“If I have done any deed worthy of remembrance, that deed will be my monument. If not, no monument can preserve my memory” Agesilaus II, King of Sparta 400BC
“Mankind’s suffering belongs to all men” Dr. Bernard Kouchner, founder, “Medicins Sans Frontieres” (Doctors Without Borders)
Even though Dr. Kouchner has since gone on to become France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, the dedicated medical practitioners he inspired with his conviction (that liberal democracies have a duty to defend human rights) have gone to a Nobel Prize. But most importantly, these special heroes rush into areas of war and illness when others are rushing out! As the Spartan king remarked, they are truly Dr. Kouchner’s monument and living legacy.
We have similar heroes closer to home in Mac and Ann Piper, founders of our fellowship here in bayou country. Bell and I knew them well when our fellowship occupied a quaint, little house on Carmel Drive. Winter speakers would expound with the fireplace crackling at their backs, while a stoic Roger Harris puffed his pipe on the front porch swing. With scarcely three dozen members, we had occasional ministers; and speakers were called upon to defend their opinions promptly after delivering them. (I recall Odin going into great detail on the waterless ending of some ancient South American cultures. Not unlike our own perhaps) Roughly half our little congregation were card carrying members of the “Humanist of Greater Fort Walton Beach” chapter, including founders, Mac and Ann.
Mac Piper was a local nurseryman who wrote regular articles on gardening and horticulture for the “mullet wrapper”, which the more academic Ann surely edited with great precision. Both were white-haired and far from imposing figures in structure, yet even in those days, what courage was required to stake one’s ground as a free thinker in such “difficult” and harsh terrain!
The Pipers shared what could best be described as a cottage on Buck Drive, in working class Fort Walton. We exchanged visits, and on one occasion Mac even planted a small bay tree in our back garden. Still requiring incessant pruning as it gropes for the roof.
But eventually, health failing, Mac and Ann left town to enjoy the twilight comforts of family further South. Ann, still sharp as a tack, would send Mac scampering throughout the house on errands his wiry, little frame could still cope with but were beyond walker range. Two to make a whole. A common equation in the “golden years”. But it wouldn’t be long before word came back to us that Mac and Ann had passed. Pretty much as they’d lived. Together.
There’s a postscript to the Piper legacy because another fellowship couple, who also loved gardening, had a double lot with a virtual forest garden tended to religiously by member Hank Boudolf. Remember, his wife, Fran, was our poet laureate? So what more fitting than Mac and Ann returning home to take up residence in Hank’s garden? Their ashes were deposited, ceremoniously, in garden by the congregation. Then with the passing of our poet, Hank too, journeyed South to family. A new home now rests on most of the garden. Surely, even if they rest beneath a concrete slab, it’s comforting to think perhaps there are little feet scampering about above Mac and Ann. Because gardens weren’t really their heritage or final resting place.