24 June 2009

I saw three deer

...at my campsite on San Juan today. Three blacktails: a doe and two fauns. The doe slinked out of the brush near where I was dripping coffee for breakfast. She looked at me with caution-- not as if she were afraid of me hurting her, but as if she didn't want to startle me, wake me up, disturb my breakfast.

I squatted and turned my head, making myself look small and unthreatening. She crept out of the brush, two spotted fawns scampering with excitement next to her.

It's the kind of thing I would have called my father to tell him about last summer-- and I almost tried to today. I had pulled his number up on my cell phone before my bleary, early-morning brain remembered.

It made me think of this poem by Donald Hall:

White Apples
when my father had been dead a week
I woke
with his voice in my ear
I sat up in bed
and held my breath
and stared at the pale closed door

white apples and the taste of stone

if he called again
I would put on my coat and galoshes

Tomorrow I leave on the first of six sea kayaking trips over the next couple of months. The trips are shorter this year, to my dismay, but should be fun all the same...

01 June 2009

Richmond Minor Eustis, Nov. 24, 1945- May 30 2009

This runs Tuesday and Wednesday in the Times-Pic. It was the most difficult thing I've had to write-- for many reasons.

I don't feel capable of writing much more about this right now. There is, of course, much more to say, but somehow it feels trivial to write about it in this medium. I may write more about my father's death later, but I doubt it will be here.

I am resigning myself to missing this man every day for the rest of my life.

Richmond Minor Eustis, a lawyer, died Saturday in his home in New Orleans after surviving cancer for nearly two years. He was 63.

The son of David Eustis and Molly Minor Eustis, Richmond Eustis was born in New Orleans and graduated from Isidore Newman School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia, where he was a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, and he earned a JD from Tulane University Law School.

An expert in corporate and admiralty litigation, Eustis began practice at Phelps, Dunbar, then joined Monroe & Lemann, where he became a partner. He later founded the firm Eustis, O’Keefe & Gleason, where he practiced until shortly before his death. He was a member of the Maritime Institute and the Louisiana Bar Association, and was admitted to federal practice before the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.

His survivors include his wife of 38 years, Catherine BaƱos Eustis; two daughters, Julie Eustis Vaicius of New Orleans and Molly Minor Eustis of New York City; two sons, Richmond Minor Eustis, Jr. of Baton Rouge and Joshua Leeds Eustis of Chicago, IL; his brother David Leeds Eustis of New Orleans; his sister, Kate Eustis of Birmingham, AL; son-in-law, Christian Vaicius; two grandchildren, Lucy and James Vaicius, and more than a score of adoring nieces and nephews. His family and friends were gathered around him as he died.

Eustis served on the board of the Children’s Bureau and the New Orleans Board of Trade, and was an advisor to family-owned White Plantation. He was a member of the Inns of Court, the Sons of the Revolution, the Louisiana Club, and the Boston Club.

In addition to his legal work and his board work, Eustis enjoyed working outside in his yard or around his Lafourche Parish house. Blessed with what he liked to call “a trivial mind,” he was fond of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, of punning humor, and of the dogs who flocked to him.

He also was one of a handful of people expert in the history, repair and maintenance of traditional Carnival flambeaux.

A funeral service will take place Friday at noon at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1329 Jackson Ave., in New Orleans—the church where as a boy Eustis served as acolyte. Burial will follow at Metairie Cemetery. Visitation will begin at 11 in the church.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to one of the following groups: the Trinity Episcopal Church Medical Mission, 1329 Jackson Ave. 70130, the Kellermann Foundation/Bwindi Community Health Center—Uganda, P.O. Box 1901 Penn Valley, CA 95946, or the Delta Chapter of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity at the University of Virginia, P.O. Box 400314, Charlottesville, VA 22904.