Born on April 4th, 1918, my dad would have been 97 today. Later today, after I take Squiggy to the vet for whatever shot he’s scheduled to get, I’ll be heading down to the cemetery for a visit. One of my coworkers said that she couldn’t bear to go to the cemetery where her father is buried, but I don’t have such a hard time going to see my dad. Not that I don’t miss him, or my mum (it is harder for me when mum is the reason for my visit), but when I’m there and look around at so many of their old friends buried nearby, it’s somewhat comforting. Nearly every name I see is one that I know, or know of, from growing up in Brewster. And almost every day when I’m driving home from work, I pass the old entrance to the cemetery, and I wave and say ‘hi’ each time because, while out of sight from the road, I know that my parents are straight up that old drive, and among friends.
Today also marks 41 years since my maternal grandmother, Elizabeth “Bessie” Cook, died of breast cancer. Even though the film mammogram had been invented in 1969, five years later it was certainly not the common preventative screening method that it is today. So despite having undergone a double mastectomy, Grandma’s cancer was too far along to be stopped. I remember mum and I going to the nursing home a day or two after my sister, Anne, had given birth to Bessie’s first great-grandchild, my godson and oldest nephew, Michael. We believe that, knowing that Anne was due any day, Grandma had been stubbornly hanging on until Michael was born. Anne had taken one of those old instant photos of newborn Michael and mailed it to Grandma immediately, but it arrived too late for Bessie. I will never forget her funeral, with my mum clutching my hand and sobbing aloud when the church soloist started to sing “Ave Maria.” to this day, I cannot hear that song without flashing back to that harrowing moment.
On a more global scale, several much more important events occurred on this day in history:
-On April 4th, 1968, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee. This alone makes April 4th a day that should live in infamy. (I’m sure that if those who wish to re-write American history according to their own delusions, schoolchildren will someday be taught that “The Great White Hope” James Earl Jones pulled the trigger.) Remarkably, Dr. King was only 39 years old at the time of his murder – remarkable considering how huge an impact his brief life’s work had on the Civil Rights of African-Americans and on our nation’s history.
-On April 4th, 1776, General George Washington began his march from Boston to New York, and his presence here in our little neck of the New York woods is commemorated by several roadside historical markers. For a time, Washington’s headquarters were located in what is known as the John Kane House here in Pawling.
-On April 4th, 1841, President William Henry “I died in 30 days!” Harrison died of pneumonia, exactly one month after having insisted on giving his over-long inaugural address on a frigid day without a coat or hat.
-On April 4th, 1949, the NATO pact was signed.
-On April 4th, 1928, future U.S. Poet Laureate Maya Angelou was born.
-And on April 4th, 1865, supposedly Abraham Lincoln dreamt about his own assassination.
This is our daily Open Thread – talk about anything you’d like.