A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Bernice Eddington

Today was the eightieth birthday of Bernice Eddington, mother of my good friend Donna Lamotte. The occasion was marked by a surprise party, which had to be held in a rented hall because the family is so large. Mrs. Eddington was the mother of ten children, and has no less than eighty grand- and great-grandchildren. A pretty fair number of her impressive brood, plus many in-laws and friends, showed up to honor her.

There was much hugging and kissing and shaking of hands, a non-alcoholic toast, and tributes to the birthday girl. There was a very respectable spread of fried chicken, ham, collard greens, potato salad, and macaroni salad, followed by a huge cake. A disc jockey spun records, and a lot of stepping took place. One of Donna's sisters read a poem, a couple of grandchildren sang, and the Reverend Willard Cofield of Alden Baptist Church played a trumpet solo.

The elderly lady sitting next to me, a former longtime neighbor of the Eddingtons, turned out to be a local freelance writer whose columns I have been reading for years. Right now we are both writing for the same editor. We happily commiserated at some length about the lack of respect afforded to freelancers. Ms. Michaels also entertained us with colorful reminiscences of the entire Eddington family in the '60s and '70s.

At one point during the festivities, Donna chided me for not recognizing her sister-in-law Trina, with whom I had worked briefly a few years ago. A few minutes later, we were arguing about one of her nephews. I said it was Orlando; she said it wasn't. A tablemate called the boy over and asked him his name. "Orlando," he said, and dashed off.

"Well, he looks different with his hair in braids," said Donna, justifying her mistake. Whatever. When you can't even keep track of all the people in it, that's when you know you have a big family.