Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Thursday, January 10, 2008

since we are discussing the formation of sensibility and the function of music . . .

late night dishes, listening to a dollar-bin CD medley of classical nocturnes and lullabys with a harshly-lit sleeping toddler boy and teddy bear on the cover, called “sweet dreams,” and it’s late night music, I’m doing the dishes, Gershwin’s “Summertime” opens, heavy and lush, and Brahms’s famous “Lullaby,” and a lovely Bach reverie “Sheep May Safely Graze,” and then we’re into Debussy, whom my beloved grandma a far better musician than I, my grandma bought me my first Debussy record, “La Mer” and “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun,” which I still have, and I think of the first time I saw my dad cry, when he told my grandma his mother-in-law that Grandpa had had a major stroke, I was living in Ann Arbor, having dropped out of college, and the call came, come home, Grandpa’s having surgery, he’s had a minor stroke and they need to operate to prevent a major stroke, and I drove the 100 miles right away and sat too long, we sat too long in the waiting room, it was taking too long, my mom and my aunt were there, and dad came later I think, and Jay’s mom was there all day with us, waiting too long, until finally they told us, he had had a major stroke on the operating table, it almost never happens, and two of us could go to ICU and see him he was awake, so my aunt and I got wrapped up in masks and gowns and went in and my vigorous retired athletic grandpa was tied up with tubes and masks and my aunt said “you’re doing OK Dad” and he couldn’t speak but he shook his head violently, he knew he wasn’t OK -- his dad had died when my aunt was a baby, he was in his early 70s and fishing in a rowboat by himself and he didn’t come home and when they went looking he had died fishing and I think that’s how Grandpa wanted to go too, in the prime of it, enjoying it, and not laid low by debilitating disease and he felt screwed --

Dad and I were dispatched to tell Grandma what had happened and she sat down and Dad cried when he told her
“Als had a major stroke”

Grandpa got to the nursing home some days later, stroke-stricken speech slurred, I would come home to visit, once when I was visiting he told me, bitter, “my soul is black” -- speech slurred -- he was curled up on his bed, not able to move much, and I leaned down and hugged him and whispered in his ear, “if you give up I’m going to be so pissed”

you see we were bonded, deeply physically bonded, when a motorboat ran over me when I was 10, he, 66 and newly retired and practically still in his prime, had run fully clothed into the lake to pull me out and I had woken up in his lap at the picnic table, covered with towels soaked with blood, and him shaking like a leaf, holding me, and me not knowing what had happened, a gaping hole in my face which I didn’t realize, “what happened?” I said, “don’t talk,” he said

Grandpa didn’t give up, he worked his ass off and came back 70 or 75 percent, never back to his full vigor or even to his fully clear speech, but good enough to drive, a source of pride, though he only did it once or twice to prove he could, and he lived another 13 years, more or less happy though lonelier after Grandma died

and how I miss them, it’s my turn now, my turn to miss them as they missed theirs, and the music makes me sob

More and more (and more and more and more) I realize that this is what its (it: music, art, life...) about -- the connections, the associations. It's why life is richer (if harder, exponentially) at 44 than at 22. Imagine 88?

I'm happier at 44 than I was at 22, but everybody's journey is different. Here's hoping we'll still be jawing in 44 more.
My mantra for 2008 is "Here's to a year of painful possibility."

Thanks for posting this. I need to email you soon, but I hope your year is off to a lovely start.

Thanks, Kerry, and here's hoping for some not-so-painful possibilities too.
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