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"...never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

I call it 'my' cemetery because it contains memorials to people who were in my life... and because if my planning goes well, I will end up a resident here myself eventually. I do hope that is still decades away... meanwhile, I am the curator here and your guide. Oh, not just to the graves... any doofus can go to a cemetery and walk around and look at the tombstones - but to many other things. After all, a cemetery is truly for the living, not the dead. With a nod of agreement to George Carlin's assertion that cemeteries (and golf courses) are wastes of otherwise perfectly good land, still, I have have always found them - and the thoughts they inspire - interesting. I see no reason at all that cemeteries, especially one found at a place called The Learning Place, should not be educational.

So, let's mosey over there and sit on a bench for a while, if you don't mind. We'll listen to the wind in the trees, the singing birds, smell the pretty flowers, feel the warm sun on our faces... and contemplate death. We'll take a look at that sucker from every possible angle. Let me tell you a little about three fellers I found interesting.

See that ol' bell over there? The quote at the bottom is from a feller named John Donne. It's one of the most famous quotes in the world... most everbody's heard of it, but usually misquote it, and not so many know about Donne and what he thought and the story of the quote. We'll come back to him after while.

Another feller I like a lot and everbody's heard of is Shakespeare. William Shakespeare...shaken, not stirred... what? oh, wrong guy. Well, anyway... one of the pieces Bill wrote I like best is the story of Hamlet... you know what happens in that? If you don't you really ought to know that. Don't worry, if you can't wrap your head around Elizabethan English, I know a feller that can tell it plain enough that even Gomer can understand it, ok? It's just that, if you can understand the old language, it sounds better... seems a lot more profound and worthy of respect. Especially Hamlet's Soliloquy, which is my favorite part. That's a monologue or speech. Check it out, it's in Act III Scene 1...
Shakespeare

To be, or not to be--that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep--
No more--and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep--
To sleep--perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprise of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action. -- Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia! -- Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.

Shakespeare Impaired

Do I really want to live?
Should I go on like this, being miserable,
and try to beat my enemies?
Or should I just kill myself and
Get it all over with?
Life sucks.
I wish I was dead.
Death is like a nice, long nap.
But the problem is,
What if I dream of horrible things?
It's definitely something to worry about.
If there wasn't anything to fear in the afterlife,
Why would anyone suffer
Through his rotten existance?
Why deal with life's troubles
When it all could be solved with a dagger?
No reason...
Unless something bad might
Lie beyond the grave.
No one comes back from the dead
To tell us what it's like,
So we go on living and being unhappy.
Sigh.
Man, I'm depressed.
But...whoa, check it out.
There's Ophelia!

See, that ain't so hard. Mr. Donne? Oh yeah, see, him and Bill lived in similar times and places. You can get the wiki on John here and on Bill here, and you read just about every play, sonnet and poem Bill ever wrote here. Looks like Bill was something of an agnostic as far as death was concerned. He has Hamlet asking "what if" there's something after death.

But John? He was a poet too, but he became a priest and wrote a lot of meditations and sermons. He took the whole death and afterlife thing more seriously than Bill did. That quote over there comes from his seventeenth meditation, sometimes called his No Man Is An Island piece. You can read his essays and poems here.

John got sick about seven years before he died and he could lie there and hear church bells tolling when there was a funeral in town. That's kinda what reminded him that one day the bell would toll for him too, when they were doing his funeral, and that we're really all connected in a way. He said, "...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." You know, when anyone dies, a part of all of us dies, and one day we'll go too. He said, in Latin Nunc Lento Sonitu Dicunt, Morieris which means,"Now this bell, tolling softly for another, says to me, Thou must die."

I actually met this third feller before these other two. He could be an ornery ol' cuss but wrote some funny as hell stuff. He came along a couple hundred years... what? Whatcha mean, how old am I? Right now I'm fifty... If I make it to March 23rd of '09 I'll be 51. Naw, see, I don't have to have been alive at the same they were. That's the thing about life... you can meet and get to know everbody that came before you, as long as they left something to remember them by. So, sure I know Bill and John and a boatload of other folks way older than that. Hell, King Tut from Egypt was over here in Atlanta not too long ago with some of his stuff. Well, 'course HE didn't know anything about it, but we did. He ain't knowed much o' nothing for about five thousand years. Come on over here and let me show you my wife's grave. I'll get back to this other feller after while.




