Remembering Maxine …

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.

3 Comments Leave a Comment

  • Erin says:

    Our condolences to Mary’s family. That scene from “Our Town” is one of my all-time favourites – I have never come across a better expression of the ‘wonderfulness’ of life.

  • Rita Bostic says:

    Mr. Auxier, I am elem school librarian. Our 5th grade teacher is reading your book to her class. I wrote a letter to you recently to Chatham U. where I thought you were teaching a class..the letter was returned today. I had told the two 5th grade classes that I had written to you and they were so excited. I will be telling them this week that my letter came back and that I would try another avenue to contact you. Our school is North Jefferson Elem. 6996 Charles Town Road, Kearneysville, WV 25430 (Eastern Panhandle of WV)..we would love to hear from you..the students love your book and want to know if you are going to write more. Rita Bostic

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