Entropy is defined as the inherent tendency toward the dissipation of energy. Whether it be atoms in a molecule or the cycle of life, at some point the energy gives out. Entropy is why everything we know is so fragile. Ebb and flow, equal and opposite reaction, call it what you will, nothing stays the same. It’s just a matter of time and change will happen.
My maternal grandmother died when she was thirty. She had contracted tuberculosis in a time when there was no real cure other than rest and cool mountain breezes.
Although her Mother and Father were taller and sturdier built, she was petite almost frail looking. After early years on the farm and graduating from the one room school house there she moved to town to continue her education. She graduated from the local college in 1918. She studied music and was an accomplished pianist. It is believed that she may have contracted TB while in college since she was on track to graduate in 1916.
While in college she met my Grandfather. They took their meals in the same local restaurant so the story goes. He was older and a widower, losing his first wife in childbirth. He co-owned a men’s haberdashery and was always smartly attired. Another story goes that he drove a Stutz-Bearcat automobile. Somehow the sparks flew and they were eventually married. Theirs should have been a long and happy marriage.
In 1919 my aunt was born and my father came along in 1922. After the birth of my father, the tuberculosis returned and soon my grandmother was whisked far away to a sanitarium in the Pocono Mountains. She died there in 1924.
My father was just two and my aunt nearly 5. Once again my grandfather was a widower. For sometime, they all lived with my grandmother’s parents. Well cared for and loved, my father had a good and happy childhood. While he never really knew his mother, he still missed her.
Her loss has carried forward. One can only wonder how different life would have been had she lived. There are so many gaps in our family history she could have helped to explain. It’s not until you think about how different it would have been had they lived, that you begin to realize what you lost.
Every family has a similar story. My Mother’s grandfather was murdered for his pay as he got off the streetcar one snowy Friday in 1914. A few years later, her aunt left her own 3 small children at home with their father and went to take care of a sick family on the neighboring farm. She caught the flu from them and became one of the casualties of the Spanish flu epidemic that worldwide, left 25 million people dead . Both left an huge empty space.
Life is fragile. If wrapping bubble wrap and marking ourselves with “handle with care” stickers would help, I think we would all try it. The important thing is to recognize that care needs to be taken, and we need to respect and enjoy every moment of every fragile day.