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”

Medical Education for the World and Home

When Arthur Guyton assumed the chair of physiology at the 2-year University of Mississippi Medical School in Oxford in 1948, he recognized a personal inadequacy because he actually never had taken a full graduate physiology curriculum. His knowledge derived only from medical school courses at Harvard, as well as what he had picked up in surgical internship and brief surgical residency and his term with the Navy in the war. Continue reading “Medical Education for the World and Home”

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”

Change of Plans

Kate Smallwood accepted Billy Guyton’s proposal of marriage in 1908 and almost immediately left Mississippi for a 5-year term as a Methodist missionary to Suzhou, China. A few months before leaving Suzhou to return home she wrote to her sister, who was also engaged,

You wanted to know Billy’s and my plans. He writes me that he is going home this summer and when you see him, ask him to tell you, because his plans are my plans, and what he does or what he wants me to do, you will find me trying my best to do. I am glad you are in love. I hope you love Mr. Johnson as much as I love Billy, but I doubt it. Maybe you will someday.

I asked Aunt Ruth, Kate’s daughter, if her mother was a changed person when she returned to Mississippi from Suzhou. My intent was to know if she had changed philosophically or religiously. Continue reading “Change of Plans”