Monday, November 2, 2009

The First of November, 2009

Posted by Bruce Miller
Yesterday from two until four we said goodbye to Souvenir, and then from six until last call we celebrated the life and legacy of Jack Parrish.

Prior to making it out to Hanover Tavern, I was with my mother at Westminster-Canterbury. She’s a 93-year old with advanced Alzheimer’s and she was having a bad day. I was called in by the nurses to try to calm her down, to stop her screaming and fighting, to bring her back to this world from the terrifying places to which her disease takes her from time to time.

Just before visiting Westminster, I team-taught with Katy Sproul (Firehouse actress Amy Sproul’s mom) our Sunday School class at Bon Air Pres, as I do every week. The topic was gun control, and our class decided to try to persuade our church, and other churches, to take a stand on closing the gun show loophole here in Virginia and nationally.

It was a roller coaster of a day.

Politics can be so polarizing. All of us are demeaned and diminished when we allow ourselves to be manipulated into corners and fail to come together for the common good.

Disease can also force us into isolated corners—making us feel alone and afraid. Doctors and nurses, despite their many skills and heartfelt care, cannot always pull us back from these dark places. But even on these bad days, "family" can usually make a difference.

True performers like Florence Foster Jenkins (and thank you, Debra and Jonathan for bringing her true story to life in Souvenir) refused to be relegated to a corner. Relying on the strength of her intentions, Ms Jenkins transformed self-doubt into confidence, self-effacement into assertiveness, convinced that it is only through truly sharing innermost gifts and selves that any of us will bring joy and community to others.

Jack Parrish also knew this strength and these intentions. He lived his life center stage. He loved his family and friends. He threw himself into each new adventure. He embraced Shakespeare’s magnificent advice to the players, so beautifully recited last night by James Ricks. In the whirlwind of his passion, Jack acquired and begat a temperance that gave it smoothness.

Jack's friends by the hundreds gathered again last night to honor his legacy in different cities around the world. Jokes and songs, toasts and memories filled with truth even if, sometimes, a little fuzzy on accuracy. Testament to a life well lived. Tribute to all those who come together, join together to bring fullness, not fretting, to this brief hour upon the stage.

God bless Jack and Florence, my mother and my Sunday School class. God bless us every one.

--Bruce Miller

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