life and death . . .

by mulberryshoots

The weather has been so graceful lately: a little rain each day followed by sun and soft breezes. The garden is definitely doing well with this kind of cool growing weather. I planted a stand of white iris called “gull’s wing” yesterday along with two bareroot climbing roses by the barn. Today I will mend the trailing strings so that the morning glory plants will have something more stable to cling to as they make their way upwards over the summer.

Today, being Sunday, I have loitered longer than usual, reading the New York Times with my coffee. “Union Rags”, the horse that won the Belmont Stakes by a nose was owned by Phyllis Wyeth, whose husband is Jamie Wyeth, the painter son of Andrew Wyeth, one of America’s uber-painters. Apparently, Phyllis had sold the horse and then bought him back for three times what she had sold him for. So, yesterday was a day of triumph for her, a change of jockey apparently making the difference between winning the Belmont Stakes and placing seventh in the Kentucky Derby a few weeks ago.

Confined to a wheelchair after a car accident long ago, Phyllis Wyeth’s name conjured up memories I had having read about N.C. Wyeth, Andrew’s father, and Andrew’s own turbulent marriage to Betsy Wyeth, Jamie’s mother. Still living, Betsy is thought to have been both a muse and a stern comptroller of Andrew’s art.

Betsy is quoted as commenting that the strict order and control of her homes (in Chadds Ford and in Maine) were a response to the “inner chaos” she experienced within herself. Although known primarily as an illustrator rather than a painter, N.C.’s death along with his grandson, their stalled car hit by a train was described as mysterious, due to N.C.’s amorous crush on the grandson’s mother, the wife of his own son named N.C.

My goodness! all these reflections coming out of a horse race and the dynamics of owners, their lives, families, the intertwinings of generations of intense people leading intense lives. Maybe the chaos that lies within is something many of us experience in one way or another. Some may deal with it with passivity because they are afraid what it might unleash if not tamped down all the time. Others may ignore it altogether, choosing to will themselves into lives bent on pleasing those around them as a way of feeling worthwhile.

I’ve not pleased a whole lot of other people in my life, it seems. At the same time, I feel that I have at least been honest, for better or for worse. Is that what life and death is about? I wonder.