Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Gift at the Grist Mill

Yesterday I went tot he Grist Mill in Seekonk to meet  up with my reunion class from Saint Xavier's Academy.  A small group meets every month --weather permitting. This was supposed to be  on the last day of February, but when I appeared there at Noon I was told there was no reservation for the group. I sat  alone for a  minute and then asked whether they had been there  the day before and the hostess said yes. So -- They said the last day of February-- and I wrote  29 down because of Leap Year  but they met on the 28th.  I stood to depart and then I stopped.
I f you don't know it the Grist Mill is perched on a lovely spot, a  small falls of the Runnins River. It has been there a long time and on this day we were having a little snow. The  grey tone of the sky, the water, the arching bridge, the stone walls, the gulls, the geese and the two immense swans were assuming a   picture of  unmixed harmonies of  white, grey,  charcoal,  silver, and black that Whistler would have delighted in.
 So I thought  why rush out--this is a gift of a solitary lunch in a   perfect place. I  asked for and was seated by the window bedside the falls. The sound and motion of the water danced  outside the window and inside the   aroma of cooking and the wood smoke from the  stone hearth fireplace  made a delicious contrast.

I went home and wrote this the  first day of March and I did  not post it. As my readers may know the Grist Mill has been destroyed by a passing  truck and an explosion. I cannot even look when I drive  by now. How I hope that something beautiful and appropriate will be erected there.

WHILE WE LIVE, WE SING

Last year  I went to the Mowry family reunion held in Woonsocket. My family has close ties to Woonsocket..  I have  often gone to Oak Hill cemetery when I was  a child, brought there  by my  father's sister, my Aunt Grace. She was extremely faithful in  decorating and caring for the graves of her family.  My father's mother was Ida Mowry and her grave is in a small cemetery in Cumberland on  Dexter Street.  It was my Aunt who died  in  2000 at the age of 90 who did the research on all the Union soldiers buried there and convinced the town of Cumberland that they should at least mow the grass and  keep the grave sites accessible to those of us who still want to honor our dead.  She won a large victory,  and I was impressed by her determination and her  insistence on doing the right thing.  She was a person of high standards, and much as I try to imitate her, I always feel that she is still light years ahead of me in so many ways.  
I only wish that I had gone to Mowry reunions with my Aunt Grace,  but I did get to go with another dear and faithful family  member, my cousin Louise,  her grandfather was the brother of my grandmother Ida.
One of the great things that I learned at the reunion is that the Mowry family motto is the Latin tag  DUM VIVO, CANO which is translated--"While I live, I sing." 

This moved motto  me because it speaks to my desire to express myself more fully and more creatively  before I die. An  Irish   friend once said to me "You must fiddle the tune that is in  you."  And  that is  another way of saying that we all have something to say and we have the right  even the duty to ourselves to give expression to the unique message that only we with out unique DNA  have brought to the earth.

I find this  insistence that we are all creative to be very comforting and stirring. I have often spent much energy and intelligence and creativity interpreting the  writings of others--that's what it means to  be a person who professes literature. But  I always  felt  a   longing to express myself more directly.  I guess that is the  reason for the blog also   Finally, as of 30 November 2012--I am no longer teaching. It took me that long to actually reach the state of being fully retired and  the fact of my own declining health is what made me  finally understand  how limited and unpredictable our life on earth is.

I would like to spend some time before I die discerning and expressing as fully and clearly as possible the  message that the Creator placed in me.  Just as he placed a message in each of you, dear reader. That is what is new about each of us and what we are here  to discover and share.  Let's get on with the show--while we live we can sing.