"Francie went over to stand at the great window from which she could see the East River twenty stories below. It was the last time she'd see the river from that window. The last time of anything has the poignancy of death itself. This that I see now, she thought, to see no more this way. Oh, the last time how clearly you see everything; as though a magnifying light had been turned on it. And you grieve because you hadn't held it tighter when you had it every day.
"What had granma Mary Rommely said? "To look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory."
--- From A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
August 12, 2005
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That's one of my very favorite books on earth. File it away to read later, by the same author: Joy Comes in the Morning.
I loved it. I t was so *real*. I loved watching how the descriptions of things changed as Francie got older-- when she is little, everything is described with a child-like intensity and wonder (remember the brown bowl with flowers at the library?) which gradually diminishes as she matures. Very thought-provoking. It reminded me to really enjoy small things, like the way my grandfather's rusty red grass-cutter looks against the green-gold-brown of the land. Beautiful.
So I take it this is a yes for year 11, my dearest Guinea Pig?
I DO think that we should take nothing for granted, for when we do, we ignore something's significance and beauty so that we can tend to things we have made to be more "pressing" for us. Some things are worth that, but a lot of things are not.
This strongly evokes for me the day I took my last long, slow walk through all the rooms of Grandmother and Grandaddy Rushing's wonderful old house, knowing that it would meet bulldozers before I could make it back to Tennessee again. I made sure I had every detail memorized.
I grew up in that house, spent happy chunks of all my childhood summers there, as did you. It was a magical place for a child's imagination -- there was nothing you couldn't be in that big, rambling house, or out in the barn, or in the garden, or the orchard, or up in the trees, or on the big porch...
It was hard to say goodbye like that, but I still remember everything through that "magnifying light." I have driven down Poplar past their old place since then, but I will never, ever look. I already know everything about that piece of land that I will ever need to know.
Me too. That was my first experience with death, in a way-- that house was almost a person. I have not seen that piece of property since that day.
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