April 17, 2014

Two deaths

I had unexpected news of two deaths today. One was in the extended family that will no doubt have many rippling effects. He was a good man who was like another father to my children and another grandfather to my grandchild. A Vietnam veteran, a Democrat and a quiet decent man from southern West Virginia respected by all who knew him.

The other was that of the great Latin American author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Marquez is best known for his style of magical realism, which he believed only told the truth about the Caribbean world. I've often thought that the truth about Appalachia could best be told that way as well. I am in awe of his One Hundred Years of Solitude, which recounts the creation and dissolution of an entire world.  In my dreams, I'd write a book about this place as baroque and layered as his. But only in my dreams. Who but Marquez would begin a novel thus:

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

It kind of makes you wonder what kind of random thoughts will float through our heads when we face our own (metaphorical, one hopes) firing squad.

I am not fluent in Latin, alas,  but  I like the sound of some phrases I know. Like this one, which wishes that the dead may rest in peace: Requiescat in pace.

At times like these, I love the words of the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, in which I was steeped from my infancy: "Give to the departed eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine upon them."