When I graduated high school we had a great big party, a pile of friends, family and gifts. Among the gifts was a small book; Desiderata, a poem written by Max Ehrmann. At the time, I didn’t know how much these words would affect me, sometimes it still surprises me. The book was given to me by my Aunt Edythe.
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
breathed her last breath Sunday, Mother’s day, the 9th of May 2010. If anyone ever lived the words of Desiderata
it was Edythe. She loved her partner,
family and friends in an incomparable way; the way we all wish we could love
others. Edythe shared herself and loved everyone
around her in an almost magical way.
Now, don’t get the idea that Edythe was some mythical figure who lived in a bubble, she had a hard life, bad things happened to her, and her death came way too early. Maybe it’s true, only the good die young. Or maybe, just maybe, when someone as good as Edythe dies, it will ALWAYS feel like they were too young, even if they are 100. At 53, she had lived a full, interesting life, just not enough of it, she was just too young.
I remember camping with K- and Edythe, stopping for lunch along the way, our feet on the dash of her little truck singing Happy Together “Me and you, you and me, no matter how they toss the dice, it had to be…”
I remember Easter dinner eating mashed potatoes and turnips in the dining room before K- and E’s big renovation…
I remember every
birthday card I got from her on my birthday, or the lack thereof. I’m 31 and I never got one from Edythe by the
date my birthday rolled around each year.
Edythe’s cards always arrived well after the date. It became something to look forward to in the
upcoming weeks. I would see the familiar
handwriting on the corner of the envelope, the postmark and just smile…
I remember they way her eyes sparkled with joy and interest in whatever I would ramble on about. No matter how boring someone else would have thought my story was, Edythe could see the fun in it, she could always see the best side of everything…
I remember talking
to Edythe about the peace she had made here on earth with her fate, with the
disease that ravaged her body, changed her, and ultimately did not break
her. Edythe remained hopeful, cheerful,
funny and loving through her battle with cancer…
I will always have
these memories and many more, and for that, I am thankful. Having Edythe as an aunt and friend has been
I must have done something great to get to have her in my life.
I'd also like to share a slideshow of K- and E's wedding, along with the poem I wrote them for the occasion.
You have taught me Joy,
to rejoice in the small things in life, and laugh, laugh, laugh.
You have taught me Patience,
to accept the things I cannot change and change only the really important things.
You have taught me Tolerance,
to recognize that everyone’s perspective is different and deserves respect.
You have taught me Courage,
to fight for what I believe even when no one else will.
You have taught me Independence,
to think about and question the status quo.
You have taught me Love,
To celebrate it, share it and cherish every moment.