Aunt Corinne At 70

Today Aunt Corinne reaches the age of 70.  I want to wish her happy birthday and thank her for the special, and vital, role she has played in our family.

The five Webner children have been blessed with a trio of amazing aunts, each special in her own unique way.  Aunt Corinne has always been the intellectual aunt, the one who was not afraid to break free of the cultural constraints placed on women during the ’50s and ’60s, the one who encouraged reading, and thinking, and proper grammar and word usage.  (And let me tell you, there is no greater spur to developing a decent vocabulary and passable conversational skills than having a brainy and witty aunt who patiently corrects misstatements.)

Corinne Palmer Webner graduated from law school when few women even dreamed of a legal career.  She has always loved to cook and worked patiently on a needlepoint creation that hung for years over a special rack at their home.  She reads voraciously and was the first person I knew who extolled the value of a Kindle.  In short, Aunt Corinne has always marched to the beat of a different drummer — except in her case she is probably moving to the complex rhythms of a Bach cantata.

When Kish and I lived in the Washington, D.C. area in the early 1980s, Aunt Corinne and Uncle Mack were the nearest members of the family.  We spent a lot of time with them and their children Laura, Betsy, and Billy at their home in Reston, Virginia.  You could not ask for more gracious hosts.  Aunt Corinne always gave great advice (and, I think, gentle guidance) as we dealt with the beginnings of our professional careers, the early days of law school, and the first few weeks of parenthood.

At that time, Grandma Webner lived nearby, too, and Aunt Corinne and Uncle Mack bore the brunt of the many administrative and social responsibilities that come with caring for an aging relative.  Until you have done it, I don’t think you can fully appreciate what it means to field that ill-timed call for help, or to carefully explain the change in routine to a puzzled senior, or to progressively assume greater decision-making responsibilities for someone who is slowly failing.  Aunt Corinne did all this, and did it cheerfully and well.  We can never repay her, or thank her enough, for that.

Now she and Uncle Mack are retired, to their lovely home in the outskirts of Savannah, Georgia, where Aunt Corinne is re-doing the kitchen to her exacting specifications, giving that Kindle a workout, and doing what grandmothers do to make their grandchildren feel safe, warm, and loved.  Happy birthday, Aunt Corinne!  May you have many, many more!

Turn The Page

Here’s an interesting story that reports that the top-selling item on Amazon.com is the Kindle version of Dan Brown’s new book, The Lost Symbol. It makes me wonder whether we are on the cusp of one of the increasingly common, but nevertheless radical, changes in the technology of how we receive information or otherwise entertain ourselves — like when American culture transitioned from albums to CDs, from Walkmen to Ipods, or from VHS tapes to DVDs.

As more and more people become accustomed to reading documents on computer screens, inevitably they will become more inclined to use devices like the Kindle which allow them to get new reading material more cheaply and immediately than going out and buying a book or reserving it at the library. Only old fogies like me will continue to prefer books because the physical sensation of turning pages, easily flipping back to reread passages to clarify a point, or placing a well-worn bookmark are essential parts of the pleasure of reading.

Of course, after fighting my way to the finish of The Da Vinci Code years ago, in my view the most amazing part of the story linked to above is that so many people would want to read Dan Brown’s new book.