Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bridge of Love

The past few days have been a bit surreal for my family. You know the state where you're a little bit numb, a lot relieved and grateful but sad, all at the same time?

My brother-in-law Bob, the life of every party, who never met a stranger, and who entertained anyone who would listen for hours, (usually with the same stories), died of bone cancer on Thursday. It probably sounds like a cliche to say that his wife and siblings are glad he is no longer in horrible pain or still in a coma that lasted for a week, but in this case it is absolutely true.

It has been a rough year for them. Grace (Stan's sister) works at Gwinnett Medical Center and is well-versed in medical matters. The two of them spoke about his impending death openly and without fear or emotion and were pretty shocked that he lived as long as he did. Their love for each other and family was so obvious and inspiring.

She called me the morning of Feb. 18th to tell me he had passed away at 5 a.m. My real mother also died on Feb. 18, in 1962, and has been my guardian angel many times on that date. Before I went to sleep on Ash Wednesday, I asked God to let her help us in some way. I think God listened to her.

Grace is living up to her name perfectly and is doing very well, handling everything the way they both wanted. There was no wake or funeral or obituary in the newspapers. Family and close friends have visited with her and have been uplifted by her attitude. She will be hosting a "celebration of life" gathering at her house over the weekend when she will have a chance to see special friends who have moved away from Georgia. She wants it to be like an Irish wake and it sounds like it certainly will be. She'll be showing a video from 20 years ago taken at a friend's 40th birthday party where Bob and the birthday girl's husband did a little skit and were hysterically funny and entertaining. This is the way she wants Bob remembered and cherished and I believe he will be.

As I was watching American Idol last night, I thought it was rather amusing that so many of the girls sang Beatles songs, obviously trying to appeal to Boomers as well as the younger generation. The Beatles are such a part of our culture, especially for those of us who listened to their records constantly in the 60's and swooned at them on the Ed Sullivan Show. They're an international icon but they aren't number one on my hit parade. That spot goes to Simon and Garfunkle.

When Stan and I were first married, we didn't splurge on a lot of purchases (except at delis and bakeries!) but we bought Simon and Garfunkle records. The cover of Bookends still stares at me whenever I open my hall closet. I always loved Sounds of Silence and he liked it a lot too but his favorite was Bridge Over Troubled Water. Over the past week, I've been thinking about that song a lot and have been touched by how eloquently the lyrics express my feelings for Stan and the relationship between Grace and Bob.

My memory got stuck on a few words and I was afraid to look on because it has crashed my computer and I'm not risking ruining the library's or my daughter's. I am fortunate to have a friend who remembers song lyrics verbatim and typed them out for me. I don't know how Paul and Art came up with the words but they seem spiritual to me. (The Catholic Church doesn't agree since I could not have it played at Stan's mass but the CD was on at the luncheon afterwards.) "When you're weary, feeling small/When tears are in your eyes I will dry them all. I'm on your side when darkness fall/And pain is all around/Like a bridge over troubled water/I will lay me down."

The last part is the clincher: "When you need a friend I'm sailing right behind/Like a bridge over troubled water I will ease your mind." It makes me want to bow my head and say, Amen.

We, thank goodness, have a life to celebrate. I don't know who sang it but I like the thought, "Celebrate, celebrate, dance to the music."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I am happily reading a brand new book, The Brightest Star in the Sky, by one of my favorite Irish lasses, Marian Keyes. She is witty, even makes me laugh out loud at times, and is very insightful about human nature. Okay, not so unusual for a good writer -- can evoke emotions, entertain and show astute perception. What is surprising is that, according to her blog, she is suffering from depression and has been for some time.

I guess the book could have been written before her current bout, especially since books from the UK often are delayed with being released in the US. Her husband, whom she refers to as "himself," sends out her monthly blog and reports on terrific recent sales. He is most definitely not suffering from depression!

It's almost like hearing that a friend is sick. When you follow an author's works, you feel like you know that person through her characters, don't you? I found myself saying a little prayer for her -- maybe selfishly because I don't want her to stop writing -- but also because she is a truly funny, kind woman.

During my most cheerful moments, I couldn't compose one line as good as hers, no less many novels as well as a couple of collections of humorous essays (Under the Duvet and Cracks in My Foundation).

As we approach St. Patrick's Day, I hope her black cloud disappears and she is filled with the joy that she brings to her readers.