THE INDISPENSABLE MAN

Sometime when you are feeling important
Sometime when your egoís in bloom
Sometime when you take it for granted
Youíre the best qualified in the room.

Sometime when you feel that your going
Would leave an unfillable hole
Just follow this simple instruction
And see how it humbles your soul

Take a bucket and fill it with water
Dip your hand in it up to the wrist
Pull it out and the hole thatís remaining
Is the measure of how youíll be missed

You may splash all you like when you enter
You may stir up the water galore
But stop, and youíll find in a moment
That it looks quite the same as before

The moral of this little example
Is to do the best that you can
Be proud of yourself but remember
There is NO indispensable man.

Peter Kelly

Watch out for this weird red bar somebody left laying here....

"All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages." --William Shakespear, From As You Like It (II, vii, 139-143) For the benefit of friends who're trying to know me better, this is a listing of the players in my life. Bessie Florine Timms Beal - 09/19/1911 - Spring 1999. Deceased, Mother, and while I knew her, the best friend I ever had. She was always "maw" to me... not ma, mom, mother, mama... just maw. Her father was Thomas Jefferson Timms (I think) and I don't remember her mother's name. She was born September 19, 1911, probably at home in Felton, GA, the baby of the family. Her siblings were Emma Timms Carnes {married Homer Carnes}, Chester "Chet" Timms, Clarence Timms, Myrteel Timms Davis {married Rice Davis} and Thomas Jefferson "Tommy" Timms. She rarely left Felton in her younger days. She was born a naturally kind and jovial person. Her childhood and young adulthood were spent mostly with her family. She went to school, but quit after third grade because she simply wasn't interested. She always told me the only subject she had any interest in was geography (which she called "jogafy"), but there wasn't enough of that to keep her in school. Besides, the family was dirt poor, school cost money, and she was needed at home to help with the work of daily survival - planting, tending, harvesting and canning of the vegetables to get the family through the winters, as well as cooking, cleaning, washing, making and mending clothes, etc. At some point, probably in her late twenties to early thirties, she began working with the WPA, which meant she walked six or seven miles, one way, every day, to a mill in Buchanan. Throughout her life maw was one of those back country women of the time who, if never married, were called "old maids". She never had much interest in men or sex. She never "dated" (the term was alien to them) or went to socials. She would have probably remained an old maid except that she decided she really wanted a baby. She heard of a guy named Tom Beal, from over in Alabama because he had recently gotten out of prison and was doing logging work (with mules and chains) with her brothers Chet and Tommy. She liked him ok and decided she would marry him so she could have her baby. It was a little late in the game for her (she was 39 years old), but in the fall of 1950, she married Tom Beal. He was 50. For eight years she plodded along in her life and had surely come to despair that she would ever have her baby. Tom already had a family from a previous marriage, and probably had little interest in it any more. I know they did have sex at least once, somewhere in the summer of 1957. She later told me I was the product of her very last ovulation, so in that sense, I am the dregs, the bottom of the barrel. At around 5:30 in the morning (perhaps why I HATE mornings) of March 23rd of the following year, maw finally had her only baby in Polk General Hospital (which has since become Polk Medical Center) in Cedartown. From her genes I seem to have inherited my "feminine side," my tendency to be "too good for my own good," the traits of being a listener, kindness, good humor, and a predisposition for obesity. I knew her for 41 years and in that time, could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I saw her really angry. Maw never hit me - not once. Never spanked, slapped, switched or whipped me. She even stood defiantly between my dad and I when I was a teenager and he thought he was going to whip me again - even when he pulled the pocket knife. She laughed a lot, which always made her "Santa" belly go up and down. She was simply the kindest and sweetest-natured person I have ever known. She saw me through measles and mumps, near starvation, field work, school, and finally a marriage. She told me to "always play fair" (because she believed it and didn't know any better), told me "that's ugly," when she caught me under the porch looking up her dress through the cracks when I was five. She always told me and showed me that she loved me and was proud of me ("even when you're sixty years old, you'll still be my baby"), and always gave to me of everything she had to give. I consider one of the best things I ever did for maw was taking her on a road trip which included Washington DC, the