Archive | June 2018

Finding Beauty when Difficulties Arise

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Photograph from the movie, Babette’s Feast

“In a world of disaster and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted. Only artistic excellence is incorruptible. Pleasure cannot be bargained down. And sometimes the meal is the only currency that is real.”

Elizabeth Gilbert,  Eat, Pray, Love

This Is A Beautiful Woman, VIII

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December 16, 1960 Rehearsal Dinner for Kaye and Her Knight in Shining Armor

Right to left: Sunny, Ralph, and Kaye’s Cousin

Life with Father – Kaye’s Chosen Father, That Is

Although both Sunny and Ralph obviously enjoyed each other’s company from the beginning, no one would call it a whirlwind courtship. After all, they both were responsible adults with demanding jobs and limited free time. Sunny’s younger son still lived at home. Besides, Dallas was a two-and-a-half to a three-hour drive from Temple.  Since both had grown or almost grown children, there were additional serious considerations that young singles don’t even contemplate.

However, Kaye and Ralph kept developing their friendship with occasional lunches out at various Temple restaurants. These meetings often included discussions about the boys she was dating.  Kaye quickly learned to detect approval or disapproval through fleeting facial expressions and probing questions. Those questions usually helped her see possible flaws that she should consider before getting too involved.

She also got a taste of his extreme generosity at one lunch in a local two-bit cafe that he frequented enough to know the waitress personally. Once when she was away from the table, he quietly explained that she was a single mother with two grade school children trying to make ends meet. When the waitress returned, he asked about the children and offered a small tidbit of fatherly advice. As they left the restaurant, Kaye happened to see the bill and realized that his tip was more than the cost of the meal. 

During Kaye’s senior year, she met the man she felt certain would be her “knight in shining armor.” So within weeks Kaye, her “knight,” and her “chosen” father met in Dallas so Sunny could meet him too. The two generation foursome doubled dated that Saturday for a lovely evening of dinner and dancing. Everyone passed the first test — and many subsequent tests, double dates, and family gatherings. In December of 1960, after Kaye had graduated and had begun her teaching career, Ralph gave her away to her “knight” at their small, family  wedding in Belton. 

Perhaps one of the reasons it took Ralph and Sunny such a long time to walk down the aisle themselves is that they had so little time alone. When in Dallas, Sunny’s mother, son, and some of her friends were nearly always included in their “dates.” When they were in Temple or at the hunting lease for a weekend, Ralph’s friends and family were invariably present, day and night. Actually their courtship lasted long enough for Sunny to pick out her own friends and feel entirely at home even before moving  to Temple and settling in.

Once married  Sunny quickly changed her role from executive assistant to the president of a small company to that of supportive wife for the owner of a somewhat larger company.  Privately, she loved giving elegant dinners for his friends and business acquaintances. In fact, she became a legend in her own time for gracious hospitality. Other wives in town soon began to emulate her distinctive menus,  memorable decorations, and refreshing approach to entertaining others. She also traveled with him on his frequent business trips across the US, always easing any awkward situations and making friends with difficult people. 

 

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Bell County Junior Livestock Show 

Publicly, back in Temple, she devoted much time and attention to furthering his charitable goals by assisting local children. Ralph always had a soft spot in his heart for them. He never failed to support the high school band, the 4-H club, or the Future Farmers of America group whether they were from Temple or from one of the surrounding small towns. But his biggest soft spot was for The Boys Club in Temple. In fact he gave land near his plant and built a building for it before it officially became the Boys and Girls Club of Temple. He also left provisions and instructions for the club in his will to assure its longevity.

Neither Kaye nor her older brother had any idea whether Ralph’s will included them or not. But after their mother’s marriage, they both approached him privately to ask that he not leave anything to her children. Their desire was for  their mother to never worry about money again. Besides, they wanted to maintain friendly relationships with his children long after his death. All of Sunny’s children were both healthy and educated and strongly believed they could face whatever life threw their way.

