Saturday, December 29, 2007

Monday Dec 29

Home early, and
later in evening, visited
Lena's and Jean's new

My prayer now is to
get a good wife and that
I may be able to build for her
such a beautiful home.


Matt's Notes

I'm tempted once again to read Papa's diary like a novel, but of course I know cousin Jean, who opened the year by diagnosing Papa as "in love with love," isn't written into this entry for a closing bow, nor is Papa's prayer for "a good wife" a deliberate echo of his January 1st vow to find "a girl (of my dreams) with a vision to see also the good things that are in me."

Still, I suppose it's understandable, after a year of shadowing Papa's life, for me to look in his diary's final pages for a dramatic conclusion, a shift, or just a cagey, oblique glimpse of whatever would transform him from the heartsick dreamer he was in 1924 into the serene and satisfied man he would become.

Such transformative moments are not, of course, to be found in most diaries or in most lives. Still, in this entry we do at least find an example of what we've always known about Papa. When he visits his cousins and sees their beautiful new homes (two-bedroom apartments in Williamsburg, perhaps?) he does not envy them or begrudge them their accomplishments. He simply hopes to have what they have, to get what he wants, so he can offer it to someone else.

This devotion to the happiness of others, this privately-stated need to give of himself, is also not to be found in most diaries or in most lives. Papa wrote about it this late in the year only incidentally; it always was and always would be there. Forgive me, though, if on December 29th I think it feels something like an ending.

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