Today’s Illustration: Life Perspective At 101, Outliving Your Children . . . . & Without Hope

Who: Roger Angell

  • Born September 19, 1920
  • Father: E. B. White — “Strunk & White style guide”
  • Served in the United States Army during WWII
  • Sports Journalist
  • Harvard University Graduate
  • “In 1956 Angell joined the New Yorker as a fiction editor under William Maxwell. He held this post for almost four decades” [2]
  • Author: This Old Man:  All The Pieces — written in 2014 — age 95
  • Three children: Callie, Alice, and John Henry
  • Callie died May 5, 2010 — suicide, age 62
    “a beautiful daughter of mine, my oldest child, had ended her life, and the oceanic force and mystery of that event” [1]
  • Widower: Carol Angell (his wife) died in 2012
  • Alice died of cancer in Portland Main in 2019
  • “I don’t read Scripture and cling to no life precepts” [1]
  • Roger Angell died May 20, 2022 – age 101

Roger Angell:

“A few notes about age is my aim here, but a little more about loss is inevitable. “Most of the people my age is dead. You could look it up” was the way Casey Stengel put it. He was seventy-five at the time, and contemporary social scientists might prefer Casey’s line delivered at eighty-five now, for accuracy, but the point remains. We geezers carry about a bulging directory of dead husbands or wives, children, parents, lovers, brothers and sisters, dentists and shrinks, office sidekicks, summer neighbors, classmates, and bosses, all once entirely familiar to us and seen as part of the safe landscape of the day. It’s no wonder we’re a bit bent. The surprise, for me, is that the accruing weight of these departures doesn’t bury us, and that even the pain of an almost unbearable loss gives way quite quickly to something more distant but still stubbornly gleaming. The dead have departed, but gestures and glances and tones of voice of theirs, even scraps of clothing—that pale-yellow Saks scarf—reappear unexpectedly, along with accompanying touches of sweetness or irritation.. . . .

Our dead are almost beyond counting and we want to herd them along, pen them up somewhere in order to keep them straight. I like to think of mine as fellow-voyagers crowded aboard the Île de France (the idea is swiped from “Outward Bound”). Here’s my father, still handsome in his tuxedo, lighting a Lucky Strike. There’s Ted Smith, about to name-drop his Gloucester home town again. Here comes Slim Aarons. Here’s Esther Mae Counts, from fourth grade: hi, Esther Mae. There’s Gardner—with Cecille Shawn, for some reason. Here’s Ted Yates. Anna Hamburger. Colba F. Gucker, better known as Chief. Bob Ascheim. Victor Pritchett—and Dorothy. Henry Allen. Bart Giamatti. My elder old-maid cousin Jean Webster and her unexpected, late-arriving Brit husband, Capel Hanbury. Kitty Stableford. Dan Quisenberry. Nancy Field. Freddy Alexandre. I look around for others and at times can almost produce someone at will. Callie returns, via a phone call. “Dad?” It’s her, all right, her voice affectionately rising at the end—“Da-ad?”—but sounding a bit impatient this time. She’s in a hurry.. . . .  “

In the days before Carol died, twenty months ago, she lay semiconscious in bed at home, alternating periods of faint or imperceptible breathing with deep, shuddering catch-up breaths. Then, in a delicate gesture, she would run the pointed tip of her tongue lightly around the upper curve of her teeth. She repeated this pattern again and again. I’ve forgotten, perhaps mercifully, much of what happened in that last week and the weeks after, but this recurs.

Carol is around still, but less reliably. For almost a year, I would wake up from another late-afternoon mini-nap in the same living-room chair, and, in the instants before clarity, would sense her sitting in her own chair, just opposite. Not a ghost but a presence, alive as before and in the same instant gone again. This happened often, and I almost came to count on it, knowing that it wouldn’t last. Then it stopped. . . .

Another message—also brief, also breathtaking—came on an earlier afternoon at my longtime therapist’s, at a time when I felt I’d lost almost everything. “I don’t know how I’m going to get through this,” I said at last.

A silence, then: “Neither do I. But you will.”

I don’t read Scripture and cling to no life precepts.” [1]

^

Key Biblical Thoughts:

  • our certain hope
  • the Gospel
  • perspective
  • trials
  • pain
  • loss
  • death / dying
  • salvation
  • fatherhood / Father’s Day
  • raising children
  • missions
  • hopelessness

^

Sermonic Example: There are several distinct ways to use illustrative material.

(use whatever you find useful in the above details)

 . . . . Thank God for Jesus Christ — For Who He is and what He has done!

^



Other Information & Links:

1. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/02/17/old-man-3

A long read but an interesting read about facing death as an unbeliever.

“It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team. … What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring—caring deeply and passionately, really caring—which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete—the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball—seems a small price to pay for such a gift.” — Roger Angell

2. https://www.csmonitor.com/Books/Book-Reviews/2015/1124/This-Old-Man-displays-the-charms-of-New-Yorker-writer-Roger-Angell

https://www.conservapedia.com/Roger_Angell

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