A Gray or Grey Morning

Madeleine L’Engle once commented that while gray and grey are the same word (with the former being the U.S. spelling and the latter being British), they evoked very different colors (colours?) for her. They do for me as well, which is probably why I remember the comment. I think of gray as pale and silvery — like my hair, which went from the auburn of my youth to its present state, where I’m occasionally mistaken for blond. Grey is darker, like the slate tiles of my downstairs floor. Iron, storm clouds, the sea as those clouds approach? Definitely grey.

As our unsettled weather continues here in Mondoville, the sky is gray, and may darken later. But I’m having a grey day. My foot isn’t ready for purposeful walking yet, and although it’s healing, I’m getting antsy. I have an eye exam this afternoon, but while I tend to be a little photophobic anyway, flinching or squinting against the exam light, I know they’re going to do dilations today, which take things from unpleasant to painful.

But these are minor points. Today would have been my father’s 74th birthday. As I said at the trial, a son is supposed to admire his father, and I was fortunate in having a dad who made that easy. And even now, I admire Dad greatly — he did his best under difficult circumstances, rising from an adolescence in the Nashville projects with a dying father and drug-addicted mother to a successful career and the respect of his community. He supported the family through my mom’s illness, and through three bouts of cancer, the first of which he was told would likely be fatal. He wrote well; he painted well. And although he struggled with the bouts of depression that I have seen in many bright, creative people, he fought for his life literally to the end — his body revealed that, and his killer acknowledged that, if indirectly.

I miss him, and there are times each day when I wish I could share a joke with him, or talk about what we’re reading, or show him the work I’m doing. It leaves me grey. And this morning, as I hear and read about the horror in Manchester, I ache for the people that I know are hearing the Big Noise, and who have seen the color drain from their worlds. It makes me think of Tennyson:

That loss is common would not make
My own less bitter, rather more:
Too common! Never morning wore
To evening, but some heart did break.

(In Memoriam A.H.H., 6. 5-8)

So it’s a grey day in Mondoville today. They say there will be sun for the weekend. I hope so.

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About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
This entry was posted in Alternating Feet, Culture, Faith, Family, Literature, Why I Do What I Do. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A Gray or Grey Morning

  1. I know what you mean about the spellings. We used to live in a small town in which the high school mascot is the Grey Ghosts. It’s a strange mascor anyway, but the spelling always bothered me. It felt much too dismal. It is a grey day here as well. I am heart sick and overwhelmed. I’m anxious for the clouds to part and am wishing that for you as well.

  2. sallyhandley says:

    Poignant and touching piece.

  3. Emily says:

    Beautiful.
    I always thought of grey as lighter and gray as darker. Regardless, I hope tomorrow is neither gray nor grey for you. …and I’m sure your dad is admiring you from wherever he is.

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