Saturday, September 4, 2010

Home with old memories

It's Annual Leave, the one time per year that all of the members of Totem scatter around the world, going to their home countries, families, and friends. We have an extra-long leave this year - four weeks. (Most of the time it should only be two weeks - it's longer this time to allow the show to move across the ocean to Amsterdam). Our comrades have flown to Australia, Brazil, Germany, Russia, China, Italy, Mexico, and Spain ... just to name a few.

Greg and I are happy to have some time back in the States. I'm spending the first couple of weeks with the kids at my parents' house in Massachusetts, while Greg is in Philadelphia working on his solo show and organizing his studio. We'll meet up with him in Philadelphia mid-month.

Being here at Mom and Dad's house is always relaxing and fun for us. Last night the kids got to join in on First Friday, Guitar Night by tradition. My Dad has been hosting this music gathering for 30 years.


When I tucked them into bed, with the music still playing, I told them how I remember so many nights, as a little girl, falling asleep to the same songs.

My parents recently acquired a big envelope full of old photos, taken from my grandmother's house in Plattsburgh, New York. Now that my grandmother has been moved to a nursing home, her children (5 of them - my father is the eldest) divided up the pictures in the photo albums.

The images, like this one, are really extraordinary. This photo shows my grandmother, Marion Miller, with my father, Ron, in 1946. And this isn't the oldest photo in the collection - we have a few here dating back to 1917, when my grandfather was born.

I'm in awe, handling these photos, which have passed through so many generations of my family. I study them, looking for clues about who these people were, what they were like. Imagining my grandmother as a young woman, caring for her children. Trying to reconcile this image with the fragile old woman at the nursing home, who, though she retains her sharp sense of humor and her deep affection for her family, has long lost most of these detailed memories.

Here is one more for today.... it's my grandfather, Edward Miller, in France during WWII. When I was a teenager, and Grandpa learned of my love for foreign languages, he told me the story of his time in the war, when he became invaluable to his company as the only one who could speak French. I think he told me this story every time I saw him from then on, with a glow of pride.

My grandfather died in 2003, just one month after Baz was born. I brought baby Baz up to New York for the funeral, and was sorry that Grandpa never got to see my little boy.

He was a flawed man. And yet, despite his failings, I know that he loved us all. And I continue to seek myself in my memories of him, knowing that I have inherited much from my father, who in turn inherited much from his.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post - the music the photos - everything - very touching. We can't wait to see you!