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Bobbie’s Beat

Modified: Friday, Aug 30th, 2013

Bobbie Lippman

‘I’ve Got You, Babe!’

The first person who sent me the following beautiful piece of writing was our dear friend Bruce Mate, who said it has given him great comfort since he lost his dad.  When it kept showing up in my mail from people I know, or don’t know, I printed it out to carry around and read when the blues set in – which continues to happen with alarming regularity and without warning.  But I’ve decided this has to be part of the Grief Journey.  With so much going on (friends and family arriving from near and far for Burt’s Celebration of Life), there wasn’t going to be a column this week, but each time I got to that sentence “Call me by my old familiar name,” a story began to take shape.  Go ahead and read Mr. Holland’s words, and then I’ll share something most of you probably don’t know. Or maybe you do.

• • •

“All is Well”

by Canon Henry Scott Holland

Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room. I am I and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by my old familiar name. Speak to me in the easy way you have always used. Put no difference into your tone; wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word it always was. Let it be spoken without effort, without the ghost of a shadow on it. Life means all that it ever meant. I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well.

• • •

I don’t remember when Burt started calling me “Babe,” but it was well over 40 years ago.  I seriously doubt it had anything to do with Sonny and Cher singing “I’ve Got You Babe,” but who cares. To me it was an endearing name, and I started calling him “Babe” in return.  That’s how we communicated almost 100 percent of the time, privately and publicly.  Many couples have pet names for one another.  I think the only time we used Burt and Bobbie was when we were speaking about one another to other people.  I’ve heard from widows and widowers who tell me they “talk” to their partner who is no longer here.  I wasn’t able to do this because the only time I called Burt by his given name was when I was mad at him or really needed to get his attention.  Since receiving “All Is Well” from Bruce Mate, I am now so comfortable, especially at bedtime, carrying on long (and longing) conversations with my “Babe.”   If you want a visual, picture me looking up at the top of his beloved flag pole, the extra tall one he bought such a short time ago.  The solar lights work amazingly well even in our foggy, rainy coastal weather, which means the huge American flag can wave respectfully 24/7.  There I stand, sometimes longer than you would believe, talking to the man I almost always called “Babe.”

It never occurred to me that other people might have noticed or thought it funny about us calling one another “Babe” until 14 years ago when we drove from L.A. to Yosemite for Rocki and Glen’s wedding. In our backseat were two people who needed a ride – one was a buddy of Glen’s named Gary.  I’ve no idea what Burt and I talked about during that long drive because we never ran out of things to talk about, but what I do know is that this guy Gary must have been paying attention. Two years later we heard about Gary doing this very funny comedy routine at a party about some couple who carried on a back and forth conversation while calling one another “Babe.”  

I don’t know how you are reacting to this tidbit of history, but the term “Babe” makes me smile and maybe one day Gary will show up in my life again and I’ll beg him to do his comedy routine. 

   Those of us who are dealing with grief need all the smiles we can get.  Right?  Right!

Bobbie Lippman is a professional writer who lives in Seal Rock with her dog, Charley, and a shelter cat named Lap Sitter. Bobbie can be contacted at bobbisbeat@aol.com

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