It is called The Great Poet's Birthday Book, a worn little book with yellowed pages given to my husband's grandfather by his sister Maud Mercer. Maud gave it to her brother Richard (Dick) Mercer for one of his birthdays. Somehow it survived the decades, various owners and moves until now it resides with us.
Maud, born 1913, and Dick Mercer, born 1909, were both from Harbour Breton, Newfoundland where their father was the Church of England minister. Maud, never married, owned a home in St. John's, Newfoundland, where her sister, Grace and her family lived in the apartment.
In the early 1970s when I attended Memorial University in St. John's, Maud was in some of my Biology courses. She was sixty, retired at the time, and wanted to finish her degree as had her sisters, Faith and Grace. I met Maud through her grand nephew, Rick, who I was dating at the time. Maud and I often spoke before and after class. She was an interesting woman, ahead of her time really. For a woman born in the early part of the twentieth century, it was incredible that she was pursuing her education at that age, when many women, like my grandmother, were working in their homes and farms. Being a single woman helped her pursue her dream at that age. Maud had determination, motivation and means to achieve her goal.
Now, at the same age as she was then, I do not find it unusual that Maud would continue her university education in her sixties as she did. For the early 1970s however, it was unusual. She was a great example for me and the many baby boomers today who are retiring and taking up new interests and furthering our education.
The Great Poets
The birthday book Maud gave her brother is a treasure. It is a calendar, providing quotes from various poems, and space to write birthdays/anniversaries for each day of the year. It has names and years of birth for family members on both sides of the family in Classie, or Dick's handwriting.
Many people have such books. We use a yearly calendar and transfer the names every year to a new one. However, this little book is timeless, without a year designation. We could add our important dates there as well.
Father of Classie Lawrence Mercer
From this book, we discovered that the second name of Classie Lawrence Mercer's mother was Hannah, Julia Hannah Hardy Lawrence. Dick referred to his father as Daddy (1876-1943), while the more formal 'Mother' was his mom's title. Our daughter, Claire, is the last entry in the book in 1980.
Inside the cover of the book is the verse, author unknown:
There is a link death cannot sever,
Love and remembrance last forever.
How appropriate, Maud. (1913-1990)
Rest in peace.
Note: the book was published by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Bible Warehouse, Ltd., London. No date given.