Friday, July 25, 2008
This surfaced as I was rummaging through old photo albums looking for pictures of Dad to put in a memorial album. It's me and my first boyfriend, Henning. He is four and I am three. Now, if this does not look like a girl headed for trouble, I don't know what does.
Henning used to break me out of kindergarten (easy if I crept through a little play tunnel, stupidly positioned so that the exit was quite hidden, and snuck through a gap in the fence, so I suppose I was doing most of the breaking out). Then he would take me for rides on his mother's huge bike, where he had to stand up because his feet would not otherwise reach the pedals, and I sat in the saddle, lurching violently from side to side. We usually headed downtown to buy ice cream with money stolen from someone's purse. I don't know how we survived, but I seem to remember that we pulled most of this off without any grownups finding out. Although the ice cream lady must have wondered.
Well. It was probably best to get the scoundrel days over with early. I then proceeded to fall in love with only good guys: Elliot of E.T., Luke Skywalker, Frodo (of the book), Lee Adama, and then it culminated with my Pan, the best and nicest boy ever.
Mind you, Henning is a nice guy too, now, or so I hear.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I thought maybe my mind would freeze, as it did last autumn when we learned that Dad was ill. I couldn't write at all, not until he'd had the operation and it seemed that he'd been saved.
But no. Images and feelings I thought I could never get over as I stepped out of the hospital room that night, are filtering down through layers of words and tellings, settling in comforting drifts, where, if rain came, seeds might grow.
Life is beautiful even when it is sad, minds are beautiful also when they grieve, and stories are like stained glass windows, made of broken pieces, but brought together to paint some of that beauty onto the world.
Next week I'm picking my shards off the stone floor, and holding them up against the light. I think there might be some lovely colours waiting to be illuminated.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
The time has come to show you some glimpses of the wonderful person who was my father.
There are photos of Mum and Dad holding newborn me. They look fantastic. Mum has French looking, raven hair and a black and paisley minidress so short that I am a little scandalized that she wore it during the pregnancy. Dad has the arms of a young man, rich, wavy hair and an impressive 70s mustache. They never look into the camera, only at me, and they seem absolutely thrilled with having a new baby pruneoid. As if they know exactly what they’re doing, even if they’re young and have no jobs yet. Even if they hadn’t planned for me and hadn’t planned ahead.
My father pushed me around in my very cheap, very perfect stroller, attracting curious and sometimes shocked glances from everyone, since men simply didn’t do that back then. He didn’t care, he just liked hanging out with me.
I remember lying in Mum and Dad’s bed at the age of three, maybe four. Mum was already up, making breakfast. Dad and I was arguing about who should get out of bed first, using lines from a show on children’s tv, Pompel and Pilt. Many kids found this show frightening because it was so surreal, with drab settings, a multitude of doors, and dolls poking their wild eyed, wooden heads out in the most unexpected places. But I loved its craziness, and so did Dad, and so we lay in bed laughing:
- Pompel first!
- No, Pilt first!
- No, Pompel!
I can’t remember who gave in now. I only remember golden morning light streaking through the bedroom window and pearls of joy in my tummy.
In the mid 80s, most of the kids in my class had a VCR at home, enabling them to savour feasts like Star Wars and Top Gun and E.T. whenever they wanted. Birthday parties could include a rented video. Music videos that were shown on breakfast-tv every Saturday could be recorded and watched again, again, again. We pleaded, cajoled, begged and plotted, all in order to get Dad to buy one, too. But he refused. For a very long time. Then one day, out of the blue, after we had given up, he came home with a cardboard box and quietly connected its precious content to our old tv. It was a great day.
I remember showing Dad an English paper, expecting him to weed out any mistakes so I could turn in flawless work.
- Are there any mistakes, I asked.
- Yes, he replied, - There are three.
- Where, I said, bending over the paper to follow his finger.
- Find them, he said, and put the paper down.
I don’t think I ever asked him to point out mistakes again. But I also didn’t make very many.
I remember hearing him chuckle in the livingroom one day. From where I was sitting in the kitchen, I could see his face, but not the television screen he was watching. He chuckled, then giggled, then laughed, loudly, and all the while there was music playing in the background. I got up to see what was so funny. It was Beavis and Butthead on MTV. I loved it when he laughed, it made all of us feel like we were in the sun. And I love that he didn’t care if the fun was meant for a different audience.
I remember him walking slowly around the yard of Almhjell, carrying a cup of coffee, looking up at the huge elm tree to see if there were any baby owls, stooping to stroke the cats that would invariably seek him out, breathing in the moist, clean air that flowed down the mountainsides.
I was eleven when Dad brought home a copy of The Lord of the Rings. It must be the single most important thing anyone has ever done for me, except for bringing me into the world. I fell in love with the otherness and the long shadows and the heart of little people changing the course of things while big people were busy looking elsewhere.
I’m still in love with adventure, with epic stories and tales of fresh snow and quiet bravery, of deep vales and impossible hopes, of the fading of life and beauty. I cannot thank him enough.
And maybe I didn’t, and now I can’t.