West Tisbury: Memories of Mark


Newly-clipped bare branches when I left, but I was welcomed home by a bouquet of blooming forsythia and a hug from my husband. Talley and Nan ran out to the car to greet me. Edgardo swam to the side of his tank. Nelson climbed onto my lap and went to sleep, purring softly.

My thanks to Beth Kramer for filling in at a moment’s notice as I prepared to leave last Sunday. Skipper Manter delivered the news that my brother Mark was found dead in his apartment in Enfield, Conn., the day before. I never knew he was so sick; maybe he didn’t know either. His friends in Enfield told me he thought he had pneumonia.

He had so many friends. I loved their stories, their kindness to me, shared their tears for my brother.

He was a devoted patron of the Enfield Public Library, and volunteered there. Reading brought us closer together as we aged. Talking about our libraries, about books we were reading, favorite and disliked authors.

Everyone who knew Mark acknowledged his irascible personality, his conviction in his own rightness of how to do everything according to his own exacting standards. Our dad used to say, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” Mark lived by that motto, quoted it regularly, and held others to task when they regularly failed to live up to it. But sharing our love of books became a topic that avoided disagreements and gave us long, engaging conversations. They always ended with “I love you.” I am glad he knew.

A couple of things. Mark had planned carefully. He sent me updated information in letters every so often, where to find the title to his car, his lawyer’s name and phone number, where he left a list of friends to be notified, where he wanted to be buried. Unfortunately, he never gave me a key to his apartment. Everything I needed to find is in there, probably neatly arranged on his desk. But the keys to his apartment and car are now locked up at the Enfield Police Department. I have filled in the required form requesting they be released to me. Then I’ll make another trip to Enfield to get them, to be allowed into his apartment, to see what needs to be done. If he has a will, I don’t know; the lawyer’s copy doesn’t count. The bank couldn’t tell me about his account, even though I have the number. Another probate form filled out. The Post Office won’t forward his mail till probate says it’s OK. They may or may not hold it more than 10 days. I don’t know if he filed his income tax return. I could have gone into the apartment if he had given me my own key.

I have written this as something for all of us to attend to. Nothing is simple or straightforward, and Massachusetts law may be similar or different from Connecticut.

My other bit of advice is to always let the precious people in our lives know we love them. You just never know when or how, but life can change so quickly.

On to other things.

Mike and I were at Cronig’s yesterday. We ran into Ray Gale, who mentioned the toll this winter has taken on wildlife. Deer are numerous. Every variety of duck has appeared in abundance. But there are so many dead or emaciated, barely alive rabbits, small animals, and birds. I know lots of people who have been throwing out birdseed on top of every new snowfall. It will be interesting to see the aftermath of this harsh winter.

One of the things we bought for our supper was a bag of fresh spinach from North Tabor Farm. What a treat. It was delicious and so welcome to eat new greens of the season. I yearn for a greenhouse.

Very shocked and sad to read about the deaths of Andy Boass and Judy Mayhew. My love and condolences to Susie and Danny, their families and friends.

Passover and Easter occur together this weekend. I am reminded that the Last Supper was a Passover Seder. The Hebrew Center will host a community Seder this Saturday evening. It begins at 5:30 sharp, so people are asked to arrive early enough to get settled in their seats. There are still spaces available. Call the office for information and reservations: 508-693-0745.

There will be two services Easter Sunday morning at the West Tisbury Church. A traditional service and communion begins at 9 am at the church. At 11 am, come to the Ag Hall for a Community Easter Service. Child care and church school are provided for children ages 2 to 12. Following the service there will be coffee for grownups and an Easter egg hunt for kids. Call 508-693-2842 for more information.

Marsha Winsryg is teaching a shrine-making workshop at Featherstone next weekend, April 11 and 12. Call 508-693-1850 for information or to preregister.

The West Tisbury Library Foundation is hosting another in their Speakeasy Series at State Road Restaurant on Wednesday, April 8, 5:30 to 7 pm. The guest author is Geraldine Brooks, who will give a sneak preview of her latest novel, The Secret Chord, to be released in September. For reservations, call Carol Brush, 508-693-3489. Tickets are $35.00 and include hors d’oeuvres and light refreshments.

The Islanders Talk Benevolent Fund will sponsor a Kale Soup Throwdown at the P.A. Club on Sunday, April 19. If you have a special kale soup recipe and feel up to a challenge, call Debby Lobb Athearn at 508-693-9627 to enter. There are several categories, even including vegan and gluten-free.

April is National Poetry Month. There will be special events at our library, Pathways Projects Institute, Featherstone Center for the Arts, and Noepe Center for Literary Arts. Brooks Robards will be reading from On Island, our book of poems and paintings, at Pathways at the Chilmark Tavern next Tuesday evening, April 7.

It was nice to walk around our yard and find snowdrops and the earliest lavender crocuses. Sighting grass was brief, then snow-covered by Sunday morning, melted now again. Inside, those forsythia stems remind me that spring will come and, as Leslie Baker said to me yesterday, “That would make a painting.”