Saturday, April 29, 2006

Gentle Souls

OK. I surrender. I've just about totally given in to the tyranny of the eyeglasses. I can still remember the very first time it dawned on me that I was having difficulty seeing something up close. First there is denial. (I just couldn't get my head back far enough to read the tape measure in that tight spot.) Then compensation and excuses. (I'm tired. The light is bad.) Then the first pair of drugstore glasses. (Just for evening reading.) Then the constant search for reading glasses. (Honey, did you take my glasses, AGAIN?) Then the purchase of multiple cheater glasses so there is always a pair close at hand. Then always making sure glasses are among those things in the pockets when departing home. (Spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch.) What's next? Bifocals?

God, getting old sucks! My first wake-up call was when I hurt my back about 15 years ago. One of my mottos has always been, "A strong back is a terrible thing to waste." Like drinking after that first time you get really sick from over-indulgence, you don't take your back for granted after spending four days on the livingroom floor because you can stand up. Now, to back-awareness and weakening eyes (We won't even mention my prostate!), I can add obituary-reading to signs that I'm getting old.

When I was a kid, every night after dinner, my father would sit at the table reading Newsday. He would always read the obituaries and would very often comment on the death of someone he knew, either personally or because of their notoriety. I could never understand why he was so interested in dead people. These days, I am finding myself scanning the Globe obits for people I've heard of or just stories about those who have lead interesting or inspirational lives. I am starting to lose people I've known personally, even, sadly, some contemporaries, but I don't expect to stumble on those stories in the paper.

This week, there was an obituary in the Boston Globe for artist Norma Shaw wonderfully written by Bryan Marquard. Shaw, 56, as far as I can tell was not a well-known artist, but with her talent, integrity and kind spirit she was able to touch the souls of those who knew her.

An artist whose bones were at times as fragile as the birds she loved to watch, Ms. Shaw lived a deliberate life. Eschewing driving, she walked, rode a bicycle, or took a train. In a notebook she listed the thousands of books she had read. She would always step over ants and look out for birds. Ms. Shaw loved being alone in nature and traveled with binoculars in her bicycle baskets. She was ahead of her time in terms of thinking about the environment. She was a strict vegetarian from when she was young, before it was fashionable.

I wonder what this world could be like if we all would strive to walk as gently and peacefully as Norma Shaw.


At 11:34 AM, Blogger thought spot said...

thanks for the reminder, kind words are shared all to little and much appreciated.

At 8:43 AM, Blogger Julie Zickefoose said...

I like your blog, and reading your comments. Yes, we need more Norma Shaws. Keep writing!


At 8:57 PM, Blogger SimplyTim said...


Every once in a while I will buy the Boston Globe and will, while reading it, check out the obits.

I tend to only read the longer obits. I love to hear how someone did something of interest and significance.

The gal who won the Ididerad race several times, the woman who gave out socks to the homeless, the man who had a talent for locating water mains.

When I find a "good" one, I'll cut it out and leave it in its own plastic sleeve in a 3-ring binder I have in my waiting room in my office.



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