Sunday, February 22, 2015

Visiting Robert Louis Stevenson's House

Robert Louis Stevenson was a 19th century Scottish writer notable for such novels as Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  He was born in 1850 in Scotland and died in 1894 in Samoa. The house he built and lived in here is now a museum, which we got to go see the other day.  It's a pretty remarkable place.   If you are interested, you can find out more about his life and about the museum HERE. 

I've learned RLS published way more stories and books than I had ever imagined.  I'm now much more curious about his work and hope to find time to read more of it.

Here are a few scenes from our trip to the museum:

The "Tapa Room" named for all the Tapa Cloth covering the walls

 There are fireplaces on both floors, but they are purely decorative.  They have no functioning chimney.  Samoa is so close to the equator that it stays in the 80's pretty much all the time.  But having been born and raised in Scotland, I suppose RLS liked the familiarity of having them just the same.

And in that same vein of wanting to put a familiar feel to the place, he had redwood timbers shipped over from California for his wife Fanny's bedroom to help her feel more at home.  (She was from California.)

Despite the impracticality of fireplaces in the tropics or the huge expense seemingly squandered to pay for shipping California lumber all this way...I could relate.  When living in a land so far away and so very different from all you have ever known, having some reminders of where you came from can be immensely reassuring.  I have a few things I brought from home that I suppose I could have gotten by without for the period of this mission. Like the Stevensons, however, I too found myself longing for a bit of familiar



RLS was very sickly for much of his life, (he had tuberculosis) so he had a room upstairs set up as his hospital / sick room.  Writing was one of the few activities he could still do when confined to a sickbed for long periods of time.  So here with this guy with this incredible imagination who was coughing up blood much of the time.  But rather than moan and feel sorry for himself, he used his time to weave these amazing tales which have continued to fascinate and entertain people for more than 100 years.

That's quite a legacy that even after all this time people still are intrigued by his stories.


I cannot help but wonder if anyone will remember me at all 100 years after I am dead. This mission has us teaching people to recall stories of their ancestors and to record them.   What stories might my great-great grandchildren care to recall about me?  I haven't a clue.  I have no remarkable achievements to speak of.  But then, maybe it will be something I haven't even discovered about myself yet.   After all, the famous painter "Grandma Moses" didn't even begin to paint until she was 76, after her arthritis made embroidery too painful for her.

I don't expect painting will ever be my legacy, but who knows what will?  Perhaps it will be this very mission to far away lands that my descendants will remember me for.

Robert Louis Stevenson died at the very young age of 44.  What other contributions might he have made had he been healthy and lived a longer life?  Or, I suppose it is possible, had he been truly healthy he might led a happy but obscure life.  Maybe no one outside his circle of immediate family and friends would ever have even heard of him. It's very possible he might have never spent much time writing at all since that was primarily his sick-bed activity.

Sometimes the very adversity we would wish away is the exact circumstance which creates an environment for us to discover things about ourselves worth having.  Sometimes it is the same crisis we would run from which brings our strength, our faith, our knowledge that we cherish above any other.  I'll have to remember that next time I'm laid low with  illness, heartache, or  just plain getting old.

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