FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Needs of Others

by MISSY BEATTIE

I ran out of my kingdom this morning, past businesses and houses with flowering lawns. Hearing music, I felt that ancient call of divinity and watched a perfect American family (wife, husband, son, and daughter) enter a place of worship, a sanctuary for some, a Sunday morning coming down or comeuppance for others, and usually, for me, real estate seldom noticed. I wondered what my mother would say, that quick-witted little woman who made pronouncements about proper church attire, if I heeded the sound of music and wandered in, wearing New Balance and spandex.

I ran on, continuing to think about my mother. The choice she made to stop medical screenings after Daddy died. Her decision to starve rather than endure weekly blood transfusions. I was at home in Kentucky during her last days.

As I write, sister Laura’s on her way to Kentucky. I haven’t been there since Mother died. I don’t know why I can’t go. I tell my siblings we should gather somewhere.

Just yesterday, I asked Erma and Laura to tell me their most meaningful memories. There was silence as each of us considered. Finally, Erma told one—her exhilaration when she placed her hand on a pregnant friend’s body and felt the baby move. I mentioned those looks of acknowledgement between Charles and me when the children did or said something hilarious or brilliant. Even now I think about that gaze, visualize a highway, physical, electric, and my heart murmurs.  Finally, we talked about a family trip to Bethany Beach, the vacation that started a tradition. Mother, Daddy, Laura, Erma, Charles, the children, and I would stay together in one condo. My brothers and their families were nearby.

When I left Laura and Erma’s house after dinner, I continued the reverie: Mother and Daddy in their car on I-64. Laura, son J and I ahead in Laura’s car. Looking back to see Mother and Daddy begin an acceleration. Their car directly to our left.  Mother’s bare ass against the front passenger window. My ladylike mother, the etiquette expert, pressing a ham.

Then this streaming detoured to the painful times—the days, weeks, months of dying and death that also give life its significance.

That also give life its significance. Our memories and knowing that we die.

“I don’t know what I’ll do if my parents die,” I’d said (circa 1980s.)

Charles: “Honey, it’s not if, it’s when.”

A couple of weeks ago, I read an essay online. It begins with a vignette, the writer’s noticing a girl, about 15, crying and talking on her cell. Should he intervene?

I told a friend to check it. After reading it, she emailed her question: “Did he get involved?” I wrote no. At least I don’t think he did. And had regret—regret that inspired his words.  Here’s an excerpt from the piece, the last paragraph:

We live in a world made up more of story than stuff. We are creatures of memory more than reminders, of love more than likes. Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be messy, and painful, and almost impossibly difficult.  But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die.

“Being attentive to the needs of others…” actually should be the point of life. And not merely observant of someone across the hall, across the street, across town, or just beyond the state line. Sure, this would be a start. But I mean abandoning borders, denouncing tribalism, and embracing all among/within this ecosystem we’ve labeled planet Earth.

Consider what we’d receive “in exchange for having to die.”

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio, Nashville Life Magazine, and was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email: missybeat@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
July 28, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jim Kavanagh
Donald the Destroyer: Assessing the Trump Effect
Eva Golinger
There is Still Time to Prevent Civil War in Venezuela
Carl Boggs
The Other Side of War: Fury and Repression in St. Louis
Anthony DiMaggio
“A Better Deal”? Dissecting the Democrats’ “Populist” Turn in Rhetoric and Reality
Conn Hallinan
 Middle East Chaos
Mumia Abu-Jamal
James Baldwin: Word Warrior
Joshua Frank
The Fire Beneath: Los Angeles is Sitting on a Ticking Time Bomb
Myles Hoenig
It Wasn’t Russia, It was the Green Party!
Andrew Levine
Enter Scaramouche, Stage Right
Brian Cloughley
Time to Get Out of Afghanistan
Alan Jones
“Finland Station” and the Struggle for Socialism Today
Robert Hunziker
Plastic Chokes the Seas
Eric Draitser
Enough Nonsense! The Left Does Not Collaborate with Fascists
Vijay Prashad
The FBI vs. Comrade Charlie Chaplin
Jane LaTour
Danger! Men Working
Yoav Litvin
The Unbearable Lightness of Counterrevolution
Charles Derber
Universalizing Resistance: How to Trump Trump
Gary Leupp
The Trump Revolution Devouring Its Own Children
Gregory Barrett
Two Johnstones and a Leftish Dilemma: Nationalism vs. Neoliberalism
Joseph Natoli
Choosing the ‘Arteries that Make Money’
CJ Hopkins
Intersectionalist Internet Blues
Pepe Escobar
China and India Torn Between Silk Roads and Cocked Guns
Ralph Nader
Can the World Defend Itself From Omnicide?
Howard Lisnoff
Agape While Waltzing at the Precipice
Musa Al-Gharbi
Want to Shake Up Status Quo? Account for the Default Effect
Angela Kim
North Korean Policy Must Focus on Engagement Not Coercion
David Macaray
Talking Union
Binoy Kampmark
Refugee Conundrums: Resettlement, the UN and the US-Australia Deal
Robert Koehler
Opening Gitmo to the World
David Jaffee
No Safe Space for Student X
Thomas Knapp
The State is at War — With the Future
David Swanson
What’s Missing from Dunkirk Film
Winslow Myers
There Is Still Time, Brother
Robert J. Burrowes
Biological Annihilation on Earth Accelerating
Frederick B. Hudson – Dr. Junis Warren
Robot Scientists Carry Heavy Human Hearts 
CP Editor
Not My Brother’s Reefer
Sam Lichtman
Where are the Millennials?
Louis Proyect
Death Race: the Cruelties of the Iditarod
Charles R. Larson
Review: Norman Lock’s A Fugitive in Walden Woods
July 27, 2017
Edward Curtin
The Deep State, Now and Then
Melvin Goodman
The Myth of American Exceptionalism
Nozomi Hayase
From Watergate to Russiagate: the Hidden Scandal of American Power
Kenneth Surin
Come Fly the Unfriendly Skies
Andre Vltchek
Philippines: Western Media is Distorting Reality, People and Army Unite to Battle “ISIS”
Robert Fisk
Out of the Ruins of Aleppo: a Syrian Community Begins to Rebuild
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail