By Andy Weddington
Sunday, 02 September 2018
Life doesn't last; art doesn't last. It doesn't matter. Eva Hesse
Since President Trump ordered our flag at half-mast to honor Senator John S. McCain, III, so have flown colors on the couple of dozen flagpoles lining the east side of the giant military parade field out our front door.
The flags have hanged still, as in respect.
The flags have wildly whipped, as in anger.
The flags have gently waved, as in peace and salute.
The flags this stormy morning drenched and whipping, as in obedience.
Thirty-two years ago Headquarters Marine Corps (HQMC) ordered me from Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, to the University of Mississippi for duty as the Marine Officer Instructor on the Naval ROTC staff. I reported to the Commanding Officer in McCain Hall (named for the late Senator's grandfather - John S. McCain, Sr. - a Navy admiral of WWII fame).
Last evening on Nebraska Educational Television aired an exceptional two-hours American Masters program on the artist Eva Hesse.
Ms. Hesse was 48 days younger than my dad. She died on the same date - 11 January - but 44 years earlier. She was 34.
Senator McCain was born seven months after Ms. Hess. He died 48 years after her. Both were killed by brain tumor.
I see connections in most everything in life; and don't (yet) understand why.
Ms. Hesse was a monster talent. She saw the world differently. Her drawing, painting, and sculpting incredible though more so her productivity. She was a maverick (a term used to describe McCain) trail breaker and blazer - a leader.
My dad was a monster talent. He, too, saw the world differently - in 0s and 1s. And he was a talent with pencil and paintbrush. He was a maverick of sort - a trail breaker and blazer - a leader. A patent or two (held by IBM) still shape our world. Dad's name not famous.
Rather sad I was the day he died; and still.
Rather sad I felt to learn Ms. Hesse died so young.
Sad not a sentiment when learning of McCain's death.
The word funeral has two full (7-letter) anagrams: flaneur; frenula.
From Merriam-Webster ...
flaneur: n. an idle man-about-town
frenula: n. a connecting fold of membrane serving to support or restrain a part (as the tongue)
Tongues failed restraint yesterday at two funerals - McCain and Aretha Franklin. Speakers, going low, disparaged our sitting President.
Big events went small.
Good grief (but not really).
Consider Senator McCain, touted as an aisle-crosser and peacemaker, disinvited (to his services) two significant political figures - Sarah Palin (2008 running mate) and President Trump.
A leadership trait nor principle not crossed comes to mind.
In eulogy McCain was failed. And, of note, true to character, Barack Obama (McCain's 2008 opponent) talked about his favorite person - himself.
Consider Aretha Franklin, singer of R E S P E C T, was honored by disrespectful comments about President Trump.
She was a fine artist. Leadership another matter. In eulogy she, too, was failed.
These two Americans, in death, go out not as giants but midgets.
Does it matter?
Tomorrow our flag, again, flies high.
I will make it a point to stand on the porch in the morning and look across the parade field; proud, while it lasts, to be alive, an American, a veteran, and an artist.
Post Script: Previous commentary: A tough young man still fighting a brain tumor. His family - Navy.