Statue of Liberty, Pennsylvania Dutch country, the St. Louis Arch, and "J.R. Ewing's" ranch in Dallas. I was so proud maw finally got to see some real jogaphy. At one point I tried to build maw a little house next to ours in Ariton (which she always called "Arington") but, for various reasons, never finished. Her final years were spent living alone in a Housing Authority apartment in Ozark. I tried to visit at least once a week, usually more. After she had her stroke, and I realized she could no longer live alone safely, and I could not take care of her and had nowhere to put her, she was moved back to Cedartown, into the same nursing home (what a Stephen King character called, "Hell, with a fresh coat of paint") that her sister Myrteel was in. There, she died of a heart attack in 1999. Though I had seen her death coming for years, there is no way one can truly prepare for such a thing. You just kinda play it by ear. By this time I had long been an atheist and did not trust myself at ALL to sit quietly through yet another traditional southern funeral full of lies and damn lies. I decided I would have no part whatever in her funeral, but would simply allow her nieces and other relatives to stage the usual production number, as they always did. I did my grieving and said my goodbyes to maw in the chapel of Lester C. Litesey funeral home in Cedartown. I wept the sorrow of the absolutely lost for about an hour; I held her cold dead hand and kissed her forehead one last time. I knew, of course, that maw was no more. That she had not "passed on," "gone to a better place," or other such euphimisms the weak minded use for death. Maw was simply dead - nonexistant. Then I left the carcass for my kin to do with as they would. I'm sure they buried her body in one of the cemeteries around Felton, though I still don't know which one. I have no particular need nor desire to go and look upon a small patch of ground which contains what's left of the body which once contained my dear mother. Robert Thomas Beal - 4/26/1900- April, 1976. Deceased, Father, and while I knew him, the strangest individual I knew. From his genes I seem to have inherited my tendency toward a quick temper, rebelliousness, craving knowledge, need to write, etc. I was the second time around, familywise, for him. He already had seven living (and two deceased - a male unnamed child and a girl named Susie? beside whom he fetched up in death in a cemetery in Jacksonville, Alabama) children (with his first wife, Ollie) before he met my mother. Dad apparently had a thing for "J" - his sons were John, Junior, Joseph, Jim and Jack (though Jack is actually Robert Louis). He started the girls with "M"; Mary and Marie. His youngest, Marie, lived with my mother and him for a time before she got married. He and my mother were married in 1950 and I was born in 1958. He was 57 and my mother was 45 at the time of my conception. He spent some years in prison during his thirties, most or all of it in Atmore, Alabama (fortunately for him, and ME!?), he was out before the prison burned in 1949). One of his greatest fears while there was possibly being transferred to Kilby. According to his interpretation of the Bible, his daughters were to service him just as his wife would - the conviction was apparently for incestuous sexual relations with at least the eldest daughter, Mary, and possibly with Iva as well. While in prison he was assistant to the State Chaplan; he was apparently still a Baptist. At some point he became enthralled with Jehovah's Witnesses founded by Charles Taze Russell, and thus, dragged my mom and I to meetings at the Kingdom Hall in Cedartown, Georgia (it's now for sale - see link). We helped to clear the lot and BUILD that Kingdom Hall. Before that, there were meetings in various private homes. Iva Marie Beal Timms - deceased, my half sister and the mother of James Thomas Timms, known variously as "Red", "Jimmy", and to me, "my Jimmy" (also his siblings; Jacqueline Marie {Jackie}, Billy Daniel*, Stephen Randall {Steve}, Robert Earl {Frog}. Interesting fact about Marie: She very much wanted to have children but discovered the man she had married, Elbert, was apparently sterile. She loved Elbert, and saw no need to go through a divorce or any such disruption, nor did she see any reason why this setback should prevent her from having children. So, she found other men to impregnate her. She kept this secret until very near her death when she decided to share it with me, though she didn't tell even me the names of the men. She said that Jimmy and Jackie were the only two that had the same father, and other men fathered Steve, Billy and Frog. I'm not sure how many knew this secret, even Jimmy didn't know, and I have my doubts that even Elbert knew/knows. James Thomas Timms - deceased, "my Jimmy". Samuel Scott Cain - deceased Philis Annette Beal - ex-wife, disabled Lil - former lover Bessie Louise Rodriguez - former girlfriend, fiance, lover Melinda Sue Beal - current wife George Zeinelde Jordan - good friend boo didley was herelllllllllllllllllll llllllllllllllllllllll

