JAMES BRIDWELL IGLEHEART

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bear

seriously folks, look at the man’s shoes.

this was my grandfather. a man who, though well known for his philanthropic work in education, civil rights and prisoner rehabilitation, did most of his charitable giving anonymously. a man with daring sartorial tastes, who loved to greet people at the door in zebra print hammer pants or, with a wink, give them a flash of the hot pink lining in his impeccably tailored suit from the first pew on sunday morning. this man, known to his family as “bear” or “moose”, brought me along on his and my grandmother’s 50th anniversary trip to italy. he bought me my first bellini at age 15 on the porch of the gritti palace over looking the grand canal. and what a bellini. when my mother fought to pull a comb through toddler lindsay’s thick and unruly curls, bear used to sit beside me and scream “ow!” loudly so that i wouldn’t have to. as early as age 4 and as recently as this past may, he and manu (diane foster igleheart) let me snuggle between them in their big bed at blackberry hollow for breakfast on their amazing bed trays, set with linen placemats, china, silver and crystal, a delightful ritual from a bygone era. bear skinny dipped in his lake. he cried while giving toasts. he hid easy cheez in his desk drawer and ordered every whirring talking catalog gadget under the sun. he had selective hearing. and a collection of lewd belt buckles. the man would add salt to a salt lick if manu would let him. once, in response to her admonishment that he’d had enough wine, he replied: “ok, dear,” and poured himself a scotch. he also tried to use his gold monogrammed money clip as identification at blockbuster, and, when told he would need a photo id, replied with a snort: “why? who else would have a money clip with my initials on it?” he loved my grandmother tenderly and with all his heart. he lived an amazing life and, once even a tantalizing bite of homemade strawberry shortcake ceased to pique his interest, was ready to go. near the end, with barely enough energy to raise his fork to his mouth, he looked at me over lunch asked in a serious tone: “lindsay, do you know what moth balls are?” “um, sure.
yes. i do.” “well, have you ever smelled them?” “yeah, I guess so.” (he, chuckled a little bit before asking:) “really? how did you get your nose
between his little legs?”

bear had a relatively long but thankfully not overly painful battle with lung cancer and died in his bed, surrounded by family, on sunday afternoon. even though i understand and accept that it was his time, and that he lived a truly magnificent and full life, there is a sizable and palpable sense of loss. a sense of loss to match the greatness of this man, that pools in the spaces left behind.

• • • •
listening to: the mountain goats: “love, love, love”, iron and wine: “naked as we come”, cat power: “cross bones style”


One Response to “JAMES BRIDWELL IGLEHEART”

  1. 1 Whitney 

    that is the sweetest most sincere tribute I’ve ever read. He was as lucky to have you as a granddaughter as you were to have him. xx

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