One of the rewards of posting about Leonard Cohen at Cohencentric (and its predecessor, 1HeckOfAGuy.com) was the receipt of unsolicited email from Leonard. While I was certainly grateful that he took the time to respond to my questions about a concert date, his contacts with other musicians, the provenance of a photo, etc, the ultimate treat was a spontaneous email from Leonard.
As it turned out, the last words I received from Leonard Cohen were in one of these spontaneous emails. It arrived a week or two before his death and consisted of only five words plus his signature initial:
I love your mother’s house
My Mother’s House
A word of explanation is necessary. While most of my blogging is accomplished in service of Cohencentric.com, I also maintain a personal blog, AllanShowalter.com, which features — well, everything other than Leonard Cohen. It offers posts, for example, about Julie Showalter and her writing, Neil Ellis photos, A.E. Housman, the Duchess (aka Penny Showalter), broomcorn, my former homes in Oklahoma, northwest Illinois, & the Ozarks, David Mamet quotations … .
Anyhow, I had published a number of posts on AllanShowalter.com under the umbrella title of “DrHGuy’s Family Home Curios & Oddities Photo Safari,” comprising views of the doodads, antiques, gadgets, widgets, junk, tchotchkes, collectibles, curios, odds, ends, and much, much more that lined the walls and in the geological layers of miscellanea that arose from nearly every horizontal surface in my mother’s home in the Ozarks. The photo atop this post displays several specimens.
A representative selection can be found at Living Room Exhibits, and links to all the exhibits are located at Summary Page: DrHGuy’s Family Home Curios & Oddities Photo Safari
Leonard had an extraordinary ability to embrace folks on their own terms. While many have written of engaging with Leonard Cohen over metaphysics, musicology, Judaism, sociological phenomena, Zen Buddhism, poetry. or other, similarly weighty topics. Our conversations, on the other hand, were much more likely to deal with our families, future plans, mutual acquaintances, preferences in exercise programs, tales of his band members and backup singers … A modicum of gossip and a few jokes were also commonplace.
So, at a time when he was severely ill and still in the midst of the coming out of You Want It Darker, his final album, Leonard Cohen was cruising the web. And, he landed not my blog about him but my blog about everything else but him and then took the time to email me to let me know that he liked the posts about my mother’s collectibles.
For the record, my reply was “I’m glad you like it, especially given that ‘the voluptuous feeling of simplicity’ wasn’t mom’s decorating touchstone.”
Now, I believe Leonard sincerely enjoyed those photos of mom’s cabin in the Ozarks. But, I am convinced the reason he sent that email was that he knew I would appreciate knowing that he enjoyed those photos of mom’s cabin in the Ozarks.
Leonard once inscribed a photo,
One of the greatest men alive
And, I still check my email every morning for messages from Leonard.