Stephen A. Fuqua (SAF) is a Bahá'í, programmer, and conservation and interfaith advocate in the DFW area of Texas.

June 21, 2004

Of Loss and Hope

[Note - design will be changing soon]

Perhaps tomorrow or another day soon I shall extol with melodrama on the virtues of blogging and my sudden embrace (see #7) of the medium. But not this day. This day I shall speak of loss and of hope.

I am by nature a stoic. Thus it is not often that I shed a few tears twice in 24 hours.

1

The first occasion was in melancholic memory of my father's mother, who passed away yesterday morning. Grief for her was not the cause—rather a sadness that the world should be deprived of such a soul. Even this sadness is not one to last, for death is but nature. She was one who lived as the est Christian woman she could be—a friend to all, dispensing wisdom, advice, life skills, perhaps a few too many stories…

She was a Southerner through and through, growing up in East Texas. Her father as a county judge helped build one of the first schools in Texas for African American children. She had more than the usual number of black friends and acquaintances, yet never batted her eye at the fact that she used to employ a black housekeeper whom she refused to invite to her son's wedding. We never could break her from the habit of calling African Americans "nigras," which in her mind was quite a different word from that one of which you are now thinking.

She was the first of her family to receive a college degree. She worked as a teacher, a social worker, a chemist (during The War). She was very talented, and quite proud of her accomplishments and those of her family. She took in extended family as her own kith, and for the last few years held her body together through sheer will as she awaited the next big family event. In such a way she triumphed over illnesses to reach four weddings (nearly attended a fifth one month ago) and had the bounty of meeting two healthy great-grandchildren.

But finally her body had seen enough. She had been at peace with death for many years, and I always believed her when she said that she did not fear death. She had an unshakeable faith in her Methodist creed, a faith that certainly would have filled her last moments before slipping away just as it had filled her life.

Now at 88 she has finally rejoined her husband, 19 years deceased. Happy father's day, Granddaddy—Grandma's here to see you.

2

This morning history was made as SpaceShipOne left the atmosphere, floating 400 ft. beyond the internationally-recognized boundary of space. It was a triumphant moment that, as I watched the White Knight soar into the troposphere, brought a few tears of joy and amazement to momentarily cloud my eyes.

If you've not watched a film clip of the event, do so. And think about all it may signify. This isn't the beginning of cheap and ubiquitous space flight—Ruttan's ship isn't capable of anything truly commercial beyond a few joy rides. Nevertheless this was an awe inspiring event, one that I hope and believe augurs a bright few decades ahead of us.

I don't know what I expect of NASA in years to come, but these bold engineers and explorers have fanned the sparks left in my soul by The Jetsons, Luke Skywalker, and Ray Bradbury. Do you grok me?

8 Comments

All of the people from our class (certainly myself and Sapna) are nearing the age when we start having to consider mortality, both own own and that of those around us.

I feel there's nothing wrong with shedding a few tears. Sometimes, it even helps.

steve, oddly, coincidentally enough, my paternal biological grandfather passed on the same day, two days ago, also at the age of 88... he too had no fear of death, was very curious about it, and longed to leave his failing body behind... he was the last farmer in a line of farmers that had been farming the new world for almost 300 years, since they came over in 1704... oldest son of the oldest son & so on & so forth... gave it up 'cause his only son was a farmer & dealer of some stuff your not allowed to farm... tried to find yours truly in a fanciful last-ditch attempt to keep it going & ultimately sold it all off for a housing development... i met him one time, just over a year ago, when his health was starting to decline... he & my paternal grandmother (married 60 years) were still in the house they'd built on the land... saw the old family bible with my paternal forbears stretching back to the late 1500's... i'm the firstborn son of his only son... it's odd... i woke up from a nap & he was on my mind & i kind of thought he'd passed, turned out it was the exact time he'd gone... all the males in my biological family had been born on the 18th of whatever month they were born in for generations, and luke broke the trend... and i'm glad, really... i've always felt like somewhat of an unknown and enjoyed that... i didn't really want to feel pulled into that continuum... although i was born on the 18th too... but, yeah, it was cool to know him, and i hope that the journey he's on now is treating him well... maybe he & your grandmother are on the same tour bus, or orientation program or, well, you know... in the immortal words of Ray Lewis: "are you feeling me?"

Yes, hoping, hopping, whatever =). (2 people caught that typo and mentioned it).

I would only judge myself harshly if there hadn't been a few tears for one whom I've known my entire life.

Thanks for stopping by. Let's see if I can do anything interesting with this site.

Stephen! great to see this!! ;-)

...as you may soon discover, these things do take time to make quality- I need to update mine, but it is time consuming.

I agree completely- tears are a very valuable thing- they reveal what is important to you, and where you feel pain is also where you experience growth, part of the whole purpose of this life (growth) i believe, anyway.

A children's book i once read had the little girl protagonist put it so simply and clearly- tears wash away the things that are keeping you from seeing clearly.

also, from the semi-sarcastic tone of "Boys Don't Cry" ala your favorite band (right?) i think Robert Smith would agree.

again, welcome (back?) to the realm of bloggers. nice to see you here.

I would say I'm sorry if I thought that it would change your mind
But I know that this time I've said too much, been too unkind
So I try to laugh about it
Cover it all up with lies
I try to laugh about it
Hiding the tears in my eyes

you know, my approach to tears is kind of like my understanding of the Faith's approach to miracles... their meaning is only only discernable to their witnesses, and lost somehow in the retelling... and maybe they are miracles, really... the way they impact us and their witnesses... and the fact that any of us still have the capacity to shed them... since we're riffing on band references i'll throw in my favorite band from the 80's jane's addiction, circa "nothing's shocking", for an album & song that explores the theme of desensitization... by the way, in the battle of gender-ambiguous singer/cross-dressers from the eighties, i have to believe perry farrell would kick robert smith's ass... and that's what's really important... ... ... joking... anyhow, good luck with this thing, steve, i'll look forward to catching these glimpses of what's going on with you, while i'm missing my friend & fellow founding dawnbreaker (soccer team for those who might read this & think we're starting a splinter cult)... & don't sweat the typos, brother, they can be funny... on a final note, this morning, whist perusing the austin yellow pages looking for a general practicioner, jub happened upon a vascectomy doc by the name of Richard Chopp... check it yourself... you saw it here before you saw it on Leno...

Actually someone pointed Dr. Chopp out to me a couple of years ago =). I think you can look him up under Urologists too.

ouch ... sounds like Leno material to me! good call B ;-)