Sunday, November 01, 2009

For their deeds follow them

It was, like, All Saints Week last week. Extended All Hallows' Eve. The Day of the Dead times seven. This first week of November was--not haunted--peopled, happily, with Saints Gone Before.

Item: I went back to my old high school on November 1 to see a production of "Arsenic and Old Lace." A friend's daughter, my daughter's friend, was playing Aunt Abby, the role I played long ago in high school. I was in this show again when I was 24, playing the other old lady, Aunt Martha. I met my husband, Lon, in this production. He had also been in the show in high school. Both times, he was Teddy Brewster--the quintessential Teddy Brewster, the nephew who thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt. It wasn't just Lon's mustache that made the role, it was his enthusiasm, and the crazed look in his eye. Here we are, with Patte Shaughnessy on the left as Aunt Abby.

As I watched the play, the lines came back to me. I recalled where I had entered from, and that Karl Sorenson, at rest in Christ, had played the opening scene with me and Patte. When the young man playing Teddy entered the scene at the high school, all I could hear was Lon (also at rest in Christ). I didn't watch. I just listened. Those weeks of rehearsal long ago, the eleven (?) performances had left tracks in my brain easily found and followed. Lon's character was onstage; was he himself backstage, behind the scenery, in the corner? Things happened back there. Life-altering moments.

Item: There was a funeral at church last week, for a woman--wife, mother, grandmother, piano teacher, friend--known to all, who had spent the last year battling a brain tumor, a tumor that was going to win in the end--like the brain tumor that claimed the life of Ted Kennedy a few months ago, like the tumor that took my dad's life 25 years ago. Marj died a few days before her 70th birthday, her last year an abrupt end to a cheerful, busy life. She had been the woman who coordinated funeral luncheons, who always worked on the annual Fall Sale, and who delighted in the friends and acquaintances who worked alongside her. Her funeral was on Wednesday, and it was followed by a luncheon. The big sale was on Friday, with all the ladies, young and old, at their booths of crafts and bakery and pasta sauces. Another luncheon. Marj's spirit, at rest in Christ, was somehow also part of the energy in the air at the sale.

Item: My son Kurt's science class assignment was to make a musical instrument that could play an eight-note scale, out of materials you have at home. Lucky for him, objects in our home include a clavichord my father built for me when I was 18. The instrument needs work. Lots of broken strings. We twisted these out of the tuning pins and strung them across an old wooden bread box. If you tuned the thing right before you played it, you could indeed play a recognizable tune by plucking the string, or even better, by striking it firmly with your fingertip, like the tangent on the end of the clavichord keys. I do not often get involved in Kurt's homework. (He's a high school junior; he doesn't want my help.) I was glad to be allowed to be part of this project. It brought my dad back to me. Maybe in some way, it brought my dad, Herb Gotsch, to Kurt, one of the seven grandchildren he, at rest in Christ, never got a chance to meet.

"And I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Write this: Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord.' 'Yes,' says the Spirit, 'they will rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.'" (Revelation 14:13)

I'm not exactly sure what that's supposed to mean in the context of the Revelation of John, but it sure felt like those deeds were following me around last week.

Saints in heaven, saints on earth, resting in, relying on Christ.

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