Unfortunately, that will was probated much too soon. In 1972 Sunny became a widow for the second time in her life. 

After Ralph’s funeral, none of the family could count how many people had come forward to personally tell of ways that Ralph had helped them in time of need, like paying off unexpected medical bills, defraying the cost of car repairs, or even liquidating obligations to a local loan shark.  When any of them came back to repay him, he always refused. Nearly all of these stories were news to the family because he had never mentioned any of these financial adventures. Sometimes the person had asked for help. Sometimes Ralph realized they were in trouble and offered to help on his own. 

Once again, after the funeral and the company had cleared out, Sunny faced life without a husband, but with many happy memories. Fortunately this time, neither children nor finances were a big problem. She bravely started out again on a new path of additional civic, church, and charitable work. For the first time ever, she joined women’s clubs, finding several in Temple that appealed to her interests.  She still entertained a lot. She took each of her grandchildren, one at a time, to Europe with a local tour group. With the blessing of energy and good health, she lived comfortably alone for another forty years.

But finally the time came to close up shop. So she moved all the way to Montana to live with her youngest child, fulfilling the long-standing Southern custom of the youngest taking care of the elderly parent(s). And there she started another new life, this time coping with the vagaries of old age: loss of vision, mobility, and impaired hearing. But she is cheerful, polite, and eager to compliment others, just like she’s always been. She still faces life like a determined sheep herder from the Llano Estacado. 

Copyright 2018 by Kaye Fairweather 

 

This Is A Beautiful Woman: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/1877

This Is A Beautiful Woman, II: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/1882

This Is A Beautiful Woman, III: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/1893

This Is A Beautiful Woman, IV: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/1907

This Is A Beautiful Woman, V: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/2025

This Is A Beautiful Woman, VI: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/2039

This Is A Beautiful Woman,  VII: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/2046

This Is A Beautiful Woman, VIII: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/2090

This Is A Beautiful Woman, IX: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/2146

Beauty Enthralls The Observer

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Photograph by Lucas Kloeppel, courtesy of Pexels

“Have you ever been so struck by the beauty of a sunset that just for a moment you lose all sense of time? Everything else just fades away and just for that instant, the only thing that mattered to you in the entire world, was that sunset. It was a moment that transcended the mere passing of seconds. You may even have felt something you could only describe as homesickness.”

Deacon Lawrence Klimecki: “Beauty Is Transcendent” at

https://www.thewayofbeauty.org/blog/2018/5/beauty-is-transcendent

 

Learning from Beauty

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Photograph courtesy of Pexels

“There is objective beauty in the world. It can tell us about God, and it can tell us much about ourselves and our place in creation.”

 

Deacon Lawrence Klimecki: “Beauty Is Transcendent” at

https://www.thewayofbeauty.org/blog/2018/5/beauty-is-transcendent

 

“Theia Mania” Can Be Beautiful

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The picture above is the front cover of a CD

that the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra sold to the public

to commemorate Robert Shaw’s 100th birthday.

It is a recording of a live performance, not a studio production.

As a long time Robert Shaw fan, I was delighted when the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra began selling this CD of a live concert in honor of his would-be one hundreth birthday in 2016. I had become aware of the Robert Shaw Chorale while in college and had managed to snag a couple of their vinyl records even during those impecunious years. I was especially impressed that he was a self taught musician and conductor and yet he had already made a dramatic impact on the American cultural scene.

Imagine how delighted I was when he  not only “followed” me to Atlanta in 1967, but also immediately proceeded to transform our newly shared music world while also raising funds for and building the Woodruff Arts Center. 

Another reason I bought one of the first Commemorative CD’s available was that it was a recording of an ASO performance very similar to one that I had attended in 1984. I will never forget the exultation of the audience at the end of that particular rendition of Beethoven’s Ninth. I remember well how good it felt to clap, and clap, and clap, and clap.  I actually wished that I had learned how to whistle because “Bravo” just wasn’t quite enough. And, for the first time I, the ultimate prim and proper introvert, had understood people who jumped onto their chair seats or out into the aisles so they could express their joy more dramatically. I have no idea how long the applause lasted. I just remember that it didn’t end until Mr. Shaw asked the audience to please let them go, “because there’s just nothing more for us to give after this.”

