Home » Life & Relationships » A Lament for Carl

A Lament for Carl

Last night, my neighbor Carl Bard passed away.  Carl turned (I believe) ninety-three years old this past July, and he was aiming for 100.  He was a parachuter in the 101st Airborne Division during WWII (I have confirmed said fact with my father), and for his 85th through his 90th birthday, each year he went skydiving.  He was planning on jumping again for his 95th birthday in a year and a half.

I don’t yet have the words to explain Carl, and I don’t think I ever will.  I wish I had a photo of him to post.  Imagine him sitting on a tan, plastic lawn chair, feet propped up on an orange stool, National Geographic in hand, wearing a threadbare blue button-up shirt and a John Deere baseball hat.  Imagine him smiling.  Always imagine him smiling.

This is the best I can do.  My heart laments for you, Carl.  It laments the way Frodo laments for Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring (and the last stanza, Sam’s addition about the fireworks, I can’t count the Fourth of Julys shared with you).  I hope you don’t mind the borrowed words.  I will find my own in time.

When evening in the Shire was grey
his footsteps on the Hill were heard;
before the dawn he went away
on journey long without a word.
From Wilderland to Western shore,
from northern waste to southern hill,
through dragon-lair and hidden door
and darkling woods he walked at will.
With Dwarf and Hobbit, Elves and Men,
with mortal and immortal folk,
with bird on bough and beast in den,
in their own secret tongues he spoke.
A deadly sword, a healing hand,
a back that bent beneath its load;
a trumpet-voice, a burning brand,
a weary pilgrim on the road.
A lord of wisdom throned he sat,
swift in anger, quick to laugh;
an old man in a battered hat
who leaned upon a thorny staff.
He stood upon the bridge alone
and Fire and Shadow both defied;
his staff was broken on the stone,
in Khazad-dûm his wisdom died.
The finest rockets ever seen:
they burst in stars of blue and green,
or after thunder golden showers
came falling like a rain of flowers.
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