12 April 2020

A Letter to the Editor by Tom Ironsides: Celebrate Life & Hug Your Children

Dear Mr. McCart:
Greetings. I do not think we have ever met, such are my strange interactions with the "real" world. I was asked to write something for you publication by our mutual friend, Perrin Lovett, whom I have cc'd if for no other reason than to stem his incessant pestering. It is my understanding that he is working on another of his usual columns for next week (and, for that, I am blameless). The attached submission (DOC and PDF) is not what I gather he was interested in. However, as noted in the letter, it kind of sprang into my heart more than my mind. While it is admittedly a little out of my character as some know it, I hope it is sufficiently interesting. If so, then I concluded it with a brief bio, lifted from my college faculty page (my apologies, but the picture would not transfer). The title, while provided by me, is ultimately your call. I ask only that my email address or other direct contact information NOT be included with the letter.
As an aside, Mrs. Tuggle's weekly work is always interesting and delightful. Please pass that message along to her. The rest is certainly ... something. Thank you.
Tom Ironsides
PS: Go Cavs!


Celebrate Life And Hug Your Children
Dr. Thomas H. Ironsides, II

Dear Mr. McCart and Friends:

My acquaintance and your colleague, Mr. Lovett, asked or begged me to write something regarding late events, both biological and geo-political. Some of my experience and opinion I understand he has recently relayed, and more of which I believe he is currently imagining. Personally, I have just about had it with my house arrest, which to my great credit, I have been breaking on a regular basis. No apologies to Sheriff Hagaman. So, of that, I have little more to say or to think. Instead, as I was instructed to write “from the heart,” I will tell you a story. It’s a little late in coming back to my mind, however, it is perfectly fitting for this Easter Season.

On the afternoon of Friday, February the 14th, I was entertaining myself in the quaint downtown of my adopted Blowing Rock. Happening upon the wonderful Art and History Museum, and having never ventured therein, I decided to peruse the galleries. Immediately, I stumbled upon what I at first took for a community party. Soon, I realized it was a public wake for a local dignitary. Someone informed me that it was not, in fact, a funeral; rather, it was a celebration. And so, I would like to share some of that experience and brave spirit with you.

The woman of the hour, of the day, was a little girl. Her name was Bexley Svana Moffat and she was only a few months into the ripe young age of two years when she unexpectedly succumbed to leukemia. Please read her unusual and heartening obituary, as linked, courtesy of the Austin and Barnes Funeral Home: 

According to Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital, approximately American 3,000 children are diagnosed with leukemia every year. Around ninety percent enter into remission and are effectively cured within ten years of the onset of aggressive treatment. Why is the minority taken by this accursed disease? Most can imagine the horror of losing a precious baby. Some of us, unfortunately, know the shock and lasting pain, first-hand. In dread times such as these, we do well to remember our temporal existence in and on the physical Earth. As hard as it is to fathom, sometimes the little ones are more needed elsewhere. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14. 

Well, from the very little I know, and as you may readily gather from that infectious photograph, it is a much brighter day in Heaven. That face and especially those big, blue eyes say, “Hello! I’m sweet though a bundle of fun trouble!” The parting message left for us first-person by Bexley, notes that among the things she loved the most were her mommy and daddy, her grandparents, and her puppies. You just know each was the world among the others. 

It’s fascinating, to me, that I write about this brief encounter, particularly as I consider its context in my life. Why am I still here? For decades, I walked hand-in-hand, as a partner, with death. My own demise could have easily found me a hundred times over and yet it did not. I surmise the Almighty must require bubbly sweethearts more urgently than gruff, stubborn jarheads. (Who could blame Him?) And I could have told you a similar story about Gloria, but after thirty years, my words still fail me. I trust Bexley understands both my ponderings and my discourse.

This adorable little stranger-friend whom I never knew has given me the strength and the joy to look upon otherwise unspeakable tragedy as the celebration of the eternal. For this Miracle, I might deem her Saint Bexley (though I think she is not one for formal pretense).

I leave you with the following thoughts: our days, currently, have about them a bleak disposition. Some of us are sick. Some are scared. Some are unemployed. We lack a certain direction or purpose. Yet, it is all but temporary tribulation. Just as the Mightiest Son rose for us, so the smallest daughter helps us to raise our darkened spirits. So, right now, go on and hug your children - of any age. Leave a social distance between you that you couldn’t slip a piece of paper through. 

Thank you and may God bless you,

Tom Ironsides

[dthi/fac.jpg] Dr. Thomas H. Ironsides, II (Ph.D., Harvard) is Professor of Classics at Saint Thomas of Aquino College. When not teaching Roman philosophy and culture, he is also President of the American Classical Education (ACE) Center. He previously retired as a Paramilitary Operations Officer and Acting Deputy Director of the Special Activities Division, National Clandestine Service, United States Central Intelligence Agency and as a Colonel with the United States Marine Corps. Given his experiences, he is adamantly opposed to gratuitous warfare and attendant international usury. Currently, with an aching back and sore thumbs, he attempts to build by hand a small cabin.