Carolyn was one of the people who made everyone she knew try harder, think more, say less and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us all every day.
While she was as strong a person as anyone any of us ever knew, she still remained so sensitive, often fragile and always loving.
And she shared that love and energy with everybody.
She was the embodiment of the old New Orleans saying “The first to leave the battlefield and the last to leave the party.”
Years ago, at 5 a.m. we were all still up greeting the dawn, and Carolyn was the life of the party, sharing her endless stories of the great times that never made it into Jack’s books, but which were equally priceless in our respective books of life.
When she paused to light another cigarette and I poured her another glass of white wine I said “Carolyn, don’t you think it’s getting kind of late. Or early? Why don’t you call it a night?”
“Look who’s talking,” she responded.
“You don’t ever sleep. I can’t leave now. I might MISS something”
While all of us will miss her every day, I don’t think that there is much that Carolyn did miss during her amazing life. She did everything with grace and gusto, and while she didn’t tolerate rudeness or abusive behavior, she always found time to lend a helping hand , a smile and a word of encouragement to anyone whom she saw needed it.
My own children loved her because she immediately adopted them at the same time that they adopted her.
In addition to her achievements as a visual artist, which was her first love, she was a fantastic writer and her book remains a classic and sets the standard for all future writings about Jack and Neal.
She never allowed herself or her feelings about Jack, Neal or any of us to be tainted by the corporate merchandizing version of what “Beat” was supposed to be about, as a definition of a select group of Neanderthal untalented infantile whining morons.
She spent years patiently answering 1000s of questions from anyone who approached her, as well as letters, e-mails and interviews, recalling her own experiences during a very special Era where the seeds were sown for today’s higher level of artistic expression and appreciation, all a result of the inspiration from the work done by Jack, Neal, herself and so many others in literature, music, the theater, film and dance a half century ago.
She knew about it because she was there and part of it all, and proud to have made her own contributions to our collective efforts to try to bring some light, compassion respect for one another and appreciation of the creativity that we are all blessed to share.
Like Jack, Carolyn always referred to Beat as the state of being BEATIFIC!
And like Jack and Neal, you didn’t need a press kit, a career councilor, a lawyer or a special inside person to speak to her.
She was 100% for real and open to all.
That’s why I always called her Lady Caroline, because she was a true aristocrat.
Her three children and their children and the thousands of people whose lives she touched will always stay in touch with her. And we must stay in touch with them.
To paraphrase her favorite jazz poet, Shakespeare, when she told me how she, Neal and Jack would read Hamlet aloud in the kitchen, Horatio would have said today “Goodnight, sweet Lady Caroline. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest”
Sept 23, 2013