"Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned."
~Edna St. Vincent Millay
On the eve of Sunday, February 17th of the year 2008, a true hero was lost. She went quietly--she who was beautiful and brave, though perhaps not witty and intelligent. And maybe not actually beautiful. But she was kind, loyal, and sometimes trustworthy. Now she is gone. And I do not approve. And I am not resigned. Bertha Lucinda Cirrus was my lifeline.
Bertha is survived by me, her somewhat abusive friend and owner, who drove her mercilessly across the country. From Utah to Colorado, Colorado to Utah, Utah to Houston, Houston to Michigan, and finally from Ann Arbor to Cincinnati and partially back. The demands placed upon Ms. Cirrus were many, and she rose to them occasionally. Above is the last surviving photo we have as a couple--taken just after Bertha had collapsed on the roadside, requiring not 1, but 4 brand new tires.
B.L.C. (Almost B.L.T.---something which I truly love) decided she could endure this life's travail no longer as she trudged north on I-75. We had driven from Ann Arbor to Cincinnati that morning. The roads were icy and the sky gray, nothing too out of the ordinary for a Michigan winter. Conditions cleared somewhat as we neared our destination, but after I completed my audition for Opera North--a summer opera company in New Hampshire--we took to the highway again, only to find conditions were not as favorable. We passed through a rainstorm which washed the dust of this earth from Bertha, leaving her spirit to fly free to the heavens and me to walk down the side of I-75. The autopsy indicated a water pump which had "gone out," causing the timing belt to shred, which in turn encouraged the pistons to misfire, burning out the engine through this series of events.
I felt only a jolt and loss of acceleration. And then I was stranded. For a long time. In Wakapeneta, OH. My roommate Maggie and my friend Christine had to drive nearly two hours to rescue me. My friend Amita and I in the meantime got to know the folks at the Comfort Zone diner, the local highway patrol, and a very nice tow-man extremely well.
And while Bertha gave her life in my service, I will conclude that I'm not overly sorry to see her go. She was a gas guzzler. A greed fiend and an unreliable, false servant. Better to be free of her clutches than wonder when she would fail me.
But I loved her just the same. So...adieu. Addio. Auf Wiedersehen. Later.