Letter from the Vineyard 09 20 2022 Of travails, grief and mendacity…

Photo Courtesy of Paul Doherty

Letter from the Vineyard

September 20, 2022

Of travails, grief and mendacity…

There have been a series of lovely late summer late days; warm enough to wear shorts, warm enough to savor everything about summer, not cool enough to turn one to thoughts of fall, not quite yet.

July 24th, I left the store, developed a stomachache, woke the next morning, exhausted, thinking Covid had felled me, moved by Tuesday to fevers and chills, phoned my brother, the doctor, who advised: emergency room.

An inflamed gallbladder, gallstones and pancreatitis is what ailed me.

I was bundled onto a helicopter, flown to Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, where a swarm oversaw the beginning of a four day stay, the Friday removal of my gallbladder, days with three intravenous tubes in my arms, potassium, antibiotics, saline solution, the constant beep of machines, electronic insects surrounding me with their noise, the Friday removal of my gallbladder.

Here I am, six weeks later, mending, some post-op bloodwork wonky, so more tests though I am, I hope, on the final upswing out of this.

The world has continued while I wrestled my health.

One day, Elizabeth II was greeting another Prime Minister, her fifteenth, then doctors were concerned; then she was gone, the diminutive woman who threw a huge shadow over the globe, a result of the history she carried into her reign and the personhood she projected into the world, a character of devotion to her role, one she inherited but to which she had not been born.  She became heir to the throne when her uncle Edward abdicated for Wallis Simpson, and her father came to wear the crown.

She held an amazing grip on us, all of us, in so many parts of the world.  The American flag flies at half mast, for 12 days, longer than for any other foreign leader.  We mourn her.

My dear friend Nick, an Englishman, has lived here for 13 years, went home for the Queen’s funeral, wanting to share in the common grief of his nation.  Elizabeth had been on the throne all his life.

The line to walk past her casket was five miles long, five miles of humanity, waiting as much as 20 hours for a glimpse of the casket.  Soccer superstar David Beckham waited 13 hours to pay his respects. The queen’s children have stood vigil, as have her grandchildren.

There was a live feed available from the BBC to see the throngs passing her coffin, some crying, many bowing their heads, some doing a curtsy, often a slightly dazed look on their faces, disbelieving the Queen is no more.

All seemed a fitting send off for a woman who, regardless of our nationality, was an individual to whom we all seemed to feel some sense of fealty. On our shelves rests a book, “Queen of Our Time,” about Elizabeth.  When one heard “the queen” one knew it was Elizabeth.

She was sent off with all the pomp and ceremony Britain could muster, things of which they are masters.  She now rests next to Philip, at Windsor. 

As the queen moves into history, history is being made on the battlefields of eastern Ukraine, with Ukraine’s counteroffensive having broken the Russian lines, sending demoralized Russian soldiers scrambling, some back into Russia, some stealing civilian clothes in which to disguise themselves while fleeing.

Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida, deposited 55 Venezuelan refugees here, which resulted in the island quickly assembling the resources to accommodate them while more permanent places could be found.  My church, St. Andrew’s, became their home, the Fire Department brought cots, clothes were gathered, food was prepared, the island found itself with an emergency, handled it.

Our efforts were met, of course, with trolls.  A plane circled the Vineyard Monday, trailing a sign: Vineyard Hypocrites.  The bookstore, along with other businesses, received phone calls berating the Vineyard, its efforts, the fact the refugees have been transferred to Joint Base Cape Cod where there are better facilities, housing organized for soldiers and their families, used also for refugees from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The number of people working to get to United States, or striving to get to the EU, or into Britain, reflects a global crisis.  The Venezuelans who arrived here were fleeing the desperate conditions in their country, walking for months to get somewhere safe. 20% of Venezuela’s population is on the move, refugees from the Maduro regime and the crushing conditions in that country.

And the numbers will grow as climate change continues to exact its toll on countries like Pakistan, much of which has been a lake these last weeks because of flooding.

Trump’s mendacity continues, spiraling some days toward a kind of Shakespearean madness, though some days the sound is only whining self-delusion, a narcissist denied. He is never, ever truthful.  At a recent rally in Ohio, he appeared to be playing to the QAnon crowd, which is frightening. 

The MAGA sycophants cause me to curdle. Some Republican candidates will not commit to accepting the results of the election if they are declared losers.  Thank you, Mr. Trump, for helping upend our democracy.  If not for you…

Alas, Babylon.

Alas, the decline of the Republican Party into this hot mess of mendacity.

I like that word, lying mixed with hypocrisy, which is now the defining quality of the Grand Old Party.  A registered Republican, I voted for a centrist in the primary, who lost to a MAGA man.

Lincoln would weep.  Eisenhower would weep.  Hell, even Nixon would weep.

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