Friday, July 23, 1999

Memoriam: Miriam Jenkins Barlow Bailey

Like a spaceship fueling its engines before take off, the Internet has sparked a culture and industry that feeds off, and thrives on, super-sonic speeds and dynamism. It’s also a culture and industry that is youth influenced and driven. Coupling this phenomenon with Northern America’s youth-driven culture, we often over look our sages and the valuable resources of our earlier generations. I, for one, have taken much pleasure and delight in learning and speaking with my grandparents, and when the opportunity arises with other seniors when I volunteer with senior programs. There is much to be learned from our elders, and at the very least, it can be enriching to learn how they used to court, shop, socialize and work.

And when one of them passes away, it marks an occasion to reflect on Life, our life, their life and valuing precious people, times, challenges and joys.

A vertible institution himself, the great woman (and institution) behind the great man -- John Perry Barlow -- is Miriam Jenkins Barlow Bailey. John’s mother died a few weeks ago and he sent a moving tribute about her to friends, and granted me permission to reprint it with her picture.

John wrote: “My mother was immense, *much* larger than life. No one who met her came away untouched - or unscathed, as the case may have been. She has kept an electric tension on a line that ran through the center of my life all its course. Now, all at once, that line's gone slack. The world is suddenly a far less interesting place. Some years ago, shortly after his own mother died, John Kennedy, Jr. mused to me, 'I don't think anyone really becomes an adult until both of his parents are dead.' Now I'm starting to understand what he meant. …”

How sadly ironic that John quotes his friend JFK, Jr., who he (in addition to the rest of the world) has had to say goodbye to also. I saw Mr. Barlow on television talking about his friendship with JFK, Jr. this past week, and can only think of how the world does seems a far less interesting place when one loses someone dear. Death is a great and final tragedy, but as John and as JFK, Jr. both indicate, it’s a release, a dawning and forces us to grow up a little more, straighten our back, lift our chin and go boldly forward as an “adult.”

God Bless Miriam Jenkins Barlow Bailey, John F. Kennedy Jr., Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and Lauren Bessette. May they all go forth in peace and may we all breathe a bit deeper today in appreciation of our gift of Life.

In Memoriam, Miriam Jenkins Barlow Bailey (Oct. 24, 1905 - July 10, 1999)
Do not cry, do not cry with anguished moans,
for that is a pit a demon has dug, and only that is sad.
When you see a procession, don't cry, "gone, gone!"
For me it is a time of meeting and reunion.
As you lower me into the grave, don't say, "So long."
The grave is a veil before the gathering of paradise.
When you see that lowering down, consider a rising.
What harm is there in the setting of a sun or moon?
What seems a setting to you is a dawning.
Though it may seem a prison,
this vault releases the soul.
What seed goes into the earth and does not grow?

More about Miriam Jenkins Barlow Bailey at: