Rosemary, that’s for Remembrance; In Memory of my Friend, Rosemary Rovick
Smile a little smile for me,
Rosemary, Rosemary . . .
Adapted from the song by The Flying Machine
Two weeks ago, I lost one of the closest friends I ever had, my beautiful Rosemary. Rosemary Rovick was born in Northern California and lived their most of her life, though she graduated from
and traveled widely. If angels walk the
earth, then she was one of them. We met
when we were both externs at Santa Clara County Superior Court. For nearly 30 years, we have kept in touch,
traded confidences, comforted each other’s sorrows, teased each other, and
supported each other. Cornell Law School
Rosemary was one of the purest, kindest people I’d ever met. She was compassionate yet witty, and she could laugh at herself. We teased each other, even while we suffered through incompetent supervisors, arrogant judges, snotty court personnel, earthquakes, and heart aches. She would leave me notes on my desk that read something like, “Go and get me a truffle and a cup coffee from next door. There’s a dear!” And I would leave her notes calling her “Miss Toolbelt,” which was a reference to her love of travelling the world to build playgrounds with a construction company. I also teased her about being so good all the time, and she would say, “What is it you call me that I like so much, you know . . “ I would answer, “Sanctimonious and self-righteous?” “Yes,” she would exclaim, laughing gleefully, “That’s it!”
But, she was tough and Uber-fair in her own way. “Come on, Ellen; be a man,” she would say, when things became intolerable at The Court and I would rage. When I was being bullied by one of the judges and a supervisor, she alone of everyone interceded for me. When I was ready to give up, I could drive to her house, sometimes driving at 1 am through the
hills on Highways 17 and 101, and she would be up making sour dough toast and
coffee. Santa Cruz
She called me when I came home to “
Central America” as she called it, and often,
because she said I made her laugh. Rosemary
loved hiking in Yosemite, and I used to say
she and I were going to The Home together, and that she should look for a nice
one in the national park. She was selfless to a fault, and I think that may be
what caused her untimely death. She
opened her home to Polish refugees, roommates with no where else to go, her
relatives, her friends, anyone in need. I stayed there sometimes, and had sleepovers
with her friends Shauna and Edie. Edie
worked for The Catholic Charities in Thailand
in a camp owned by the Khmer Rouge at one point. The three of them wanted me to go with Edie to
teach there, and I was game, until I overheard that night, as I lay innocently
in my sleeping bag, who owned the camp. Cambodia
“Rosemary!” I shrieked the next morning, “Where are you sending me? Do you want me get me killed?” But, I was laughing as hard as she was. We joked about applying for a job for research attorneys in
. We even had our work outfits planned, grass
skirts, brief cases, oxford shirts and tweed jackets. We walked on the beach near her house, and I
was honored that she liked the ceramics I painted. At one point, I did a black cat of her own
kitty, Lucy, who was a wild child through and through. I was honored and flattered that Rosemary
wanted me to make it for her. We used to walk everyday in Micronesia , too, sometimes stopping for lunch
at Sizzler, or our favorite Japanese/Ethiopian restaurant. We walked through San Jose ,
too, and she was scandalized one day that I took my jacket off to reveal a strapless
dress. “Put that back on! You’re naked under that!” “Rosemary,” I said, we’re all naked under our
clothes! Japan Town
Yet, she wasn’t a prude. She had a quick wit and a wicked sense of humor, too. The walls of one of our offices were paper thin, and the partner of a neighboring law firm talked fast and loud all day. We could hardly think, let alone write bench memos. “Watch this,” she said. “I’ll make him shut-up.” She then loudly asked me, “What’s your favorite fantasy?” It got very, very quiet on the other side of the wall.
We saw Angry Housewives together, and laughed all night. She liked giving presents and “shopping local”, and going to the farmers market and the flea market. We both loved mysteries.
Rosemary was a Renaissance woman, who ran a marathon, played tennis at almost a pro level, scuba dived, gardened, travelled, read widely, and loved to eat out. We both had a thing for Carlos Fuentes and the film with Gregory Peck, The Old Gringo. We also talked about trips we wanted to take, including a Sizzler tour of the world. She collected Christmas ornaments, little bears, and tiny pieces of pottery. She also liked to restore good furniture, and had a Morris chair that she was very proud of. She and I sent each other man things, including Flamingoes. My last Christmas present to her was a purse with a flamingo on it. She was fond of saying the vintage flamingo in her yard had a skin disease because its paint was flaking. In the late 80s, she negotiated to buy a light blue Honda Civic, using the blue book and getting an amazing price all on her own. No man, in fact, no one, had to help her. Now, she is with her parents, her beloved dog that was half coyote, and her cat Lucy.
She lived a full, but short life. Much too short. Sometimes I want to call her number, just to see if her voice is on the answering machine, still. She took care of a friend who suffered a stroke on one of their bicycling trips, her parents, Edie when she was dying, and Edie’s parents. Even when she was so sick, she worried about me. When she learned that I, too, was dealing with family elder care issues and catastrophes at work and everywhere else, she fretted that she wasn’t able to come to me. “I should be there taking care of you” was in one of the last emails she ever sent me. I don’t think she lasted two years after she first got sick, but she never let on how bad it was. She fought and fought, and she never gave up. It was as if she didn’t believe bad things could happen.
She died on a Sunday; early on that Sunday morning, before I know, I had a terrible nightmare that she had died. My husband woke me up, and said I was crying out and whimpering. Well, at least on the inside, I still am. Rest in peace, my beautiful, tall, blonde Rosemary. The hard part is trying to go on with out you.