carol hall

The Best Little Memorial in New York

This was hardly a “little memorial,” but I was playing on the title “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” the show whose lyrics and music were written by Carol Hall, who died on October 11, 2018. She was instrumental in creating her own memorial service by writing terrific songs, which were performed by singers and musicians at The Times Center on September 23. The evening began by us hearing Carol singing “The Love That Brings it Through.” That was followed by her husband, Leonard Majzlin, speaking from the heart. His is huge, as is his brain, so it’s not surprising that the event was pitch perfect.

Upon entering, each of us received a bright red book with Carol’s signature on the cover, alerting me that care and creativity had gone into the preparation. I don’t want to be accused of overestimating the crowd size, so will just say the number and quality of the people eager to celebrate Carol’s life was a testimony to her and Len. I rushed to open the book, reading lyrics Carol had written, looking at pictures of album covers. Photos of her favorite restaurants and many friends along with her fried chicken recipe made me smile. In addition to the other professional performers, her son, daughter and niece each did what Carol might have expected and surely wanted. The last song, again sung by Carol, was “My Circle of Friends,” giving the sense that Carol was with us.

Susannah, her daughter, shared a poem she’d unexpectedly come across the day her mother died. It was hand-written by Carol on a folded-up piece of paper, clearly a message she wanted to leave behind that began: “When I am dead, even then I will still love you.” It gave us a chance to appreciate that she is dead and we still love her. The program ended with Len making a distinction between receiving and taking, pointing out that receiving, like giving, is generous, enabling someone who wants to give to do so.

Wrapped in emotions and wisdom, we moved on to the reception room. The noshes included pigs in blankets, which are usually the highlight for me of any cocktail hour. They were as delicious as ever, but nothing topped the experience of a memorial to die for.