14 December, 1994
This is a letter about varied personal life observations. It may be useful for a memorial service. It may contain things for you to think upon as you go about living your own life. It may very well bore the socks off you. For this last reason, I will try to keep it short.
For several weeks, I have been thinking that “things” are going along unusually well, as if I have been following unrolling threads, with no tangles to impede the flow. Good gifts for the folks I love have appeared, without my driving all over the place. All the Christmas cards are sent, many with notes where I tried to tell them how much they mean to me. I have been able to give to charities and help out folks in that way. Every day, I realize clearly how much I love your Dad, and you, and friends and family. Underlying it all is a feeling that life is wonderful, and also that I need to wrap up a lot of loose ends. This and the other letters are the result.
Making a list seems the easiest way to pass on some “wisdom”.
1. Prejudice is moral bankruptcy. It is one of the stupider courses individuals or groups can follow, blind denial of the benefits any one life may bring to us all, in ways we cannot know. It is, first and last, a foolish and terrible assault on God.
2. Cats make good members of the household, especially if they are individually allowed and encouraged to be fully actuated feline personalities. Some of my best and most well-loved friends have been cats.
3. A sense of humor is a good thing to have.
4. “If you have no umbrella and it rains on you, the worst that can happen is that you will get wet.” This is something your Dad casually said to me many years ago, when I was anxious out loud about the threat of rain, with no cover at hand. This was such a profound notion, it stopped me in my tracks. Having grown up worrying about the terrible consequences that might happen from any situation, I was always expecting and trying to prepare for the worst. As Dad pointed out, if it did rain, instead of melting or catching pneumonia, I would just get wet; the end. Thinking about this eventually changed the way I approached daily life, and made living with me a little easier. How about that.
5. Organized religion has been a mixed blessing. When it teaches love and respect for everyone and everything in the world, it is an excellent thing. When religious mendicants teach hatred and distrust of anybody they consider inferior, which turns out to be everybody else, there is always trouble. All things considered, I believe that societies work much better when people are good to each other.
6. My heroes are: Mother Teresa; Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt; Winston Churchill; the Huguenots in the French town of Chambeaux (sp?), who provided refuge to many Jews and displaced people during the 2nd World War; Gandhi; anybody I know of who chooses to face difficulties with calmness, strength and good cheer. Your Dad, who has overcome a lot to become the loving, funny, good person he was always meant to be.
7. I am an admirer or the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Democracy, as formulated here, has been a boon to the world. Further, narrower musings have led me to believe that the fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats, in a worst-case scenario, is that Democrats seem to mess up in the venal department; sex, money, and greed. Republicans go for the manic attacks on civil liberties and have a narrow and parochial view of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In a politician, I much prefer venality to reactionary subversion.
8. This is the silly section, where I get to make a list of things I like, to wit; gardening, writing, cooking, cats, rain, hand sewing, being with friends, being with family, being with Dad, walking, making a comfortable home, pizza, your singing, making lists, Miss Marple, helping someone, reading; (especially mysteries and history, and anything be John Le Carré), laughing at silly stuff, train travel, funny movies, and making good art.
All my love,