A Burial

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Swamp: an illustration from my upcoming memoir, Arrows Axes and Scythes

By A. G. Moore

This selection is adapted from my upcoming memoir, Arrows Axes and Scythes.

Burial

The move from Krumer’s to Lockwood’s necessitated many adjustments, some positive and some less so. The increased privacy and space were balanced by a cessation of food deliveries. The problem of decreased food supply was exacerbated by an increase in the number of mouths to feed: We began to accumulate pets. Eventually, the number grew to nine. Our pet/food imbalance became a crisis as the animals starved.

I can state with certainty that my mother asked for none of the animals. She didn’t particularly enjoy having pets, but was a compassionate person. Once a pet had been remitted to her custody, she cared for it. The animals sensed this, and they loved her.

Our pets were a hodgepodge of pedigree and mutt. Some were strays and some were delivered to our door in a misguided attempt to give the pets a home. One of these charges was contributed by my father. He found a huge animal, a St. Bernard/Great Dane mix, rummaging in the garbage behind a restaurant. This “rescued” animal, Boots, became a beloved member of the family.

Another dog was brought to the home by my mother’s brother, Jimmy. Uncle Jimmy was important to the family because he owned three dry cleaning stores in Brooklyn. He regularly gave us abandoned clothes, in excellent condition. These were the core of our school wardrobe. Uncle Jimmy’s Chihuahua, Chico, was no longer welcome in his home. That’s how we got Chico.

With nine dogs in the home, and no regular food supply, my mother tried to manage. Potatoes, delivered by my uncles, were cooked and mashed for human consumption. Peels were for the dogs.

Because hunger was their perpetual companion, the dogs took measures. They foraged in neighbors’ trash. Complaints poured in, but my mother couldn’t control the animals and she couldn’t feed them. So the neighbors, or at least one of them, took their own measures. They poisoned the dogs.

Dogs began to turn up dead. They came home to die. We discovered them in various stages of decay. It was Clinton’s job to bury the deceased, but since this was a family tragedy, everybody pitched in.

With the earth frozen, burial was a particular challenge. Clinton’s solution? A bog, a quicksand pool, he found in the forest. In the picture below, the scene of a burial is depicted, as I recall it. This memory is clear.

We dragged our dog, Hortense, up to the bog. Clinton threw her, as respectfully as he could, onto the mud and we waited for her to disappear. In a very little while the surface was smooth again and Hortense was no more.

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Prologue to Arrows Axes and Scythes

 

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Witness: an illustration from Arrow Axes and Scythes

Below is the Prologue to my upcoming illustrated memoir, Arrow Axes and Scythes.  While the book recalls a time long passed, the influence of those years lasted a lifetime.  The Prologue explains the author’s attempt to convey the emotional content of memory without distorting the essential truth of events.

We are all invisible witnesses. If not for this, how many crimes would be reported?

I think we imagine that children do not see and if they see they do not understand. We reassure ourselves, as we carry on in our imperfect ways, that even if they understand they surely will forget. But the mind is not so dependably careless with its impressions. Many remain for a lifetime.

The events recorded in this book occurred more than fifty years ago, when I was a child. Some memories are lost to me, yet many come back. Are these accurate? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Ideas are not preserved in amber. They are subject to the whims of experience and bias.

My childhood was a time of secrets. Much that is revealed here was never meant to be public. But what I could not say then, will now be told.

At the end of the book one of the personalities, my father, offers testimony for himself. A letter exists in which he describes motivation for his actions. Readers may weigh this evidence and decide for themselves whether or not the document supports my value as a witness.

 

 

 

An excerpt is offered in another blog on this site: A Burial

A Book for Today and Tomorrow: Reflecting

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The desire to memorialize one’s life, to put everything down in writing, tends to grow with age.  But many people do not feel up to the task of creating a book.  Reflecting is designed to enable these people to satisfy their very human impulse to remember, and to be remembered.
The inspiration for the project began with the misfortune of one woman. The woman had suffered a stroke; it seemed her ambition to put together a book that chronicled her life would never be realized.  But a way was found to see this ambition achieved.  Miscellaneous essays, poems and photos were collected. These were organized into an anthology, which was published.
The simple act of publishing cheered the author as no one and nothing had managed to do up to that point. The lesson learned was this: ministering to the body may be a doctor’s work but ministering to the heart may require attention of a different sort.
And so Reflecting was born. It grew out of the conviction that with guidance, just about anyone can write a book, and writing the book can be richly rewarding. The challenge was to design a template that would gently lead the novice author through different stages of recollection and recording. This template would have to be accessible, so that even individuals with limited function could follow its many small steps on  to crafting a cohesive document.
On its most basic level, the Reflecting template requires an individual to provide simple answers to simple questions.  In the aggregate these answers and questions will offer insight into the author’s life.  Photos, sprinkled throughout, will complement verbal responses.
At a more advance level, completion of Reflecting provides opportunity for explanation, exploration and illumination of an individual’s life.  And, at its most ambitious, Reflecting will be the foundation for a comprehensive, traditional memoir.
One of the most important goals of Reflecting is to encourage communication. Remembering a life need not be a solitary exercise. Family and friends can be drawn into stimulating conversations about events long forgotten. Moments that might have been spent in awkward silence can now be invested in completing the book. When it’s completed, the book will be a gift to all who participated in its creation, and to those who did not but are heir to the legacy described in its pages.