By Cecile E. Mactaggart
My husband was dying. In the hospital - for five weeks. His temperature was 105 degrees. He was receiving Intravenous Antibiotics. Day and night. Nothing was working. Doctors' medicines were failing. Arthur and Excalibur, Abraham and Isaac, earlier pagan sacrifices stood shadows in my mind as, dismal, I stared into a dying fire one late winter afternoon. People die. I knew that. Only I couldn't spare Sandy. Not just then - his face so noble, so kingly, so caring. I had to stop Fate. Somehow.
"Could I make him something? If I made it with my own hands? But what? In six hours? All I had was six hours. I couldn't cook. I couldn't sew. I didn't know how to paint. What could I make?"
"Write a book?"
"In six hours?"
"Scraps. What about scraps? Scraps of Poems, Sayings, Here's and There's which had stopped me in my tracks when I first read them. Pasted behind cupboard doors, over the kitchen sink, under bathroom mirrors. Together with everything most beautiful from the Louvre, the Nelson Atkins, the Metropolitan, the Freer. All those post cards I had loved the best from each gigantic blockbuster show."
Suddenly I was racing. I was tearing around my house. For six hours I cut and pasted ending with the first of my many Mock-Ups.
Presented the next morning. But Sandy was too sick. Really he was too sick even for "Thank You." Except that night. 104 degrees. And the next night 103 degrees. And the final night coming home from the hospital, knowing in my heart, even though I never said it aloud, "My Scrapbook was saving My Husband."
Later it took me a whole year to receive permissions. So many mistakes for this Novice rushing along. That bill from the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga for the Hieronymus Bosch "The Temptation of St. Anthony" paid in a money order for Escudos? Just before Christmas? And I never double checked Escudos? $2,000 instead of $400? Still, in spite of such landslide mistakes, finally I was finished with my anthology.
This was published in 1994.
Currently (December 2016) Sandy MacTaggart is now 88.