Mark Twain – Epitaph on Daughter’s Stone and Misc. Twain Quotes (Sept. 2015)

Susan's Thursday morning note September 3, 2015
Mark Twain - Epitaph on Daughter's Stone and Misc. Twain Quotes

Good morning!  Coffee is beginning to make it’s way to my fingertips to try to get my thoughts to travel to paper.  Silence.  Beautiful sound of morning silence inside.  Can silence be heard?   Only sign of life outside my window are daring little flying insects creatively avoiding all the stealthily placed spider webs.  Quietly my angel of dawn peers through my glass.  Her smile encouraging me to enter this day.  Now the sound of cocoa being sucked into a mug full colorful straws by my little whose-it added to the scene.  The day is unfolding.  The chance to focus my mind on thoughts worth thinking on today.  Thoughts to focus on finding the beauty of the word called life.

I read an excerpt from a poem this week inscribed on the tombstone of Mark Twain’s 24-year old daughter, Susy Clemens, who died of Spinal Meningitis.   Mark Twain’s first born son had died at the age of 18 months from Diptheria.  His youngest daughter died tragically from an epileptic seizure when she was only 18. 

Twain wrote an unpublished eulogy of his daughter which included was a character description of his daughter Suzy.  “She was a magazine of feelings and they were all kinds and all shades of force; she was so volatile, as a little child, that sometimes the whole battery came into play in the short compass of a day.  She was full of life, full of activity, full of fire, her waking hours were a crowding and hurrying procession of enthusiasms…Joy, sorrow, anger, remorse, storm, sunshine, rain, darkness – they were all there: They came in a moment and they were gone as quickly.  In all things she was intense: in her this characteristic was not a mere glow, dispensing warmth, but a consuming fire.”  Following are the words inscribed on Suzy’s tombstone chosen by her father. 

Warm summer sun
    Shine kindly here,
Warm southern wind,
    Blow softly here.
Green sod above
    Lie light, Lie Light - 
Good night, Dear Heart,
    Good night, Good Night.”   Robert Richardson 1893

As we picture Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer we can glimpse a little more into the man who created these characters.  A man acquainted with intense pain who continually tried to find a place for humor to keep his soul alive.  Following are favorite quotes by Mark Twain.  One of my favorites, “There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy.” 

“Drag your thoughts away from your troubles – by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.” 

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” 

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” 

“We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it – and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again – and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.” 

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.”

“Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.” 

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too can become great.” 

“Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”

“When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear.”

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.”

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”

“A clear conscience is the sure sign of a bad memory.”

“Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?” 

“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.”

“I did not attend his funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” 

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” 

“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.” 

“Books are for people who wish they were somewhere else.” 

“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” 

“What would men be without women? Scarce, sir…mighty scarce.” 

“Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.” 

Thank you for letting me enter your world again this morning.  Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”  Courage to enter our worlds.  To enter our realities.  To continue playing our song called life.  Will we see as children see?  Blessed are the children, for they see God.  Children notice the little bird on the wire.  Children look into eyes.  Children watch the ripples in the puddle.  Children see the dandelion as a beautiful flower to pick as a gift.  Children love simplicity.  Children love touch.  Will we again realize that as time relentlessly passes we can consciously stop a few grains of sand as they pass through our sand-timers?  Capture moments.  Beautiful gifts that children notice.  The eyes of those that care about us.  The eyes of those that need our glance.  Will we give ourselves a moment to look upward?  To glance to the heavens where regardless of our own circumstances peace will be handed to us because of our glimpse.  A promise.  The peace that passes the understanding of any other will be given to us. 

Our angel of dawn is receding into the background.  Our day is now beginning.  Tonight we will have the chance to write a mental epitaph of the moments we will have today, but never be handed again.  We will have moments, discussions, readings, and thoughts worthy of chiseling?  Worthy of recording?  Have a beautiful day.  Thank you for coming into our store for your gifts, for your time away from your own personal stories.  A few moments in our world.  We’ll have the cookies, the coffee, and possibly a book that will change the rest of your life.  Susan

Latin for this week:
calido solis solstitialemwarm summer sun
aspera ad astra – to excellence through effort
Sapere Aude – Dare to know.  Dare to be wise