The last few years of my life have been plagued by the death of friends and relatives with whom I conversed. Increasingly I feel isolated in a cold city of cyan or gray skies and I find myself looking back at faces of people gone.
The story of the fish (a sentient one) that is approached by a scuba diver who tells him, “You, fish, are surrounded by a colourless substance that wets that is called water,” is well known. Perhaps as well known as the fish’s answer, “You are full of shi..”
I am that almost sentient fish now living a wonderful awakening to the fact that water exists. She is called Rosemary.
My suspicions were aroused when we drove to Seattle in early January to see the Andrew Wyeth Retrospective at the Seattle Art Museum. Rosemary had a smile on her face as she took in the show. It was pleasant day’s trip.
Without too much pressure I was able to convince Rosemary that we should go to New York City later in January to see the special Michelangelo exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
We arrived at 10:30 and left at 5. I was exhausted but Rosemary was ready for more even though we had also seen the Rodin and the David Hockney exhibits. I asked Rosemary if she were interested in the section of the museum that had medieval armour. I could not believe how she enjoyed and then took countless iPhone photos of the horse armour.
My suspicions and a glimpse of something I had not known about Rosemary were there in plain sight. Then she loved the Frick and smiled inside MOMA.
But it was finally this Sunday when Rosemary and I went to see Spielberg’s The Post at the 5th Avenue Cinema that it all hit home with a thud in my head.
Rosemary was as interested as I was in all the goings on that led to the release of the Pentagon Papers. But then both of us read our daily NY Times hard copy and watch Rachell Maddow faithfully.
It was my Rosemary who had the idea that we should leave Mexico City in 1975. It was Rosemary who forced us to buy a corner lot home in Kerrisdale in 1986. We were paying a monthly mortgage of $3600 then. Now that decision of hers has us comfortably living in our Kits duplex with money in the bank. We are able to inherit our daughters while we are still alive.
For years, with little protest Rosemary financed my many photographic exhibitions. Once in a while she would show me the framing expenses or might have pointed out that nobody had bought anything.
In silence she has suffered all these years of my bringing young women to pose in my studio undraped.
And I could go on. I could mention that Rosemary is the one with the financial savvy in our family. With little prodding on her part she brought me on board her interest in plants and gardening. Gardening has been one more activity that we have shared. In fact for some years Western Living paid me good wages to write a gardening column. Who would have known? Who would have suspected that my interest in roses would lead to the Canadian Postal Service to issue rose stamps of roses that I had photographed?
Even when money was tight Rosemary played with numbers and had us going to Argentina, Uruguay, Washington DC, Mexico and Europe with our daughters or our granddaughter Rebecca in tow.
Rosemary, my Rosemary, our two daughters and I lived our first years of marriage in Mexico City with my mother. How did wife and mother-in-law deal with each other? They got along splendidly and never had any differences. When we could not pay the rent one month my mother sold her piano. It broke our heart.
Somehow all the above rushed to my head when I opened our 50thwedding anniversary gift from Bruce and Hilary (our youngest daughter) Stewart. It is a lovely wooden memento box with a metal plaque that reads:
Alex & Rosemary
Rosemary has always been there. I might not have noticed before. But she is a companion I can talk to, share ideas and face a comforting and exciting future knowing that she will always be there..
For both of us.
While we were watching The Post I found the actor who played Robert McNamara familiar. I had photographed Bruce Greenwood many years ago in Whistler!
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.