Sunday, November 8, 2009

Today marks the 103rd birthday of my beloved grandmother, Louise Brooks Rushing. She has been an inspirational force not only in my life, but in the lives of many. From her I have derived a great love of language, a desire to speak and write with precision and clarity, and an enjoyment of fine literature. It was Lou Lou who first introduced me to poetry at a young age and who inspired her grandchildren (of whom I am honored to be the oldest) to memorize her favorite poems in order to be able to recite them with her. Even now I can close my eyes and hear the cadence of her husky Southern voice as it rises and falls -- the words falling from her lips in a sibilant pattern that draws me in -- and then my voice as it follows hers, faltering, and wavering, but with the nod of her head in encouragement, our voices blending and moving together as we perform the timeless symphony of the works: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Wreck of the Hesperus, Walt Whitman's O Captain, My Captain, William Wordsworth's Daffodils, Oliver Wendell Holmes' The Chambered Nautilus, John Masefield's I Must Go Down to the Sea Again, Edna St. Vincent Millay's Renascence, and Joyce Kilmer's Trees are but a few of the poems I carry with me still.

And tonight, in her honor, I speak aloud one of Lou Lou's favorites:

Rudyard Kipling's L'Envoi:

When Earth's last picture is painted, and the tubes are twisted and dried
When the oldest colors have faded, and the youngest critic has died
We shall rest, and, faith we shall need it--lie down for an aeon or two,
'Til the Master of All Good Workmen shall set us to work anew!

And those that were good will be happy: they shall sit in a golden chair;
They shall splash at a ten-league canvas with brushes of comet's hair;
They shall find real saints to draw from--Magdalene, Peter and Paul;
They shall work for an age at a sitting and never be tired at all!

And only the Master shall praise us, and only the Master shall blame;
And no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame;
But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,
Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of Things as They Are!

Thank you LouLou. Yours is a life well-lived.


  1. Our dear LouLou has touched us all. I am thankful that you were able to capture an aspect of her spirit ... she is a fiesty, full-spirited woman that has loved her family with a fierce passion. Thanks for putting into words what many of us feel.

  2. I am soooooo delighted you've started this blog. And on LouLou's birthday!!! I also posted L'Envoi on her birthday! I will be your biggest fan. Love you much.


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