Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bye Cynthia! Bye!

Cynthia Haydon died on Sunday at the age of 95.
by Charlie Leck

“Sadly,” the comment on one of my blogs said, “Cynthia died yesterday!” Nothing else! That’s all!

The comment made me sit back. I dropped my head and sat there in silence, thinking about all manner of things. All kinds of people are dying on me – people I admired and of whom I thought so awfully highly. So many are dying, as a matter of fact, that I’ve generally given up on going to funerals and memorial services. I’m an emotional guy, and I get so sapped by them that I’m immobilized for days.

Sometimes I have guilt feelings – sorrow that I did not spend more time communicating with the person and trying to visit them. The funerals don’t make me feel any less culpable.

Jesus, when you’re 72 this kind of shit happens. People die on you and it pisses you off. With each year that passes more and more slide out of your life, but you retain them in memories and comfortable thoughts.

So, last Sunday, Cynthia Haydon went and died on me. I wasn’t ready for it. I’ve been talking for months about flying to England – to go out to the Cotswolds – to visit her and to tell her I thought she was really keen and lovely and neat.

I thought so highly of her that I wanted to write her biography. She laughed at me when I told her that.


“Yes,” I said.

“Oh, heavens. It would be boring, and the only interesting parts of it would be those things I don’t want people to know!”

She laughed heartily, throwing her head back. She laughed so hard that she began coughing and she felt a pain in her chest that she didn’t like.

We were in Toronto – at the distinguished Toronto Club. We had a few moments alone. Others were to arrive soon. She had lots of age written all over her, but I could look at her and see the young woman she once was. I was attracted. She had a pair of glistening, smiling eyes. Oh my, she was beautiful.

Most of the world would disagree with me. Cynthia was rough looking. Hours and hours of working horses in the chilled Cotswold climate had chapped her skin. There were blotches of red here and there on her face. Years and years of handling the ribbons (reins) had brought on intense arthritis that settled in her hands and fingers. She was ever rubbing them – massaging at the twinges. The pain had settled in one of her hips, too, and her gait wasn’t attractive. One entire side of her lower body seemed made of concrete. She just, sort of, dragged it along with her.

Lord, I couldn’t see all that. I could only see her glistening eyes and her broad, magnificent smile.

“A legend,” my wife had called her, “an absolute legend.”

She’s been named to the British Horse Society’s Hall of Fame. She was dear friends with the Queen’s mother. She was a constant friend to the nation’s horses. There are thousands of stories, dwelling in the memories of the hundreds of people who grew to know her, that I suspect are extraordinary. I wish I could extract them from people and put them together in a worthy biography. Someone certainly should.

Bye, bye Cynthia. I really thought you were neat. I wish we could have had one last martini together, sitting before a roaring fire on a chilly Cotswold evening.

“Jesus, girl, I thought you were great!”

I wrote about Cynthia Haydon in a blog last year.
You can click here to read it!

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