Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Letter to My Father

“It is an exquisite and beautiful thing in our nature, that when the heart is touched and softened by some tranquil happiness of affectionate feeling, the memory of the dead comes over it most powerfull and irresistibly. It would almost seem as thought our better thoughts and sympathies were charms, in virtue of which the soul is enabled to hold some vague and mysterious intercourse with the spirits of those whom we dearly loved in life.”

Dear Dad,

I happened to read this passage last night in my annual Dickens’ novel (this year Nicholas Nickleby, that quote on p. 652) and couldn’t help but feel how timely it was. Because today would have been your 101stbirthday. Of course, the best memories come unexpectedly— a song, a smell, a moment that calls you back to life. Such things don’t occur just because the day turns on the calendar. But it’s a good reason to pause and remember you. I played a bit of two of your compositions, Refugee Pathetique and Forma and that felt good to hear those notes again (though I must confess I didn’t play them that well first time over!). I have two photos on my desk, one of you and Mom in Sausalito, frozen happily in your late 60’s selves, and another of you and I playing cards when my kids were young. So I see you every day. 

What’s the report here? Well, Zadie just turned 8 and I think you would love her and her brother Malik and I’m sorry you didn’t get to meet them. I could imagine you teaching her how to draw Mickey Mouse and writing some of your little doggerel poems for her. Karen’s quite happy in her retirement, Talia is a simply wonderful teacher at the school and there seems to be a new love interest, which she so richly deserves. She’ll be 35 next week! Ginny just left for Mt. Baldy, continuing her Zen studies commitments and Jim is still playing golf. Ian has two kids, Kyle is a roving poet and Damion will get married this summer. And so the family carries on. 

I’m as busy as ever and mostly happily so. About to go to Salt Lake City with 38 kids to perform at the annual Orff Conference. My new book will be for sale there, as well as my CD. 
Yesterday was Grandparent’s Day, my last as I will “retire” from school this June and naturally, thought of the days when you and Mom used to come to visit Kerala and Talia in their classrooms. Of course, now the grandparents are my age! Or younger! But the spirit is the same. 

And while I would like to keep writing to you and telling you yet more news, the 4thgrade is waiting for me to cast them for upcoming Holiday Play, The Phantom Tollboothand I have about two hours left in the evening to do so. And then pack. So I’ll keep this short and know that there will be more moments to come when you will visit me as Dickens describes. I do miss you, even 12 years after you’ve left. If there’s such a thing as being well in your World, well, of course, I wish it with all my heart.

Your still-loving son,


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