A Birthday and a Funeral

Our friend, Fran Becque, marks this day’s importance to two of our favorite people. Two days after Grace Coolidge celebrated her fifty-fourth birthday with her husband she came home from one of her shopping-walks along downtown Northampton to find her husband had passed quietly into eternity as he prepared to shave at midday, January 5, 1933. He had turned sixty the previous summer and that day, starting so clear and unseasonably pleasant, gave way to rain before the end of the week. They had enjoyed just under four years of reprieve and rest after a steady quarter century in public life. Finally freed of the immense pressures that had shaped most of their life together, Grace and Cal could at last find the restorative time together the burdens of office had delayed and prevented for too long. Then he was taken. Indeed the pressures of office — and most importantly, the state of the country — weighed heavy on both of them, as Cal and Grace truly did pour themselves into the obligations each faced during those trying and difficult years between 1921 and 1929. They could only watch with heavy hearts at the nation’s suffering, a palpable turmoil that seemed to only worsen under Coolidge’s successor. Today we remember the joys of a new year but also the somber reminder that eternity is also very near. How we face death is as much a part of our character as how we put our lives to use for others. Today we remember Calvin and Grace, both of whom with full hearts for people and lives led in service to so many.

The Coolidges at home in The Beeches.

The Coolidges at home with their dogs in The Beeches, Northampton.

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