My wife’s grandmother, Maxine Burke Markam, passed away this weekend. Today is her funeral. She was smart, beautiful, tough, and the meanest canasta player I have ever seen. Here’s a picture of us cutting a rug at Mary’s and my wedding five years ago:
Death is never a terribly fun thing, but without it, I’m not sure life would seem quite so wonderful. All last week, I couldn’t help but remember two scenes from different plays. The first is Thorton Wilder’s Our Town in which Emily has passed away in childbirth, but has been given one last to look at her old life before disappearing to her grave:
EMILY: It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. [...] I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed. Take me back — up the hill — to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look. Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by Grover’s Corners. … Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking … and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths … and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.
The second is Vladmir’s speech near the end of Waiting for Godot:
VLADMIR: Astride of a grave and a difficult birth. Down in the hole, lingeringly, the grave digger puts on the forceps. We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries.
I would like to think that the gravedigger also enjoys coffee and new-ironed dresses.