By COLLEEN DEBAISE
Editor, The Hampton Bee
It’s the last unofficial week of summer…and as always, there’s sadness in the air. It feels like we’re saying goodbye, not just to sunshine and sandy beach days, but to carefree times (even if they weren’t really carefree). The Hamptons, like many seasonal communities, comes alive in the warmer months. There’s a buzz and an energy and a light…a lot of golden light. We’ll miss that.
To be sure, soon enough, we’ll be craving warm sweaters, hot drinks and blazing fires in the fireplace. But for right now, we’re saying goodbye — in more ways than one.
The Hampton Bee community recently lost a loyal supporter, Jimmy Thompson (my brother-in-law). Jimmy, as far as I know, had never been to the Hamptons. He lived upstate, in Syracuse, and as long as the Hampton Bee has been around, had been battling a debilitating cancer that made his work (as a security guard) — let alone travel — nearly impossible.
Yet week after week, as I built the Hampton Bee, he was there. Every time I shared a post on Facebook, he was the first person to “like” it. Sometimes he was the only one to like it. He especially liked posts that featured food, and wrote to me enthusiastically after I posted about Backyard Brine pickles. “I just ordered some,” he said. “Hopefully my taste doesn’t go away, but they are canned and I can always have them later, that’s a good thing.” (Fortunately, he later reported that he enjoyed the bread-and-butter variety.)
I have to imagine, as he went through chemo and radiation, and dealt with the pain, the discomfort and the heavy medications, that he had more pressing things to do than be a cheerleader for the Hampton Bee.
But if he did — he didn’t let on, at least not to me. It was typical of his easygoing, optimistic, selfless nature. And up until a few weeks ago, from his hospital bed, he was still liking every post.
If you’ve ever started something from scratch, like I have, it’s difficult to keep going, when you don’t have any fans or followers or customers. It’s hard to create something, not knowing if anyone will see it or try it or experience it. You question yourself. You doubt yourself. You wonder if it’s all a waste.
In the Hampton Bee’s case, I always knew I had a believer. I had Jimmy.
As a family, we’ll be feeling his loss for years to come. (I am most grateful that his three grown beautiful daughters are surrounded by love and support.) But I am selfishly feeling the loss of his loyalty and support, as I continue to try and grow the Bee.
It’s the end of summer. Soon the bounty of fall will be here. Right now, though, I wish I could hold onto that beautiful golden light. It has slipped through the fingers and bounced offshore, to a place we can’t reach.