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Garden of hope is a frank, endeering memoir of two star-struck lovers who travel the world and Jim Crow America as a black-white couple in the 1960's.
The true story of a romantic international, inter-racial marriage that covered four continents, produced a wonderful son, lasted ten years during the dynamic sixties and ended in divorce.
This is a first, a love story written by a divorced couple who happen to be from different nations, different races, different religions linked together through the years by their common love for their son.
Lennox was a handsome young Journalist from Trinidad, eager to write novels. Maryanne was an attractive young American woman fresh from Paris where she had attended the Sorbonne. They met on the library steps in Kingston Jamaica, agreed that neither believed in marriage and one month later they were married in Tampico, Mexico.
They traveled through the south on a Greyhound Bus, only a few months before the Freedom Rides began. Although their friends and loved ones worried about their safety, they had complete faith in their ability to survive on Love.
Without enough money for two airplane tickets to Brazil, they spent a year traveling from New York City to Rio, spending time in each country along the way. They would find people who looked clean and poor and ask for suggestions for an inexpensive place to stay.
After traveling and writing in fifty countries, Lennox and Maryanne settled in Rio de Janeiro where they became well-known as painters and lived happily ever after until Maryanne had a nervous breakdown and landed in a mental hospital.
They were in New York City during the Hot Sixties Summers where they read their poetry at the Metro, St. James in the Bowery and Rutgers College. They acted in several plays and happenings, worked with Umbra Poets and the Bridge magazine.
In December 1968, two days after Christmas Son Raphael joined them. The book ends here at the moment of greatest happiness
Perhaps the first wish I ever had was to see my parents together.
This work allows just that.
To see them together and in love, and to giggle with their naïveté and boldness, and to listen in as they speak about their private pains is a great gift to me.
I certainly can’t be sure of its value to others, but it is of deep personal significance to me.
It feels as if I have stumbled across a dusty photo of my parents giggling together on a picnic.
This then is the story of two young lovers who happen to be Maryanne and Lennox to me today.
This is also the story of two people neither created nor destroyed by our peculiar approaches to race, although it would be silly to say that race, and racism, are incidental to this story.
Society demanded this ugly face be given some honor.
The story gives a glimpse into the peculiar America that presented itself to an interracial couple in the sixties.
At times in this story, especially – from first meeting in Kingston, Jamaica, to Mexico, the United States, Brazil, and all the countries in between – when the two, despite warnings, travel together on a bus through the American South of those days, they seem to refuse to believe this naughty demon can have any impact on their lives.
They seem blessed by a naive belief in the safety of the world and some precious romantic notions about the power of love acting as a magical cocoon protecting its children from intolerance and softening their every step on the jagged earth of a sixties America and the world out there.
This journal paints too a story of these two impetuous dreamers certain of a world eagerly awaiting the warmth of their every step.
And for a time the magic seemed always to work like a charm.
Then the children fall.
The beast that seems to fatally wound our heroes comes from within: mental illness.
After a period of fame as painters in Brazil, a marijuana experience induces a psychotic episode in Maryanne, changing their relationship, as it would for anyone: and they would seem forever exiled from their private paradise.
This journal ends though on a happy note, the birth of a child: me.
Happiness was everything.
And they would stay married for three more years, finally divorcing in the seventies.
Lennox would remarry three times.
He lives in Copenhagen with his wife, Helga Gimbel, a physician, and their nine year old daughter, Papaya, and continues to write and paint while being active in the cultural life of Denmark.
Maryanne is a prolific freelance writer living in Carlsbad, California, when not traveling the world or meeting Mother Teresa and becoming a co-worker and spending quality time in her orphanages and soup kitchens in New York City, California and South Africa.
And, despite their experiences, Maryanne and Lennox seem to emerge relatively unscathed. They never allowed the MONSTER to gobble up their future.
I am glad.
As you know, there is perhaps no greater enigma to a child than the mysterious life of one's parents before one's birth.
Anyone would find precious a story giving some glimpses into this mystery.
For one who never saw his parents together, it is doubly valuable.
What greater gift than to find a forgotten snapshot of your parents in love; and to see them too as they are today, still optimistic, exceptional, and bubbling with creative enthusiasm.
With great pleasure, I share this picture with you.