And so he did, bearing his cross and others, he thought, like a mule its burden.

September 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

Such discussions were common between the couple. He respected the disrespect she had for his chosen profession, and found it difficult to argue with her ambivalence when it came to him personally. She was, R. told even his parishioners, much smarter than he. —The eyes of a copy-editor by day, the words of a writer by night, and the wisdom of a philosopher always, he liked to say about her. His unspoken conclusion from this, however, was that she then had good reason to love him less than he her and the ability to articulate in creatively precise ways why. Should he ever be called to offer evidence of this conviction, of the inverse relationship between love and knowledge, R. was ready to cite the insistence that he suffered to address her as M____. And so he did, bearing his cross and others, he thought, like a mule its burden.

Of course, the handwritten letters, too, were her idea. Email was, in her strong opinion, utilitarian to a fault, citing as proof, though she confessed it was unresearched, that no one reads them if they are longer than two paragraphs long. Modern information technology, she continued, is all well and good for when you simply need to convey something you don’t want to trust to memory, like workaday names, places, dates, and times. Quite the opposite, she would say with even greater passion, for those things which the additions and the failures of memory are not only inevitable but required if the message is to be properly received at all. Not to mention, —Your Baptists, they want life to be like it was in the 1950s, don’t they? With all those women stirring their stews as the men return from work, the boys rough-housing in the front yard with good-natured, correctable grace as the girls set the table with the forks and knives in proper array, all those dirty aprons, dusty hats, scuffed knees and pig-tails. R., who are we to upset this picture of slowed-down, southern-drawled bliss? No, email won’t do at all in that world of yours.

M____ loved to play the role of big city sophisticate, but the fact that she lived in a city as mid-sized and amorphously suburban as Lexington was not lost on her. She had returned after college to care for her mother, who as it happened cared little for R. Neither cancer in her stomach nor recurring congestion in her lungs could contain M. P.’s thoughts about “the boy turned Baptist.”

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