A Brave and Startling Truth – Maya Angelou

NY Times: Maya Angelou, Lyrical Witness of the Jim Crow South, Dies at 86

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when

We come to it.

Continue ReadingA Brave and Startling Truth – Maya Angelou

Arline Groenwoldt

Arline Groenwoldt
My Grandmother, Arline Groenwoldt

My maternal grandmother, Arline Groenwoldt, died on Thursday, April 15th. I waited to mention it here because I wanted to be sure that my family had a chance to attend her services first. And then I waited some more because I’m having such a hard time figuring out what to say. I can’t adequately capture her likeness in words, and it’s overwhelming to try to explain what she meant to me. I have a vivid memory of her voice, and I keep replaying things she said in my head, afraid that I’ll forget what she sounded like and that little piece of her will be lost to me.

We drove to Iowa for her memorial last week. She is interred in Davenport Memorial Park next to my grandfather, Julius H. Groenwoldt, who died on March 30, 1996.

From the Quad City Times:

Arline Groenwoldt

PERRY, Iowa — Arline V. Groenwoldt, 86, of Perry, Iowa, and a Davenport native, died Thursday, April 15, 2010, at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa. A year after her husband Julius’ death in 1996, she moved from Davenport to Perry to be near family. Memorial services will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Runge Mortuary in Davenport. She will be buried next to Julius in Memorial Park Cemetery.

She is survived by her son, Jim Groenwoldt (Debbie), of Indianapolis, Ind.; and daughters Pat Mineart, of Noblesville, Ind.; Judy Barden, of Des Moines, and Nancy Wright (Dave), of Perry; 14 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and one brother, Richard Koos (Beverly), of Davenport.

Grandma Groenwoldt’s love of reading is a legacy she passed to my mother and her siblings, and then to me and my siblings. She and my grandfather also loved flowers and their garden was full of gorgeous blooms – one of my most vivid memories from childhood.

Some flowers from our garden, for my grandmother.

Garden Blooms
Garden Blooms
Garden Blooms

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Our friend Judy’s Obituary

Our friend from knitting class, Judy Morris, died on April 2nd after a long battle with cancer. She was a warm, sweet, funny person and a very talented knitter.

Judy from our Knitting Class

Here Judy is modeling a sweater she just finished, along with a Santa she made in a photo I took in December.

Her Obituary from the Indianapolis Star:

Judith Ann Morris 53, Speedway, passed away on Friday, April 2, 2010 after a long courageous battle against cancer. A graduate of Speedway High School, she attended Butler University and St. Mary of the Woods. She was a self-employed bookkeeper and tax preparer. She cherished time spent with family and friends, especially in Alabama and Florida. She loved pets, knitting, music, and motor sports, especially the Indy 500 which she attended 38 times. She was preceded in death by her parents, James H. and Helen M. (Huber) Morris. She is survived by her sister, Kathy Morris, of Naples Florida; a brother, David (Joy) Morris, of Mobile, Alabama; nieces, Hannah, Monica, and Jessica; aunts, Marjorie Morris, and Rosemary Huber; uncle, Kenneth Huber; several cousins; and her cherished cat, Mr. Danny-Doodle. Memorials can be made in Judy’s memory to the Embrace Program at Wishard Hospital, or the Abbie Hunt Bryce Home of Indianapolis. A memorial mass will be held at a later date. “Do not grieve for me, but live every day to the fullest and cherish one another.”

Continue ReadingOur friend Judy’s Obituary

David Foster Wallace Dead at 46

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Writer David Foster Wallace hung himself on Friday at the age of 46. That’s really awful. My heart goes out to his family.

David Foster Wallace
David Foster Wallace

Would it be completely inappropriate to point out that he’s wearing my wool coat in this photo? I’m just saying.

