Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My dear Georgia, how do I say good by?

Georgia Brooks, in her work suit, Mabel Hampton and Arisa Reed at an LHA event, 1980s

The word came to me: "Georgia passed this morning." For morning after morning, I heard your voice. You said, I have endured so much but I know I have to endure more. You told me about your father and growing up in Georgia, how you worked with him to lay the food market's floor and I heard the love for him in your voice through all the miles between us. Never had we been so close as in your final months--the word final sticks in my throat. The triangle of love between Paula, you and me--Let's talk memories, you said and we did. The Black Lesbian Studies Group you ran in the dining room of 13A, way back in the 1970s,  the LHA slide show trip you, me and Deb took to Boston, the coldness of the night, and how we walked the streets trying to find some warm food, and laughed and laughed. Off Broadway should dim its lights tonight, for the love you had for the wonder that was the theater, sometimes lugging your oxygen tank from Hoboken to Broadway. We spoke of old lesbians friends, you listened while I read Ms Hampton's words to you of her North Carolina childhood and I promised you I would read Cheryl Clarke's new speech to you. We laughed with delight at De Blasio's win and spoke of our memories of the Combahee River Collective, with Chirlane in the midst of it. Look at her now. Every morning for so long as the nurses turned you, as your friends brought you bologna sandwiches, your favorite, as you kept trying to take responsibility for your own care, always thanking those who touched you with care but firm in your needs, your knowledge of the body you had managed for so long, the telephone putting me at your bedside and you in our dining room. I would tell you of Melbourne weather, of the parakeets in the gum trees, trying to give you moments of relief, of flying out of the room that held you. You are loved by so many, dear Georgia for all you were, for the caring you gave others even when your body did not know itself anymore, I am grateful you would say, it's a journey, you would say, exactly you would say when we took the same breath. Now I know the full weight of living so far away from where our lives met. How I would like to be with Paula, Deb. Morgan, talking of your dignity and strength of purpose, of your love for the archives, your second home, you said. I love you very much, you told all those who some how managed to be there with you, with your final moments of strength you loved.


  1. Thank you for this lovely, lovely post. Georgia told me recently about getting unlimited calls to Australia on her cell phone so she could talk to you every night (morning there). Her "I love you very much" still echoes in my ears, too. Thank you.

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  3. Thank you for writing this Joan. I will have it near her protrait, (taken by Tiona McClodden) at tomorrow's Lesbian Herstory Archives Art benefit.

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