Monday, October 29, 2012

Being Dead – or Not – That is the Question

 “We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.”   
                                                                          Stage Manager, Our Town
                                                                          Thornton Wilder

I am eternal – so are you. I don’t mean eternal in God’s way – no beginning and no end. We’re just creatures and we had a beginning.

I began in the hallway of the Catholic hospital in Norfolk, Nebraska. That’s where my soul met up with my body. My father was still in the Philippines – it was 1945 – and the nuns thought my mother was bringing a bastard into the world and treated her accordingly. She was still angry when she filled out the birth certificate – mad at being left in the breezeway to give birth, and mad because she had just received a letter from my dad demanding that she name me Deanna – no explanation. She had planned on Karin after my Danish great grandmother, so she took the anger out on my name, misspelling it on purpose. I’ve been correcting people about it for over 60 years --- 67 years, to be exact and the older I get the surer I am that the real me will always exist. I have evidence:

Some days my right hip feels like a gravel-filled mortar and pestle. My face leaks – eyes water, nose runs. I’m well aware that my occasional efforts with a box of Nice n’ Easy only covers the grey, not the wrinkles.  But, I don’t feel old.  Wise, sometimes cranky, but not old. I loved teaching in a high school because it never occurred to me that I wasn’t 17. It seemed perfectly natural that I’d never left 11th grade. Some part of me hadn’t.