After Herb passed away, I began to write a letter to Lorna. It wasn’t yet finished when I heard of her death. This is how I had begun it:
To you and Frances I send my condolences for the loss of Herb. I have so many memories of Herb, and many of them are also memories of you. Although I didn’t observe your relationship often, it was clear that your lives were deeply intertwined. It was hard to think of Herb without thinking of you, especially when I visited Pepperell, or when I thought of Herb working at his home laboratory from Wednesdays through Sundays. I imagine the little tortoise walking around between his feet. The two of you, your house, the land and animals and food that you nurtured, gave to me a way to think about how to build a life and a better world.
That last sentence is very much how I thought of Lorna. Understated, with bright eyes holding a mischievous wit, full of the colours and textures of nature. She built not by cutting and imposing our straight lines, but by nurturing — plants, fabrics, and the pot of rich food on her stove. Oh, the multifarious Thanksgiving meals she put on for the “orphaned” graduate students in Herb’s lab!
She was a partner in the background of much of Herb’s contributions as a spider taxonomist, supporting him in more than one way. There’s a story — I hope I have this right — of her helping Herb to get over the fence at some foreign museum unexpectedly closed, so that he could get in and look at important specimens. That is the image I am left with, Lorna being a tiny bit subversive and doing what needed to be done.