A Little More Coleen

So much mail about yesterday's blog post, most of it about Comfort's Top Ten Tips and Coleen Salley -- thanks, y'all. I want to direct you to a wonderful, full obituary (Life Notice, Comfort would call it) in the Times Picayune yesterday.

Coleen often said to me, in that gravelly voice, "Honey, you KNOW I don't read those LONG books. I only read those books with PICTURES -- with three exceptions, and they are WONDERFUL, BEAUTIFUL, SOUTHERN exceptions. I read ALL the long books by YOU, Darlin', and all the long books by Kimberly, and that young girl... that young girl..." and then I'd say, "Kate," and she'd say, "Yes, Kate! I looove her!" Kimberly Willis Holt's remembrance is here. It's beautifully written. I read it and nodded at my own recollections of visiting Coleen... how she squeezed oranges for juice each morning, sent me on my way in the Quarter with a key for returning by lunch with muffalettas from Central Grocery, and the late-night gossip sessions she held court with until we were so tired we couldn't see straight.

A wonderful article about Coleen and her Mardi Gras exploits is here. Some of my remembrances of Coleen start with yesterdays's post and take off here. And there is more, much more, on the Web today.

For those wanting to send regards and condolences, this is from Coleen's daughter, Genevieve:

In lieu of flowers, Coleen wished donations be made to the Autism
Society of Oregon, P.O. Box 396, Marylhurst, OR 97036 or the Cancer
Services of Greater Baton Rouge, 550 Lobdell Ave., Baton Rouge, LA 70806.

In terms of cards, those can be sent to:

The Salley Family
921 Chartres St. #9
New Orleans, LA 70116

The funeral is at 10:30am on Saturday, July 27, from St. Jude's on Rampart St. in the French Quarter. A jazzzzz funeral, the kind of funeral The Queen requested. We will suit up and show up, and we will be enriched, one more time, with Coleen's larger-than-life presence.

I had the wild thought to say next, "We now return you to your regularly scheduled program," but that's not true. There is no regularly scheduled program. Life is what happens when you're making other plans. And, as Uncle Edisto tells us, death and life are inseparable, woven into a common fabric.

Coleen and I were working on an oral history, but mostly we laughed and forgot to turn on the tape recorder, while we roamed the Quarter, supped at Irene's (where the staff knew just how she liked her martinis -- five olives in a separate glass, so as not to dilute the gin), or Galatoires (where she had her own personal waiter), or her own courtyard, where we'd greet the neighbors as they passed in and out of our line of sight.

Often, while yet another story came to its loving or raucous conclusion, Coleen would lean across the table, cock her head to the side and fix me with soft, sincere eyes and say, "You know, Honey, I've lived A WONDERFUL LIFE, A GOOD LIFE. If I die tomorrow, I die a happy woman."

I knew she meant it; those words sustain me.