A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


The Ramans Do Everything In Threes
Friday, May 18, 2007

My Tía Fermina 95, lies very sick in a Houston hospital. She has a degenerated mitral valve in her heart that has precipitated a double pneumonia. She is too old for an operation and the medication to control the failed valve is not working. Her family called in the priest who gave her Communion and Extreme Unction. He jokingly told her that if she waited for another five years the statute of limitations on the sacrament (not true!) would enable him to return and give her the holy oils again. This seemed to perk her up and while she had had a doughnut for breakfast yesterday morning by lunch time she was demanding food from her favourite Vietnamese restaurant. Food with my aunt has always been the indicator of her health. It was on Wednesday that one of her daughters, Chayo had written to me, "Unfortunately since Thursday of last week she started sleeping a lot and not eating, not even chocolates!!!!"

I was able to talk to her yesterday. She was deaf so our conversation was one-sided. She floored me when she told me that we were in her prayers specially now.

It made me think of my mother was was nickanamed Sarah Bernhardt because she over-acted her health troubles. We thought she was hypochondriac. But in the late 50s she was diagnosed with Meniere's (I believe it is still incurable) which attacks the inner ears. It begins with loud buzzing sounds that destroy the body's balance mechanism so that one is constantly dizzy with almost a constant nausea. And yo become deaf in spite and because of the loud ringing in the ears. By the late 60s my mother was in despair and she confessed to me that she was losing her faith in a God that interceded in human affairs. He was aloof and thus prayer had no value. I was hard-pressed to convince her that she was wrong.

The reason is that my loss of faith had been precipitated by Arthur C. Clarke's science fiction novel, A Rendezvous With Rama. A huge craft is detected approaching the solar system.

It parks outside and then approaches the Sun. Earthlings investigate the craft but find nothing of the would be pilots. They find out that the craft, on its way to somewhere else, has "gassed up" with hydrogen from our sun. We humans are no more important that a gnat. The novel left me with a feeling that may have been the same one when Copernicus revealed to his world that the earth was not the centre of the universe and that the sun did not orbit the earth but the other way around. My mother showed no surprise when I told her of the book.

In the early 70s I had Rendezvous With Rama bound together with that other favourite Clarke novel Childhood's End. The French book binder Millioud had a shop in Mexico City and his work was legendary. He never scoffed at the idea of binding my cheap pocket books. When he returned this book he told me it was his interpretaion of Clarke's novel. It did not register on me at all and I just mentioned how lovely the cover was. It was only this morning that I caught on. Millioud must have at least read the last few sentences of Rendezvous:

And on far-off Earth, Dr. Carlisle Perera had as yet told no one of how he had wakened from a restless sleep with the message from his subconscious echoing in his brain:

The Ramans do everything in threes.

Tía Fermina is better today and her daughter Carmencita is now worrying of the problem of finding an extended care facility for her. I warrant that the priest will not be called for another five years.

Here is Tia Fermina with Rebecca. I took this photograph last year when we visited her in Houston on our way back from Morelia. I think we need her to keep praying for us.


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Hers & Mine

Kimberly Holcomb

A Study in Blue

Indiana Luna - Supreme Elegance

The Love Of A Mother

Waltzing In With Style

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CBC Group Show

Rebecca's Improper Fractions

Two Coroners - One Never Smiled

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