Becoming Ringbearers

As the center spotlight dims and speech becomes measured and slow, the main characters in a production may pause on the side before leaving the scene entirely. The audience strains to attend to those last motions and words, because they can illumine in the fading light all that has happened.

That’s how I think of our parents’ final years. As strength and health declined, persistence and courage gained greater focus. Continue reading “Becoming Ringbearers”

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Slowly Rising Pressure

Anyone who grows up in Mississippi gains respect for the effects of slowly moving fluid. The fertile soil of the Mississippi Delta, from Memphis down through Clarksdale and Yazoo City to Vicksburg, accumulated over millenia of flooding and deposition of silt carried by the river from northern tributaries. As a boy, Ott Guyton certainly heard about the Great Flood of 1927 and read with interest about the expansion of levees and scientific study of hydraulics by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.[1] Floods in Mississippi typically don’t burst upon the scene in an onrushing torrent. Instead the water rises inch by inch often under clear skies in bright sunlight with inescapable devastating effect. Continue reading “Slowly Rising Pressure”

Whirly-Go, Soldering, and Forgiveness

Struck by polio, Arthur Guyton could not pursue his chosen career of cardiovascular surgery and turned instead to basic medical science in physiology. In the fall of 1947 he joined the faculty of the 2-year University of Mississippi Medical School in his hometown of Oxford. The following year, despite some concern from the dean that he might not be able to withstand the rigors of leadership and research due to his disability, he became chairman of the Department of Physiology. Continue reading “Whirly-Go, Soldering, and Forgiveness”

Connecting with the East

At age 11 Ruth Weigle wrote, “I pause now to look back over my childhood days before passing into the dim, shadowy regions of the future.” She composed those words in 1933, little aware that within a decade the entire world would descend into total war. She herself would face unimagined challenges as a young adult.

But there was still some time to make the transition from youthful freedom to responsibility. Growing up in New Haven in the 20s and 30s, she had many advantages: excellent schools, a safe neighborhood, the intellectual climate surrounding Yale University and particularly the Divinity School.

Ruth would later recall an impressive visitor to her childhood home on Cold Spring Street – the great poet-sage of Bengal and India, Rabindranath Tagore. At the funeral of a loved one she would reflect long upon these words which he wrote: Continue reading “Connecting with the East”