Ushabti - Garby Leon

Ushabti or Shabti - up to U
I received a note from California the other day.  He (Garby Leon) died of cancer several months ago and a wake of sorts celebrating his life is now scheduled.  If there can be comforting wakes, perhaps this will be it.  These aren't happy occasions but the little touches, the music, favorite words or versus, pictures at the wake, the flood of tears and the realization that there are better places to look forward to.  I've seen most of his places over this past half century plus some and he has been in some particularly nice ones.

I suppose there are several ways of looking at the trappings that come along with passing. Our present day funerals are for the comfort and finality of the living. Long ago funerals were for the preparation of the soul for the afterlife. We've been taught that in our afterlife we will need nothing from earth as all wants and needs will be taken care of. When we bury a favorite pet, we often put a favorite blanket, a can of food, a collar or whatnot in the grave with the thought that it will be needed.  We take nothing.

I'm fairly drawn to the Egyptian tomb idea where a few artifacts accompany me to what will be my next  
stage. I'd prefer to have a few pictures to enjoy, a favorite item or two, some music, a book or two I can re-read endlessly..just a few things.

Mostly, and to the point, I would like to be committed with my choice of music to inflict on the mourners. It might be simple hubris but instead of some sad, melancholic expression, perhaps a good march, something quiet and gorgeous...  by the time I go, instead of an i-Pod and a blue-tooth microphone to broadcast things, we will have virtual movie screens on pass-out glasses (like our 3D theater glasses) and we can all see what I thought was beautiful and necessary.   Then they can go to the wake and celebrate my passing. 

I'll, unfortunately, have to celebrate Garby's life from afar but the motion picture of him and our friendship will play for a while.  He was a musician and a big cheese in the movie studios.  Seems right.   His Ushabti will be vast and meaningful; a bag full of treasures.

This was a piece he learned in high school when we were together a lot.  Damn.


  1. Thank you for "friending" me, Harold House. I like hearing more moments of Garby.

    You replaced your prior posting just as I was posting a response. I thought I saw it there for a second but it just disappeared, and then there was a brand new one from you.

    That photo of the old Washington school: wowsers. (My kindergarten teacher had been my father's kindergarten teacher, and she was old when he was five.) That great old school with the high ceilings and the time-stained halls and rooms looked like a medieval fortress and your posted photo sustained my long-ago impression. Then, later, we left en masse to walk over to the new Jefferson school. No one looked back.

    Later, there was a new Washington school, the best part of which was Douglas Campbell.

    Bartok. What you wrote was very interesting.
    In the summer of '68 my mother and I left New York to drive across country and move to California. Somehow, Garby met up with us in Aspen. There was a Music Festival happening, which is probably why he was there. We went to a concert that night and all I remember of the program is the Bartok piece. I couldn't forget it. It was jagged and jarring and scary and exciting and I can still conjure the intensity of that music.

    And so, Garby is there, wherever that is, and I do hope there is a there there. Since we humans are bound to this three-dimensional existence, perhaps death opens the doors of perception to realms we cannot now perceive. (It is certainly preferable to annihilation, huh.)

    Thank you, again.

    Frances Farley


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