Living in Society

On a Clear Day You can See Forever

Closeup of Antoine LeClaire Monument
On a Clear Day You Can See Forever
Retro Post from Jan. 11, 2012

It was another clear, warm day yesterday. When I ran the trash cart and recycling bin to the street this morning, the sky was clear, stars bright. The waning gibbous moon illuminated the house, driveway and yard with its silvery light, reminding me of how minuscule earthly troubles are in the scope of life in the universe.

Inside the trash cart were remnants of chicken wire from Monday’s garden work and a number of old pillows, one of which I brought back from Germany with me in 1979. No real trash as we did not generate enough this week to make a full bag.

The Iowa House of Representatives implemented new video webcast functionality at the beginning of the legislative session. I viewed Governor Branstad give his 17th condition of the state address to a joint session of the legislature. He focused on two things: economic growth and education reform. President of the Iowa Senate, Jack Kibbie, could be seen behind the governor applauding politely from time to time. Hopefully, the governor will find common ground with the legislature this year. As House Speaker Pro Tempore Jeff Kaufmann pointed out with regard to property tax reform, there are three versions, the governor’s, the House version and the Senate Democratic version. This three part division seems likely to follow everything the legislature does this year.

I drove to Runge Funeral Home in Davenport for visitation, memorial service, and interment of the mother of a long time friend. My mother came for the visitation and we sat in the parlor, waiting to speak to Dennis, whom we have both known for a long time. Mom drove separately and when she left the visitation, we went to nearby Mount Calvary Cemetery to visit the graves of family members. Many people from my childhood are buried there.

As one enters the cemetery, the road passes Antoine LeClaire’s grave. He was one of the founders of Davenport who interpreted the autobiography of Black Hawk. Our family is buried further back. This visit I noticed one of my grade school classmates is buried next to my father’s plot. My classmate died in 2010. We visited my father, my grandmother and my great grandparents. At least three of my grandmother’s sisters are buried in the cemetery. We visited Pauline and Margaret’s graves, which are near their parents.

Mom brought a holiday fruitcake for me which I transported in the passenger seat, a simple pleasure.

When Mom went home, I returned for the memorial service which was conducted by a Lutheran minister. The music was Anne Murray, “Can I have this Dance?” Willie Nelson and a Polka with bird chirps superimposed on it. We said the Protestant version of the Lord’s Prayer.

At the interment, Dennis invited me to his sister’s home for sandwiches and we sat at the dining room table talking about diverse issues. In our younger days, we discussed Bellow, Hegel, Nietzsche and Sartre. Now, we discuss oncology, magnetic resonance imagery, physicians, and a too long list of human diseases and ailments. We did manage to work Joan Didion, Richard Ford and Philip Roth into the conversation.

The drive west went quickly. I was too late for the veterans meeting in Coralville, so I went directly home, tired from the day and ready for a long sleep. In this morning’s silvery, predawn light, Orion sat on top of our house as I walked back to the garage. I stopped and pondered, knowing that my recognition of the constellation was transient, and that I was ready for another day.