Wednesday, August 27, 2008

August 27, 2008

Today is my father’s birthday. He would have been 90 years old.

Memory is a faculty so effective, that I sometimes feel my father’s presence is physical and immediate. His exuberance for life fuels that memory. Augustine, in his Confessions, has a lengthy reflection on the power of remembrance, asserting that faith would not be possible without memory. Certainly, love and hope would not be possible without it either.

Shortly before his own death, Robert Penn Warren wrote a poem about his grandfather entitled "Reinterment, " pursuing this mysterious and elusive idea that memory keeps something alive. He fixed his concern not on his own impending end, but on the death all over again of his beloved grandfather, whose memory would not be held by any living being once Warren died.

I had a good visit with Mom tonight about Dad, reliving a few episodes and occasions, laughing a little. And sharing in the sadness of his loss.

My brother, Francis, said something in passing about grief several days ago that I’ve thought much about since: We don’t get over a death. We get used to it.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Remember Charlie, we don't get over greif, we move through it! My thoughts are with you!

SpookyRach said...

...gotta read that poem...

Charlie Johnson said...

I read it in Atlantic Monthly in 1984 or so. It is entitled, "Re-interment: Recollections of a Grandfather."

Dr Randi Fass said...

A moving remembrance,Charlie. Your daddy would be proud.

Anonymous said...

Charlie,
I am the sort of guy who has vivid memories and loves to tell stories.
I was told by someone I love that I hold too tightly to these old memories, and that I have to let them go and move on...
I think they where right, but Im not sure how to do it.

Do you know what thats like? Or is thinking about the past maybe not such a bad thing?

Charlie Johnson said...

This is a very good question. Short answer is that memory should propel us creatively and productively into the future. If it lodges us in the past, it is unhealthy. But, it is difficult to keep remembrance from turning into nostalgia. My pastoral mentor, John Claypool, used to say that nostalgia is the conclusion that God is not up to anything new.

Jody Ray said...

As 2nd B has celebrated the blessing of 50 years of ministry over the last year I have had the incredible fortune to hear words of wisdom, prayers, sayings and just general great stuff from John Claypool. Your sharing of his thoughts on nostalgia only underscore the deep and profound thinking I have come to appreciate so much from him. It is my great disappointment that I did not personally know him; I would have been so much the better for it. But know this dear friend: my life is deeper and richer because I have had the pleasure and honor of hearing great words from God through you. In my garden, Charlie, you are a tree.

Pax,
-j-

Jack Shull said...

Charlie:

Hope all is well and look forward to a road trip to come hear you preach.