"Vicarious Virtual Book Club
My Favorite Quotes from Breath: A Lifetime in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung
by Martha Mason
I meant to put some of my favorite quotes in my discussion post about Breath, but I forgot! Here they are now, from Martha Mason!
"I live with a stable of nightmares, but hope keeps them in harness."
"Sometimes I wondered if I were in hell. Can there be a greater punishment than helplessly listening to the anguished cries of the person dearest to us? Perhaps hell really is isolation from the absolute love of God--or by proxy, from the love of our mothers. The ebb and flow of love between parents and children seems essential to a well-functioning life. Maybe our love for parents and others is our synapse to our Creator. Selfless love, personified in good mothers, compels us to seek the higher--to seek God. To be deprived of or cut off from that love is indeed hell."
Dante reached across the centuries to capture the way I felt as Christmas dawned on the horizon that year: "No greater grief than to remember days / Of joy when misery is at hand."
"I keep looking at the clock on the mantle. It is an old clock that once belonged to my mother's grandfather, so I think its hands are moving slower than those of the new clock in the kitchen. I make frequent treks to the kitchen to check the movement of those youthful hands. I convince myself that on Christmas Eve the minutes have to be stretched to allow Santa to get to every house in the world. On no other night are the laws of time suspended. The evening drags like a sled on rocks. I eat cookies and
drink milk until my stomach rebels."
"Years later I would understand what Wordsworth meant when he wrote 'In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts/ Bring sad thoughts to the mind.' "
"Hattie brought her bull calf to the fence for me to scratch her head as I admired her offspring, who had no name because he would soon be slaughtered. He had already inadvertently caused me trouble. My example of him as one born to die to save others had not pleased Preacher Crow at Bible School earlier in the summer."
[Note: Martha discovered a book of unknown origin, that she thought may have been her brothers, in a homemade bookshelf in the hall, while sitting in her wheelchair, watching her mother dusting the books.]
"Whatever the source, my new manual showed me a better way to live above my physical problems. My enthusiasm was sparked when I read, "Take away the complaint 'I have been harmed' and the harm is taken away." I could do that! I could not allow my spirit to be stunted by polio! There had to be more to the life I had struggled so hard to save. Marcus Aurelius also told me in forceful terms that my day would not last indefinitely and that I had only one opportunity to experience my world in its best light, "...[A] limit of time is fixed for you, which if you don't use it for clearing away the clouds from your mind, it will go and you will go, and it will never return." Although I had--have--no fear of death (but a good measure of fear of dying), I decided I could stay too engrossed in the adventures of life to think about death.