Language being what it is, sanguine is a color — which I recognize from conté pencils purchased from Dick Blick — which is difficult to describe, because it resembles dried blood, though I don’t think that’s its source. What that has to do with another of the dictionary definitions (optimistic or positive, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation) I can’t quite fathom. Unfortunately, the O.E.D. isn’t handy.
For a split second I flashed on Donald Trump and tried to imagine him uttering the word “sanguine”, and deemed it improbable, despite it having just two syllables, because it involves introspection, an intellectual exercise beyond his capability because it is also beyond his comprehension. Odd, because I wonder if sanguinity may come with age; he is but seventeen months younger than I. Like other mental states that involve being on the cusp, the edge, a point of change or transition, it comes with reflection that more of life lies behind than ahead.
I wrote in a recent application for promotion of a difference between myself and the college committee that had reviewed my dossier. “My guess,” I wrote to the university provost, “is that the median age of the committee might be thirty-six.” [University committees are populated with mid-career faculty whose “service” will reinforce their own quest for advancement.] I went on, “But I am seventy-two and can tell you that a career ahead looks remarkably different from one substantially in a rearview mirror. And also that my promotion and my death are likely to be a photo finish.” I made a point, but probably at a cost yet to be paid. And so, as I wax nostalgic, reminisce, reflect, resign myself, yes, I’ve become sanguine: of what lies in the past and does not; of what lies before me and cannot. Therein resides my sanguinity.
My seventy-fifth birthday is six months from last Wednesday, and, though I’m enjoying moderate good health, this has become as good as any opportunity to plan….and tie up all those loose ends. Three are underway: restoring the Little House; creating a 501(c)(3) non-profit to carry the L.H. into a useful future; and establishing a fund at the F-M Area Foundation named for my grandmother, Clara Frances Markiewicz, to support causes dear to my heart. So…
When the time comes…
…and it will all too soon, and should you wish to remember me in some modest way, may I make a comparably modest suggestion. The Markiewicz Fund will support programs that: 1) advance medical research (heart disease, cancer, and alzheimer’s); 2) promote social justice (voter’s rights, anti-discrimination); 3) underwrite architectural education (scholarships and travel); and 4) support the arts (museums and commissions). The Fund is generating about 3%, contributions are tax exempt (to the extent provided by law, i.e., for the time being), and it is guided by a committee of five good friends, most connected through the Department in some way and committed to the same goals (you’d recognize their names). Together with the 501(c)(3) and other provisions, these contribute significantly to our sense of sanguinity.
I’m just saying.
And then there’s the matter of putting Agincourt to bed.