To-day is the date of El Gringo Viejo's father, who would have been 102 years old had he not decided to join the Angels some time back. We need to joke about these things, because as he was so did he turn in his chips...joking and playing word game tricks as he departed.
He would have wanted me to remind everyone that he was particularly dismayed by the hyper-secularisation that began to occur in earnest during the final times of his journey on this Earth. Among the symptoms that he most lamented was the demise of the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church. He felt that the drawing down of such perfectly crafted wording and rhetoric represented a radical move into making the Church relevant to modernity and man, instead of redirecting the attention of the parishioner to the matter at hand....saving and cleansing souls for Jesus of Nazareth.
He also was distressed at the appearance of another secularisation of one aspect of the culture, and that was the Death of a person before his time, such as a student in primary or secondary school. These creapt on to people at university, and then on to people in school settings in general. It was felt somehow that the standard and commonly excercised methods of addressing the shock, fears, and sadness that some might feel, especially children, needed the help of "grief counsellors".
|Irene Garza's murder was|
never solved. Her brutal
killing dumbfounded and
depressed a community
in such a way that it
never really made
a real recovery.
Irene Garza went to
Sacred Heart Church
before she was killed.
Photo by Jeff Newton
Of course, in McAllen, we had a way of dealing with such things. We had, during my episode of terrorising the public school system, several sudden departures of students and persons well known to the community. Some died of childhood diseases and the polio. Others were killed in motorcar involvements. A very popular young woman who was highly placed in the McAllen society, a teacher, and a real beauty was murdered, plunging all of McAllen and most of the Magic Lower Rio Grande Valley into darkness un-equalled since those days in 1960.
On the day following the discovery of her remains, thrown unceremoniously into a large irrigation canal near downtown McAllen, the town plunged into an emotional darkness. Churches held special elements of service for her repose and for the health of her family. Others prayed for the speedy delivery of the perpetrator. She was a Latin, and Roman Catholic, a very traditional girl who could be identified by every citizen in the City. She had been a drum major, an NHS member, first chair French Horn, active in campus and community affairs from an early age, and then a young, aspiring front line elementary teacher with a classroom of her own. The Anglos and the Protestant Churches joined in the attempt to flood the family with kind sympathy.
In the schools, on the Monday following the discovery, most home rooms began with an "Our Father" or with a prayer for the repose of Irene's soul and for the comfort of her family. The prayers were rendered in a Christian context, and even the Jews among us participated without a second thought. Mr. Tracy spoke to some of us late in the day, and he admonished us to speak to our parents if we were troubled by this event, but he would always end his counsel by saying "....and, follow your faith."
We had no "grief counsellors"....not for Irene, or the boy in our class who had either accidentally or on purpose hanged himself in his garage just three blocks from Mirabeau Bonaparte Lamar Junior High, and not for the three very highly placed "rich kids" who were involved in the wreck that killed two of them and left the other diminished for the remainder of his life....one of the dead boys was the older brother of one of the girls in my class. My brother was in their cliq, and was supposed to have been with them on their adventure across the border that ended in tragedy via their high speed meeting with the rear of a stalled bus parked on a floodway bridge in the darkness. That brother decided to go out with a new girlfriend, and "jilt" the fellows, so he sent me out to tell them when they came by to pick him up..."My brother can't go out with you all, my parents have him grounded." The doctor's son's brand-new Pontiac would have about 5 hours of life left before being turned into an unrecognisable mass of bent metal at 21:30 hours on that Friday night in the summer of 1959,
My father was right. Grief counsellors, of course, are the replacement by Caesar's minions for the outdated and silly notion of reliance upon faith and certain knowledge of the afterlife. Since there is no god or gods, it is up to the secular to assist, especially children, through psychological methods, thereby removing the sacred and spiritual another step away from the vital issues of life.....and life after life.
Happy Birthday, dad....you were right. As usual.
El Gringo Viejo