My most favorite play is Our Town by Thornton Wilder. I taught this play year after year after year to maybe a collection of hundreds of high school students. I always looked forward to my Drama Unit and Our Town. It settled into me from my first reading in college – settled into my heart and brain and soul. It is not a fast-moving, highly energetic masterpiece, but rather a soft, honest masterpiece of what life is – including Death. My brain has memorized, honestly, the entire text of this play. My favorite and most special quotation of all literature that I have consumed and/or taught comes from the play Our Town, by the character Mrs. Gibbs, on life’s philosophy on our journeys through life and perhaps given the one chance to live just one day over again.
Mrs. Gibbs says:
“Choose an unimportant day. Choose the least important day of your life. It will be important enough.”
I truly believe this. I live this.
Yesterday, as I stood at the grave site of my beautiful Aunt Joan, surrounded with family in the morning mist a few miles from Boston where my Mom’s family settled generations ago and many still live… and steps away from the grave site of my own Dad, gone now 40 years… everything still and quiet and beautifully solemn, I was thinking of Mrs. Gibbs and the beauty of this moment when I thought I heard a train whistle in the distance. The priest was offering prayers in celebration of Aunt Joan’s life and her new journey, and I thought I heard the train whistle again. I thought of Our Town. I thought of being so close to Boston and my Aunt Joan on that train for Boston and beyond, waving and smiling and her raven hair blowing beautifully free.
I turned around and whispered to Barry, “Did you hear a train whistle?”
He nodded yes.
I knew the words:
“And in the depot, where Shorty Hawkins is gettin’ ready to flag the 5:45 for Boston… (a train whistle is heard. The STAGE MANAGER takes out his watch and nods.)”
I will never hear a train whistle again without thinking of my Aunt Joan… riding that train directly through her beloved Boston and straight to Heaven as we, the living, make every single ordinary day THE most important day of all ~