Monday, April 21, 2014

Edna St. Vincent Millay & Dyngus Day

Dear John,
 
As days off go, it's been pretty strenuous. I got up early to take the car down for an oil change. I took Jethro with me and we walked back. I washed the sheets and blankets, vacuumed, put the trash out for tomorrow's pick-up, swept out the garage, paid bills, balanced the checkbook, and updated the church records for Bekah to use to put together a new directory. I need to go back to work tomorrow to get some rest.
 
A taste of South Bend for you!
Today is - you guessed it - Dyngus Day. I remember our first year in South Bend when we first encountered this particular local custom. The life-long South Benders couldn't imagine that this doesn't happen everywhere. It's specifically Polish - I know Chicago and Buffalo do it, but I've never heard of it anywhere else. It's always the Monday after Easter, and it combines politics, alcohol, and Polish sausage. I remember you used to talk about driving out Western Avenue to work, and having to dodge the walking and lying-in-the-road drunks at 9:00 in the morning. It was not a good night to work in the hospital, either. It wasn't a custom we embraced. But I feel a little sentimental about it now, because it makes me think about you.
 
It's hard to come up with anything that doesn't make me think about you, though. Even the things that don't make me think of you make me think of you. Edna St. Vincent Millay said it best:
 
Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year's leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year's bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go, - so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, "There is no memory of him here!"
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.
 
There's something appropriate about standing stricken on Dyngus Day, isn't there? It gave me a smile today - I hope it does you, too.
 
Stricken or not, remembering you,
Joan.
 
 


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