Philis A. Beal
This was her obituary notice in
The Dothan Eagle:

Philis Barfield Beal, a resident of Dothan, passed away on Sunday, March 30, 2008, at Dale Medical Center after an extended illness. She was 56.
Graveside memorial services will be held at 4 p.m. today at the Sunset Memorial Park Pavilion with the Rev. Billy Gant officiating and Robert Byrd of Sunset Funeral Home directing. The family will receive friends following the services.

Mrs. Beal was born on Jan. 26, 1952, in Houston County and lived in Dothan most of her life. She was a 1971 graduate of Dothan High School and was employed with SouthTrust Bank as a data processor. She was a member of Berean Baptist Church.
Survivors include her mother, Anne Barfield of Dothan; sisters, Alice L. Yoakam and her husband, Anthony of Dothan, Janice Nelson and her husband, J.W. of Dothan; nieces and nephews, Kelly Nelson, Christy Nelson, Steven Nelson, David Beckworth, Mark Beckworth and Andrew Beckworth.

Robert Byrd of Sunset Memorial Park Funeral Home and Crematory LLC of Dothan, is in charge of arrangements. For complete up-to-date information please visit Sunset Memorial Park or call (334) 983-6604. Sign the guest book at www.dothaneagle.com.

That was it. She did work at Southtrust Bank way back in the early seventies...she was a kepuncher. Her mental problems didn't let her work after that. I married her the first time in '78 and she was already on disability. That church thing sucked too. She might have been technically a member there way back, but the last church she went to was Dothan First Assembly with me in the eighties, where we both sang in the choir; back when Paul Estes was the preacher there, and Billy Gant was Youth Minister or something. Man, I wish I knew how to get some VHS video uploaded onto here... of us in costume singing at Christmas and Easter.

Now, ain't that a helluva hoot!? Narry a mention of me. 'Course the guestbook is long closed now, but last time I looked, only TWO people had signed it and one of them was me. Not a one of her three husbands she had before me, not her boyfriend, not her sisters or her mother. Just a neighbor lady.

Usually I ain't one to get riled by such as that, but that really pissed me off and hurt my feelings too... for both me AND Philis. I went to the Eagle's guestbook and stuck this in there:
Anne, Janice, Alice, and the rest of the family: Words do not exist to express the horror and profound pain and emptiness of such a loss. I always loved Philis more than I could ever express and I will as long as my brain fuctions. The other family member - Temy - her husband forever. Temy Beal (LaGrange, GA)
No body else gave a crap, but it made me feel a tad better.

Last I heard, her sisters, Janice and Alice, weren't speaking. I thought that whole thing was really wacked... married the woman twice, spent 26 years of my life with her and then when she died, she never had made any arrangements for me to get the house and lot, so I reckon Alice got it. Twenty-six years of blood, sweat and tears, and I got zip and nobody bothered to even tell me she was dead for ten days. That whole half of my life went poof, just as if it never was. So, yeah, Philis died and we were really connected, so a lot of me went too. That's the kind of thing that had Bill making Hamlet wonder whether to be or not. Luckily for me, I already had another wife by then, though. (There was a girlfriend in there too, but that's a whole other barrel of Medussas.)

Soon as I can get all the pictures scanned in, I plan to run a slide show here about Philis. Here's Philis's Obituary at Sunset (take the photo tour, it's pretty - Philis is near the roses), and that pic is from high school... same one that's on her gravestone.

is anyone in here?

This is the new row I'm on the new row, too! sssssssssssssssssss
this is Philis's memorial page ..........................................................................................