July 14, 2011
Frank didn’t quite make 85, but he took off, anyway, down the mountain ahead of us carrying the load of meat. Don and Bill and I stumble along behind and will catch up all too soon.
Frank, that elegant Irishman, a model of poise, polish, and style. Yes, Frank was what “style” means, that which made him so particularly who he was and the way he did it. The Brady-style is permanent in our imagination.
Frank was all charm and charisma. Such a good-looking guy. Funny and witty in his fond and warm and humane way.
Frank sparkled, it seemed to me. He was one in whom life itself sparkled. We wonder where it came from-- and where it went with him yesterday. What was its origin?
Frank was deeply engaged with family origins and worked hard at digging them out. He dug as deep and far back as his tools would take him into old Ireland. And I can imagine his taking us all the way back to those ancient folks of ours who got up on their hind legs and wordlessly began to work their way north out of Africa. They were to evolve the qualities that would one day make a person like Frank Brady a possibility.
One ordinary day of ordinary struggle, one of those early old folks of ours saw one of their old folks die and was suddenly stricken with something never before felt or experienced. It was a breaking heart, full of grief and loss. And, it was this oldest of old timer’s experience that suddenly made us fully human. Never would he-- or we-- again be far from suffering and heart-break. Death would hang everywhere upon them-- and us-- to teach the value of our humanity and this new thing, called Love.
Now, this crazy Death goes and hides Frank from us. Where, in the name of alI that’s high and holy, did he go!
! am more and more persuaded by the death and dying as we see it in that great last act of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town.
The dead in that bleak grave-yard are quickly willing to give us up in payment for their blessed oblivion. They forget us. They have done all they can for us, been all they can for us, and now we are on our own. It is now our turn to begin to pave a way toward Death-- for us and for others-- by way of the life we live. I think Death is meant for the living.
I am professionally qualified, my papers show, to say something about Death. But I swear I know nothing about it, nothing, except that it is surely the most important, the most interesting, most mysterious, the most demanding thing that we do in life. And we ought to keep after it, not let it get us down, and try to do it well, in our own way and style as Frank did.
I see his sparkle yet, and hear him yell a glorious Gang Way! As he comes down that mountain-side with the meat on his shoulders, just as the dead go on ahead of us, into that perfect oblivion, leaving open a place for us, for Don and Bill and me, to keep working at the promise of Love.