Thursday, January 8, 2009
For My Father's Birthday: A Mosaic of Memories
For the 78th Birthday of My Father, Who Showed Me the World through a Wide-Angle Lens
[Click on the light blue text for links, if you want.]
I put together this little mosaic representing some of my happy memories of growing up with you, from the golden years on Orton Court. (There could be so many more images, too!)
I remember, not necessarily in chronological order . . .
1. When I was little, I thought Martin Luther King Jr. was normal. I somehow got the idea that that's what grown-ups did--they worked for peace and justice and love.
2. Lying on the floor forever, staring at the album cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band.
3. This portrait of Thomas Carlyle (photographed by Julia Margaret Cameron, saved from a calendar, I think) and how you wanted your hair to look like his. Now it does!
4. You betting Sister and me a nickel on football Sundays that the Green Bay Packers would lose, even though, with quarterback Bart Starr, you knew they wouldn't. Also how you shared your Fritos and bean dip while you watched the game.
5. You running around Paris calling out "Anouk, Anouk," hoping she would hear and leave Albert Finney for you.
6. The Memorial Union Terrace, UW Madison. Babcock Hall ice cream. Sailboats. Ducks.
7. How you weren't allowed to rent a sailboat at the Luxembourg Gardens because they were only for children. How much you love the gardens anyway.
8. You driving home one Saturday afternoon after grocery shopping, singing along to the car radio, loudly, "Come on baby, light my fire."
9. The Bible, by Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine. Or such was the impression I got from you.
10. All of us watching the weekly World Classic Films series on... was it channel 21? Whenever I hear the Vivaldi they used as the series' theme, I remember how exciting that was.
11. Sitting on your lap and hearing the pocket watch in your coat pocket, to the accompaniment of Walter Cronkite reporting moon landings (his comment: "Whew...Boy!" at 1:01) and murders in his comforting voice, as if the world made sense.
12. Going with the family to see Eugene McCarthy speak at the Coliseum in 1968 (we're in this photo somewhere!), when I was seven. You didn't think I'd forgotten, did you?
13. Laughing at The Smothers Brothers and Laugh-In, even though I didn't get them, because you were laughing.
14. George McGovern. Because he wasn't Richard Nixon, whom you hated. Really hated.
15. The cover of this Bob Dylan album; but I don't really remember anyone listening to the album... You were more likely to be listening to Glenn Gould hummming Bach.
16. [image below] Maybe my favorite, quintessential memory of you is when you took me, just ten-year-old me alone, to the Majestic to see Death in Venice. The woman at the ticket window warned you it wasn't a movie for children. And in your most Daniele-like voice, you announced, "I will be the judge of what movies my children see." Or words to that effect.
And you were right: I loved it.
"...as if he, taking a hand from his hip, pointed outwards, to something hovering ahead, immense and full of promise."
--Death in Venice (Italy, 1971, dir. Luchino Visconti)
Happy Birthday, and thank you.
And that's the way it is.
January 8, 2009.