequel autobiographies. He lives in Israel with his wife Pola. I met Solly through historian Eric Saul in Los Angeles years ago and was bowled over by the fiber of the man as well as the unbearable nature of his youthful history. He became a willing subject in two of my Holocaust-related books – ‘A Special Fate: Chiune Sugihara, Hero of the Holocaust‘ and ‘Fiet’s Vase and Other Stories of Survival, Europe 1939-1945.’ If you read nothing else about the Shoah during your lifetime, I suggest you read Solly’s Light One Candle. It says it all and will stay with you evermore.
Writing this I realize the extent of my riches – these loved ones, this sister, those friends, those infinitely deep and complex beings who have enhanced and flavored my life tenfold. Indeed ‘ … friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold‘ (Oliver Wendell Holmes). I breathe those loved ones in to mark the date of their birth; and in, and in and never cease being nourished by each of their aromatic souls.
Happy Birthday dear ones !!!
Song – On May Morning
Now the bright morning star, day’s harbinger,
Comes dancing from the east, and leads with her
The flowery May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip, and the pale primrose.
Hail, bounteous May, that doth inspire Mirth, and youth,
and warm desire; Woods and groves are of thy dressing,
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing,
Thus we salute thee with our early song,
And welcome thee, and wish thee long.