Thursday, June 7, 2012

One Less Ray of Hopefulness

Ray Bradbury, 91, died yesterday. His passing leaves our universe just a little smaller. He was a literary force of nature to such a large extent that it's only in reading his obit that I was forced to remember he was so many other people and all of those jobs were so much more important not just to him but to the world.

He was the husband of Marguerite “Maggie” Susan McClure for fifty-six years (!) until her death in 2003 and father to four daughters, Susan Marguerite, Ramona, Bettina and Alexandra and grandfather of eight.

Yesterday's reports were filled with discussions of his work but he was so much more than his work as multitudinous and brilliant as they were (read this-you already have-but read it today). And yet, because so many of us have a 'favorite' Bradbury story (such as the one in the previous sentence), adding them all together, in a way, extends and expands his scale and scope. I suspect, based on everything I've ever read by him and about him he would have little of the sentiment and none of the logic of this at all.

I am another traveler on the Big Blue Marble who never met him but who was touched by his work and in particular one story from his marvelous-beyond-words collection of short stories, Martian Chronicles. It was the only one I ever read aloud to my children when they were very small and we all lived in Germany a long time ago. I doubt they remember it-it was a very long time ago.

Because I found it to be so achingly sad I used to read it in English though they spoke only German so that they wouldn't be sad, too. They would laugh loudly in delight at the variety of voices I would have to concentrate to use and all the sound effects I would have to attempt to capture the atmosphere and poignancy.

That was the trick I used to not be too sad, all the mechanical work of reading aloud to my captive audience with words not my own. They would clap happily when, after reading the last line, I would snap the book quickly shut, startling them even though we did it every night. I'd kiss them goodnight, sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and turn out the tischlampe. Dunkel night-time would descend.

I thought of that moment-I had no will of my own, actually, the memory simply arrived, when I saw the news brief of his passing. I'm sorry Mr. Electrico's magic spell wore off before the wonder-Live Forever.We could do worse than to try.
-bill kenny

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