May 1, 2011

My Week: Birth and Death

The past week was booken-ed by birth and death. The week got off to a happy start with the birth on Monday of my second great-granddaughter Mckenzie Joy Dreisenstok, who weighed in at a healthy 7 pounds, 6 ounces. Mother and baby are doing well, as is Kaylee, Mckenzie's going-on-five sister.

On Saturday, daughter Ann and I flew up to Ithaca for a memorial celebration of the life of my sister-in-law Gail who died in January.  My smart and sensible brother Rodger decided to put off the celebration until after the Ithaca winter had passed.  But much of the conversation at the April 30 celebration still was about the weather  -- the tornadoes that had bounced around the area the day before.

Gail and Rodger are examples of the strong social support network that develops when people remain part of the same community from childhood to older age.  They had an exceptionally strong marriage based on their shared good humor, love of life, and down-to-earth ways. A big gap is left in Rodger's life with the passing of his wife of 49 years of close companionship.  But his many friends and supporters are helping him through this.

I mentioned this birth/death bookend to the week at my Parkinson's Support Group meeting on Friday and one of our erudite members referenced the poem "Ecce Puer" that James Joyce composed after his grand-father died at about the same time as a son was born.  It's a lovely poem:


Poem: "Ecce Puer" by James Joyce

Of the dark past
A child is born;
With joy and grief
My heart is torn.

Calm in his cradle
The living lies.
May love and mercy
Unclose his eyes!

Young life is breathed
On the glass;
The world that was not
Comes to pass.

A child is sleeping:
An old man gone.
O, father forsaken,
Forgive your son!

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