Monday, April 21, 2014

Memories of my parents

When I was feeling my most intense grief after the death of my first parent – my father – and my editor Marie Grady said to me at work, "They're always with you," I just couldn't believe it.

As the years go by you realize it is of course true, although it is also true that it's never the same.  If we are lucky enough to have good memories, we feel our parents'  presence and we also miss them most at  holidays. A friend said it to me yesterday about Easter. It washed over me at Passover.

A piece on the Lives page of yesterday's New York Times rang true. The author wrote that in the silverware her mother gave her, she saw her mother's hopes and dreams for her future.

My silverware has stayed shiny, covered up in its special drawer by the felt that my mother placed over it. Diane and I have both added some of hers. As she was dying, she said, "Don't give away my silver." When I run out of regular tablespoons, I like to take one from the drawer. I am eating out of a silver spoon, I say to myself. I always put it back and cover it up carefully.

I think of how I channel my mother. For Passover, I put a circle pin on my jacket. "Who do I look like?" I said to Katie and Joe. "Your mother."

Never put a container on the table. Always have flowers: Tulips in the spring. (If not flowers, a bowl of fruit will do, or even a lemon and some cherry tomatoes.) Put candles on the table. If you're not going to use them first, light the wick for a minute. (The white doesn't look good.) Send flowers for anniversaries. I did it for Ben and Meghan yesterday. (One year!) Specify no carnations. (Not classy.)

Yesterday I channeled my father as my neighbor Susan and I walked over to the tennis courts to hit outside for the first time. "I'm going to hit a few," I said to Joe. My father's words. Every so often a breeze picked up. If it was really windy out, my father would say we couldn't complain. "It's an outside game," he'd say.

"Serve 'em up."

Into his eighties, he had a regular tennis game at the courts at Atlantic Beach. I'd wake up to find him eating his breakfast in his tennis whites, long legs stretched out. He would come back grumpy if he had a bad game. (Like father, like daughter.) He would grumble about one particular octogenarian, "He cheats."

He loved hitting with the pro, but he would say, "Never kid yourself about how good you are when you're hitting with the pro." So true. Always makes me laugh.


Anonymous said...

Dearest Ronni,

I too have such wonderful memories of your parents...their beautiful hear/th -- home -- hospitality -- all immeasurably enriched my life, at a time of profound..

Here's to Mr. and Mrs. Gordon - I remember watching you and your Father play tennis -- then watch the Artist-Hostess prepare the tables -- fresh flowers from the Thank you...

Tracy said...

My mom used to tell me the light the wicks of candles too. I don't remember her reason though. I was just talking to someone about that last weekend. How funny!!!