Today I went to see the Phantom of the Opera. I’ve seen it five times. The last time I was with my parents and I was probably about 13 or so and I was an aspiring actress/singer… My biggest champion was my Dad, more on that at another time.
My Dad was a lover of the arts, music and musical theater and is responsible for instilling and encouraging my love of theater–a love that has brought me much joy even though my theatrical aspirations have long been abandoned. We would listen to a number of scores on our two-hour drives upstate (we had a country house in Columbia County). The primary ones were Les Miserables, Into The Woods and — of course — Phantom of the Opera. I know all of them by heart, seriously. I haven’t listened to them in a very long time though and had forgotten some of the nuances of the story (or book) and honestly had thought that this trip to Phantom was going to be more for my daughter than for me. I thought I would find it hokey… I’ve seen other shows in the decades since my last trip and wrote it off as a tourist trap (ok, I’m a jaded New Yorker… I’m copping to it).
Weddings still get to me. I imagine they always will. Every kind of wedding from a small family affair to the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. It’s not because of the joy or anticipation of watching two people join lives–although that is also lovely. Seeing a father walk his daughter down the aisle, lovingly give her over to an officiant and her betrothed and kiss her for the last time as his little girl. Then watching a father/daughter dance is another tear-jerker… Ok, its more of a sob fest.
I’ve read a number of books focusing on personal growth and discovery over the last 20 years or so and have developed a mental reading list of my choice selections. Almost all focus on a some like of spiritual path, but are non-denominational and many address the void many of us feel when someone passes… Or any kind of loss–a relationship, a long-held belief etc.
I highly recommend all of these depending on ones personal situation. If you have tomes you particularly love, please share. I’m always looking to diversify my list. Here goes…
Every once in a while something happens and I wish you were still here in a way that feels more significant than usual. The good news is it usually is a good happening that puts me in this place as opposed to something sad.
This Christmas was a really nice one. We hosted Christmas Eve and had almost 20 people for a sit-down dinner. I did really good. The next day we went up to Connecticut and had dinner with everyone. As we were standing in the kitchen somehow we started talking about being in that same kitchen almost 12 years ago, sitting at the table telling you that you were going to be a great-grandmother. Maddie was there and loves stories that she is even remotely part of so she was full of questions: How did I tell you…(i just said “I’m pregnant”), Who was there… (Aunt D, you and me), How did you react…(you cried–we all did–and were so overjoyed), What did we do after…(shopping, of course). I remember at the time wishing I could bottle the joy and excitement exchanged and felt that day as a stockpile for when things don’t feel so great or are outright shitty. But telling Maddie about the occasion and remembering an retelling it for her it was just like opening that bottle and getting a little drunk on the feelings of that day all over again. So I guess I had my antidote all along, I just didn’t realize it.
There are many things that have happened in the last few years–personal and professional achievements, talent shows for the kids, great report cards and more–that I wish I could have shared with you. You would be so proud of your great-grandchildren…and they remember you, ask about you, know how much you meant to me and they in turn want to honor your memory. It’s very sweet.
I love you and miss you more all the time, but at least now I know how to recapture those special moments
Last night as I was tucking Sean into bed, he asked me to tell him a story that had “Papa K” in it. Even though he’s never met you he’s fascinated by stories about you–maybe because he carries your name as his middle name or because he’s always told how much he looks just like you or because he has to wear glasses like you did (he even tried your old ones on).
Like today, we were in a cab and he wanted to know about when you tried to do stand-up comedy and what were some of your jokes.
When I was 14 or 15, my Dad and I settled into one of many “serious conversations.” this occurred when I had really screwed up and/or refused his advice on some critical topic…so it happened a lot.
This particular conversation took place after having discussed and revisited one of my not-so-smart decisions and now looking back on it as a parent myself, I think he had decided a course correction was in order.
“You know 99% of everything there is to know…” he started and my ears perked up.
“But there’s still this 1% that you don’t know… I know the 1%… And remember you know NOTHING of this at all.” I was slightly deflated but intrigued.