My friend Phyllee and her daughter Bonnie (who is 24) made a StoryCorps recording in August 2011 of themselves remembering Phyllee’s husband and Bonnie’s dad, Edwin Lockhart. The recorded conversation was aired on KZYX radio yesterday evening. Listening to Phyllee and Bonnie talk about Edwin brought him, and those times we spent together in the year before he died, back to me vividly. Unfortunately for me and Ron, we didn’t become good friends with Edwin and Phyllee until the last year of Edwin’s life, so we missed out on all the years before that during which we could have enjoyed his company. Edwin was a Native Pomo, part Hopland Band Pomo and part Pinoleville, I believe, if I remember correctly. He was known in our community because every month, at the full moon, he made a bonfire at his home on the Pinoleville Reservation and people came to share the warmth of his fire from near and far. He called it the Full Moon Burn.
My boys were friends with Edwin and Phyllee’s girls. Bonnie and Akili were the same age and grew up together as did Sequoia and our Sudi, who were also the same age as each other. When Edwin died suddenly of a heart attack in August of 2003, our families became extremely close, with the children spending a great deal of time together in what could only be described as a sibling sort of relationship. In their StoryCorps conversation, Phyllee and Bonnie talked about working through their grief in those first months and years after Edwin passed over and how they have reconciled themselves with their loss and remade their lives. It was clear from everything they said that Edwin is, and has been, very much with them in these years since he died. I know he has been with me.
At the time that Edwin passed over, I was working on The Call to Shakabaz. I had abandoned writing an adult novel called Penelope’s Odyssey in 2001. I had begun Penelope shortly before 911 and couldn’t get back into it after the Twin Towers fell. Once I completed The Call to Shakabaz, Edwin sort of took over Penelope and became my spirit guide as I returned to it and continued writing. I completed Penelope in 2009 (still looking for a publisher for it). I think Edwin is continues to hover in my energy field. Last year I was asked, out of the blue, to write a grant for the Hopland Band of Pomo to expand their tribal court so that it could hear domestic violence, child dependency, juvenile delinquency, and nonviolent drug/alcohol offense cases. We got the grant. I want to note here that Edwin worked as a facilitator in the Victim/Offender Restitution Program. The court being established at the Hopland Rez with the funds I got them (called the Family Wellness Court) is based on restitution and healing. It would have delighted Edwin. Right now I am working for the Hopland Pomo again to write a grant to allow them to assist three other area tribes in setting up their own tribal courts. Go Edwin!
I learned so much more about Edwin as I listened to Phyllee and Bonnie talk yesterday on the radio. One of the things that Phyllee said that resonated with me is that she loved the way Edwin recognized and modeled the importance of spending time with others for no purpose other than just hanging out; and that he would drop in on people spontaneously and people he knew would do the same at their house. Phyllee said, “It’s unheard of for someone to turn up at someone else’s house unannounced these days.” So true. With our high tech rapid communication systems we have lost the value and the skill of spontaneous visitation and hospitality.
Had Edwin lived, I am not sure that I would have ever grown so close to Phyllee, Bonnie, and Sequoia. I sometimes think of the relationship that our families have, the friendship of our children, the friendship I have with Phyllee (who I think of as a sister), and the love our families have for each other, is a gift that Edwin gave to us. After we moved beyond the grief, and even as we were moving through it, and even as we still feel it, we have laughed and danced and share food and watched the flames of many a fire together with spontaneity, joy, and delight. Edwin would have SO approved.
Here is a photo of me, Phyllee, and Bonnie at Bonnie's graduation from CSUMB in May 2011.