Two Anniversary Days, Defining Eloquence

This is an anniversary day for me and Alice, my wife. Fifty-four years ago we married. Fifty-six days, or, eight weeks ago, she died. Her last earthly act was to make me an egg-salad sandwich and bring it to me. She sat down in the living room a few steps away to have a fatal stroke.

I mourn loudly with abandon in the emptiness of our home. I have never known this height of sorrow, or its depth. In the theatre, the tragic moan may be heard portrayed by an actor. I remember one great one, in the Alistair Sim portrayal of Scrooge, when escorted by the spirit of the future, scrooge sees at his feet a slab on a grave showing his name. He collapses there with the tragic moan that breaks his humbugging Christmas to everyone. I wonder if people passing my house have heard my tragic moan, and wondered about the strange old man inside who is now living alone. Kids passing might make up tales about that strange old man in that house eighty-five ancient and still skin-and-bone alive. I must keep that moan under a lid. I remember one old guy in my home town; kids would roll rocks onto his porch.

I must check that “last earthly act” sentence and tell of the absolute final act before death. She expressed it eloquently.

Eloquence has been defined as fluent, forcible, elegant or persuasive speaking. It is primarily the power of expressing strong emotions in striking and appropriate language, thereby producing conviction or persuasion. The term is also used for writing in a fluent style.

I have always had an ear and eye for the phenomenon of “eloquence”. I look for it everywhere it matters most, in the public speaking of mighty figures of government, in speakers in certain of our public ceremonies. Eloquence shivers the mind of the hearer with a mental twitch that great beauty has been thrust down on you when you have least expected it. The mind has had an awakening to something magnificent.

What is the mind that handles such an experience? The “mind”, it seems to me, is the entire collection of all of one’s individual, life experiences, rolled into one whole organized body of memory, ready to be accessed at any stimulation sensed coming from the environment.

You have one pleasure center in the mind for sounds that evoke beautiful memories of people, places and other things. Those beauties are all together and can be instantly stimulated by a high quality sound or sight or touch, among all the ten senses of which human beings are capable, the five exteroceptors (sight, sound, touch, taste or smell) and the five interoceptors (pain, balance, pressure, temperature, or kinesthesis). Perception through one or some combination of those ten will give an overall response that becomes the grand pleasure of “eloquence” in the beauty of words spoken or gestures observed and felt physically with almost unbelievably overwhelming, emotional stimulation making you feel extremely good. That comes from “eloquence” of an expression, some from poetry, some from musical melody, or in some expressions of a vocal quality in singing or speaking.

My wife, incapable of speaking, in dying squeezed my hand and nudged me with her left foot.


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4 CommentsLeave a comment

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  3. I mourn your loss, John. No person can ever know the full depth of another’s grief, but I can intuit what mine would be. Keep writing.

    • Thank you, Linda. You never met her, I know, but when I say she was a gem, I refer to the most precious and priceless on Earth. My belief system precludes my ever seeing her again. You might say, “Then change your beliefs, idiot!” Well, what’s integrity for? However, I found myself toying with the idea and meaning of “God”, for the first time in many years. But I still believe that “God” is an invention of people in deep trouble, and that is people just about everywhere and at all times, for the most significant and insignificant motives. I have come to picture “God” as that great chess-master contemplating a master-board with incoming moves by the billions. “God” would have to be all that they say he/she/it is. But I wish that I could be with her again, though I know it ain’t gonna happen.

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