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This is the back side of the Commemorative CD. Please note the last entry of content, number 5:  eight minutes and 41 seconds of applause recorded at the end of the concert. Remember this audience was composed of staid, dressed-up, classical music lovers that many might consider somewhat stuffy individuals. They were sandwiched together in an auditorium after a laborious bout with Atlanta’s infamous traffic. In other words, they were a stressed out bunch of people as the concert began. It was not a crowd of young people mellowed out after smoking weed and drinking at an all afternoon picnic/concert.

It’s now standard for the classical music audience to rise when applauding at the end of a concert to express gratitude for the evening’s entertainment. But, it’s usually a somewhat dutiful applause, as people quickly begin glancing around the room to decipher just the  how soon they can start gathering their things to leave for dinner or after dinner drinks and still be polite.

This eight-plus minute recording of applause also records people shouting “Bravo,” whistling, and demanding yet another curtain call from the conductor. This is a modern example of the Theia Mania we first read about in Plato when a single person or a group has been freed from ordinary concerns and aspirations, then lifted emotionally and spiritually to a higher level by the beauty of the scenery, a piece of art, a musical performance, or a theatrical production. At least for a few minutes, the audience and the creators become one in a joyous unity.

*****

For more information about Theia Mania, relating to the arts such as poets, sculptors, artists, musicians, performers, and audiences, listen to Robert Reilly’s lecture on Josef Pieper’s monograph, Divine Madness, Plato Against Secular Humanism, to a group at the Institute of Catholic Culture: https://instituteofcatholicculture.org/talk/divine-madness/

PS: Through the centuries, diverse groups have used theia mania to describe lots of weird events. But today I’m siding more with Josef Pieper,  to wit:

“Such patrimony is achieved and preserved only through a willingly accepted openness: openness for divine revelation, for the salutary pain of catharsis, for the recollecting power of the fine arts, for the emotional shock brought about by eros and caritas — in short, through the attitude rooted in the mysterious experience that Plato called theia mania.” (or Divine Madness)

Another PS: Yes, the CD is worth buying from ASO and it’s not that expensive.  But, it’s not as good as vinyl – or the real concert.  CD’s are great, but they’re a pale imitation of the real thing.

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A Surgeon Speaks of Beauty

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Alexis Carrel (1873 – 1944) was a French surgeon from Lyon who received the 1912 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

He developed a method to suture blood vessels together end-to-end with a minimum of stitches. This technique became essential for many surgical operations, including the transplantation of blood vessels and organs. Beginning in 1904, he worked at the University of Chicago School of Medicine and the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research before returning to Paris in 1939 to serve as director of the French Foundation for the Study of Human Problems.

“Beauty is one of mankind’s greatest needs.”

 

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Photo courtesy of 

Panoramio 

“Indeed, beauty is one of mankind’s greatest needs; it is the root from which the branches of our peace and the fruits of our hope come forth. Beauty also reveals God because, like him, a work of beauty is pure gratuity; it calls us to freedom and draws us away from selfishness….In this masterpiece, Gaudí [the architect] shows us that God is the true measure of man; that the secret of authentic originality consists, as he himself said, in returning to one’s origin which is God. Gaudí, by opening his spirit to God, was capable of creating in this city a space of beauty, faith and hope which leads man to an encounter with him who is truth and beauty itself.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

speaking at The Basilica of The Holy Family in Barcelona, Spain 

Construction began on this church in 1882 and is expected to be completed by 2026. Antoni Gaudi, the major architect, combined Gothic and Art Nouveau forms to create his masterpiece. Since his death in 1926, construction has continued with other designers except during the Spanish Civil War. The words from Benedict XVI were taken from his homily in 2010 when he consecrated the completed portion as a minor basilica.