Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Last Stretch

Still plodding along with Boswell's Life of Johnson. I honestly thought there was some chance of finishing it when we were in KL back in March, but I was happily side-tracked then by Bate's biography of Ted Hughes and progress since has been fitful. I had only some 250 pages to go at that point, which didn't seem a lot having covered the previous 1150, but there's no real momentum to the Life to compel a reader to hasten on, and a slow, meditative pace seems appropriate to this most gradual of all unfurlings of a man's days.

I'm now in Johnson's final year so those days, always numbered, seem especially melancholic - though it's the courage of the man that shines through the debilitating final illnesses and his frank fear of death. This might seem appropriate reading on a day I annually set aside for particular remembrance of Mum, since it's the anniversary of her death. Yet I rarely, if ever, find myself dwelling on the difficulties of her last days since the years leading up to them had been so full of life in the best sense of the word.

Hers was a Life that will never be written, as is happily the case for most of us. We are fortunate indeed to escape the evaluating eyes of posterity, or even those of a good friend like Bozzy. But it's comforting to think our small lives mean as much as the largest in the final judgment.

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