This is Sara’s plant. I got it from her grandson after Sara was buried. It wasn’t that long ago.
When we left the Museum, Sara wanted to show me her camera. So, out of her fancy, dancy handbag, comes a silver Leica M-4 with a silver 50mm 1.4 Summilux. The dang thing won’t wind the film anymore. Don, can you look at it? Sara, is there exposed film inside? No, it just keeps winding and winding. I smiled and said I could explain how to make it work. She raises her arm and in a minute the Limo arrives. The driver gets out and opens the door and guides Sara into the car. He smiles at me and moves his hand as if to guide me in also.
Sara… Jack, we will go home and take Don with us and after dinner, you will drive him to his home. Yes, Sara. Jack, please stop at the grocery store. Patty asked me to get fresh Salmon and fresh dill. So we get to Elkins Park and stop at the grocery store. A young guy comes out with a shopping bag and hands it to Jack. Off we go to Sara’s home.
We get to Sara’s home and walk up the 4 steps to the door. A tall woman smiles, Hi Ms. Sara and grabs Jack and hugs and kisses him.(I’m wondering where my hug and kiss is, sheesh) Sara introduces Patty to me, as Jack’s wife. Then we all sit to the dinner table and start having dinner.
Sara … Don, 35 years ago a young man came to me at the museum and told me he was going to be my personal driver. A few months later Jack told me his wife Patty was my personal attendant. We have been family ever since. Jack is chomping away on the Salmon covered with Dill and Lemon Butter. Patty smiles at me and says, how is the Salmon Don? See the front door, Don? Yes, smiling. The other side of the door is the world Jack manages. This side of the door, I manage. I really wanted to ask what role Sara had but I knew better.
After dinner, Sara takes me to the room where all her cameras are living. Some, actually are very familiar to me. Hmmmmm? She hands me some Leica’s and I take the body cap off and breathe the insides of the cameras. I notice on the serial numbers of a few cameras, the letters, letters G*. I asked her about that and she replied, George * was my husband’s attorney. She asked me if I still had the 2 cameras George gave me back in the ’70s. How on earth do you know about that? She said it’s in the ledger. She goes to a cabinet and pulls out a ledger with all the cameras her husband and George had,. My name is in it with the 2 cameras George gave me decades ago.
We sit at a small oval table and Patty brings us a cup of tea. Patty squeezes a slice of lemon in each cup. I never saw such a seductive squeeze. The way she twisted her fingers, no wonder Jack is always smiling. HA! Sara hands me an M3 & an M4. Both are nicer than mint. Don, for the life of me, I can’t get the film to act properly. So, I asked her to load the cameras as I watched. Sputs the spool in the M4 and it doesn’t catch. So I showed her to bend the end of the film so that there is a crease. She does as I explained and yup, uh huh, the film loads perfectly. Many times the film will slip out of the take-up spool because it slips out. Happens to the best of us.
Then she hands the M3 to me. I showed her that basically, the film end should do the same, a crease. The take-up spool has a grip on the spool and it also may slip the film. So she does the way I explain and perfect again.
Patty comes into the room and says, Sara, time for your meds and bath. Ok sweetheart. Sara tells Jack to take me home. I walk to the front door and all 3 stand and wish me a good life,. Sara turns and goes upstairs, Patty says, Sara has fond memories of you and your shared friends. Jack says, this way sir.
A few years passed and I never heard or saw them again. Sara passed away 4 months ago and 3 weeks ago, I got a package from Patty and Jack. It had the ledger, many photos, and a long 5-page handwritten letter in Sara’s handwriting. It explained how many of the people in my life who were mentors, friends, etc, were connected to Sara and her husband. It all started with Ding McNulty, Sara’s very special friend.
It really is a small world, but I wouldn’t want to paint it.
Oh, the plant in the photo is Sara’s essence, minus her incredible legs….