SEPTEMBER 9, 1952
NEW YORK, Monday—It was a great shock to read yesterday of Gertrude Lawrence's death. She was a lovely person and a real artist.
I am glad that the last play I saw her in was "The King and I." In that she had scope for her art. No one could have been more charming, more graceful than Gertrude Lawrence in that part.
Her close friends and relatives have the deep sympathy of many, many people who knew her only slightly as I did, but who nevertheless appreciated her beauty of spirit and her great gifts. She used these remarkably to bring more happiness to the lives of those who were in her audiences. Many will grieve that she left us so soon, but when we think of her it will always be with a glow of pride and pleasure.
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I drove down the parkway yesterday afternoon as I had to be in New York City for a speech in the evening at the meeting of the International Chemical Workers Union. As I enjoyed the scenery I suddenly realized that the column I wrote the day before—counting our blessings in the physical world around us—left out so many things that I think we should contemplate far more often than we do.
There is the enjoyment that we get out of the arts, for instance!
How many times have we been lifted out of a dreary mood by going to see beautiful pictures or hearing a wonderful concert?
Or how often have we seen a play which for a time made us forget all our own troubles and anxieties, and brought us back to the world in which we had to live with a fresh outlook and renewed vigor?
How many books and poems have we read during the hours which otherwise might have been long and sad ones.
And, above all, how often should we count over our blessings in our human relationships?
I am particularly blessed because I have a large family of many different ages and they add enormously to the interest of life, but all of us—even those who have few ties of blood—have ties of the heart, and I sometimes think that our friendships can bind us nearly as closely as the ties of blood. In any case, they can give us great joy. Sometimes they bring us sorrow, too, either because of our own failures toward those we love, or because of sorrow which we share with them. But by far the greatest part of our time is pure, unadulterated enjoyment, an enjoyment of companionship in little things.
I like to have someone I really care about just sit in the room with me and read a book, so I can look up and feel that sense of close communion which is such a priceless thing in the world today. Fortunately, the good Lord gives to most of us in our lives a great many things to enjoy and the enjoyment of our friends' joys is one of the great privileges of life.
I treasure in my memory every happy occasion that I have spent with those I love. I think if all of us would count over these happy occasions, they would lighten the inevitable dark days that come in everybody's life.
Two columns on counting one's blessings!