Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Saturday, August 18, 2012
I don't know why, but I had a feeling I should visit my father.I hadn't been back for a long time. I flew to Cleveland by myself and spent a week with my folks in Shaker Heights. My mother had me sort loose pictures from a huge box that she had been assembling in the living room. The box was called, I think, a barrel; it was the type used by movers to ship large table lamps with the shades on. It took me 22 hours (one fourteen-hour day and and one eight-hour one, honestly!).just to look at and touch each photo. Using a long bench we used to have in the garden, I sat on the sofa and sorted them into piles according to life events. When you left home or married, you and your family got a new pile. So there were piles for each of the seven children with our new families, a pile for our growing up years together, and a pile for both my mother's family and my father's family before they married. I put the pictures into looseleaf albums, which my mother enjoyed taking apart for various projects for the rest of her life.
But that is not the story I meant to tell when I began to post. That story is the two nice long talks I had with my father that were more intimate than I remembered ever having with him. Those talks alone were worth the visit. This was in January, and it was snowing. I also helped my father shovel snow from the deep slant of the driveway. It was powdery snow and easy to shovel. Dad said it was good that it was not wet snow, "Wet snow is heavy. Sticks to the blade." After I did one side of the driveway, he neatened up my edges.
At some point I took this picture of the kitchen window, looking out at the snow. It is very characteristic of the small still lifes my mother built here since 1957, when GE transferred Dad to Cleveland and we left The Farm overlooking the Mohawk River outside Schenectady. Mom liked colored glass bottles, no matter how humble, and didn't throw them out. She also was always starting little slips that broke off from other plants, or that people gave her. I like to assemble little groups of this and that also. My daughter-in-law calls my living room The Museum! Her children love to play with the little Zuni animals and all the other things, some of which I have had for almost my entire life.
My father died unexpectly in April after my visit. I have always been glad I went.
at 1:31 AM