Juxtaposition: the placement of two or more things side by side.
This morning, along the meadow edge, I noticed a lone daylily in bloom, its buds somehow missed by the deer. What a blessing, I said to myself, and perhaps more blossoms to come if the deer don’t eat them. True to its name, the daylily’s glorious colors and whorls of petals surrounding the stamens and pistil only last for one day.
I’m reading The Measure of a Life: Diaries of a Mennonite Farm Wife, 1920-2000, by Ruth Martin Hostetter and edited by her daughter Mary Alice Hostetter, a writing colleague of mine. From the age of fifteen until days before her death in 2000 at age 95, this Lancaster County, Pennsylvania farm wife chronicled births and deaths, the weather—especially if good or bad for drying the wash—numbers of eggs cleaned for sale and prices, bushels of produce, cakes baked, chickens dressed, and food preserved. She also noted local, national, and international news.
The entries are brief and to the point, the unvarnished truth, as my grandmother also named Ruth used to say. Ruth Martin Hostetter was as likely to note her children helping with chores or doing well in school as she was their illnesses, missteps, and occasional pranks. Between 1928 and 1950, she bore twelve children and one stillborn.
8/17/38 Wednesday: Very hot, had a shower about supper. I got up about 1:00 and Eby [Ruth’s husband] about 1:30. Eby helped make things ready. Everything went along fine till our baby arrived about 6:00 and to our sorrow and disappointment it was stillborn. Eby called Mabel and she came over and dressed it after the undertaker was through. After the children all saw it, Eby and the undertaker buried its dear little body in Hershey’s cemetery. It was a long sad day for me….
Later this afternoon, Keith and I will stand graveside with others as one of the members of our church buries his wife. She was a little older than us, a participant in Women’s Ministry activities, and a teller of the unvarnished truth. I can see husband and wife sitting side by side in church and imagine their time together being as dear as the daylily.
What juxtaposition did you have today?