2022-03-17 Update:
The only book I read of his was Broom of the System. I actually read the whole thing. And hated it. And book club hated me for making them read it. They were seriously pissed. I had a copy of Infinite Jest, and ever so often I’d pop it open and try to get something read in in. Then I read that he had abused Mary Karr when they were a couple, so I threw it out. (I generally throw out books, but in this case, why bother donating it?)
Continue ReadingDavid Foster Wallace Dead at 46

David Guadagnoli

Our dear friend David had a heart attack and died in his sleep Sunday night. I really don’t know what to say about losing such a warm, wonderful person. I’m having trouble believing it’s true.

I’ve taken nearly a week to figure out what to say, because it has to be right. And even now I’m not sure I’m doing justice to David. I can say he was warm, kind, funny and caring, but does that do enough to tell you who he was?

David was never shy about telling you how much he cared about you. At first that really made me uncomfortable, because it’s hard to hear compliments about yourself, even when it was completely clear that he was sincere and meant what he was saying. But after awhile I realized these are things we really should say aloud about our loved ones directly to them – people do need to hear that you care about them, and that they have value. He didn’t hold back emotional expression, and around him you knew you were loved and special. He was great at looking after people. On Stephanie’s and my first anniversary, I was just out of heart surgery, and David and Garrett fixed a wonderful dinner for us so we could have a special day even though I wasn’t able to leave the house or go far.
David was a very handsome man, but what doesn’t seem to be showing up in my photos are his very blue, beautiful eyes. And David’s eyes smiled when he did – he definitely had laugh lines around his eyes, because he always had a smile on his face and a glimmer of merriment in his eyes.

David and Garrett were helping us load up the truck with Stephanie’s things when we were moving into our house, and I made the mistake of taking I-70 to get downtown, instead of traveling through town. Part way, stuff started falling off the back of the truck, and David actually JUMPED OUT of their car and ran into traffic to pick up some of the stuff that had fallen. We were really upset with him; we didn’t want him risking his life to retrieve things. Silly boy. “We’d rather have you than any thing we own,” we told him. That’s still true.

David & Garrett's Wedding

From the IndyStar:

April 22, 2008
David D. Guadagnoli 41, of Indianapolis, passed away at his residence on April 21, 2008. He was born June 16, 1966 in New Castle, IN to David P. and Kay Ann (Keihn) Guadagnoli, and they survive. David was a graduate of Ball State University with a degree in marketing. He managed several restaurants including the Leland Hotel in Richmond, IN and R. Bistro on Massachusetts Avenue in Indianapolis and was currently a manager of a local antique mall. He was a member of St. Peter’s United Church of Christ. Other survivors include his loving partner, Garrett B. Hutson; step-daughter, Alexandra Paige Hutson; two sisters, Pam Collins and Lisa Guadagnoli. David was preceded in death by his sister, Debra Guadagnoli. Friends may call from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23 at the Leppert Mortuary, Nora Chapel 740 E. 86th Street, Indianapolis. A funeral service will be conducted at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 24 at the mortuary. You are invited to visit www.leppertmortuary.com where you may sign the online register, leave a personal message, or make a memorial contribution to the American Heart Association.

My Photos of David on Flickr.

all of us
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Our friend Joe’s Obituary

From the Indy Star:

Griffith, Travis J.
Travis Joe Griffith 37, of Indianapolis, died October 30, 2007. Travis is the beloved son of Charles and Delores (Trover) Griffith, grandmother: Thelma Griffith, brother: Wayne (Paula) Griffith and half sisters: Debbie Aiken and Angela Miller, and several aunts, uncles and cousins. Funeral services will be Friday, November 2, at 7:00 p.m. in Feeney-Hornak Shadeland Mortuary, with visitation from 4:00 p.m. until service time. Tributes may be posted at www.Mem.com

Joe was one of the sweetest, nicest people I’ve ever met. I’m so sad that he’s gone.

Continue ReadingOur friend Joe’s Obituary

Goodby, Idgie

I had to put Idgie to sleep this morning. There was nothing they could do for her; her kidneys were already in failure and they couldn’t operate. I just lost my best friend.

Continue ReadingGoodby, Idgie