Freedom

Around Y2K, the not-so-cataclysmic millennial turn, both of my parents moved past their 80th birthdays. In January 2003 Susan and I visited them at the big concrete house in Jackson, Mississippi. Shortly afterward I wrote a letter to her parents in Texas describing that visit: Continue reading “Freedom”

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”

Early Education: Counting to Ten

At the Guyton household in Jackson, Mississippi, new babies began to arrive. David, Robert, Johnny, Steve, Cathy, and Jeannie had moved with Ruth and Arthur from Oxford to a cramped small house on Meadow Road. Doug soon occupied a crib in a corner of his parents’ room. By the time Jimmy and Tommy arrived, the big concrete house was ready to welcome them.

That might have been enough, but later in the 1960s a bonus package arrived. It seemed only fitting that this Protestant mother would name her 10th child Gregory Paul after two Catholic popes. Ruth had to send a telegram to her Wellesley classmates explaining why she would not be able to attend their 25th reunion. “They were struck dead with horror,” she recalled with great amusement. Continue reading “Early Education: Counting to Ten”

Water to Cripple and Heal

Our grandparents, Luther and Clara Weigle, in the mid-1920s built a summer house on the wooded shoreline of Lake Sunapee in New Hampshire. The beautiful lake sits near the western boundary of the state, about halfway between Massachusetts and Maine. It stretches over ten miles mostly north-south, just over one mile wide in the middle part, with a prominent turn at the Tilson house at the north end. Sunapee swells with seasonal residents in summer and contracts in winter. Our mother’s family were among the part-timers, coming up from New Haven, Connecticut, every June. Continue reading “Water to Cripple and Heal”