November 16, 2014
In a neglected desk drawer I discovered a card my sister had mailed me several years ago. The envelope was gone; only the card remained. I felt an immediate sense of loss when I recognized her distinctive left-handed script.
But when I opened it and saw what it was, I smiled.
Beth loved the satirical, polished wit of Ogden Nash. In her note she had written to tell me (with a perfectly straight face) that she had recently purchased a book of Ogden Nash’s writing, and, with his help, was learning new things about animals.
She added that she was including two selections that she thought would be helpful to me in my work.
Here are the two nonsense-rhymes she had copied out for me.
The cow is of the bovine ilk;
One end is moo, the other milk.
The one-l lama,
He’s a priest,
The two-l llama,
He’s a beast.
And I will bet a silk pajama
There isn’t any
I read each one aloud twice, my laughter admittedly mixed with some tears. But even as I write, I am still smiling.
It is no small thing to bet a silk pajama on a three-l llama. Such a wager merits cautious consideration and careful thought. I am grateful to my sister all over again for reminding me that paying attention to words can be both fun and serious business. Details matter.
Beth has been gone nearly two years now. But the time and effort she invested in sending me this bit of Nash’s nonsense live on to comfort and cheer me on this cold, snowy day despite her absence.
And Beth has indeed made me think about my work although from a point quite different than the one she suggested, tongue-in-cheek, in her note.
I am thinking that it is a great gift to leave laughter behind.
How do you plan to make provision for later-laughter after you are gone?
See you next week.