Uncategorized Archives - Memories in Motion
- By Eileen Vandergrift
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Yesterday my family and I celebrated my father’s Birthday…the 50th since his death.
We have had many ways, over many years, to come together in remembrance of him. Each year, the four of us, in different ways, have moved further along in the process of becoming his ‘afterlife’…embodying him and the legacies he left us. Still, growing up and through, our shared experiences of what it has meant to be his children, is still unfolding. The moments of celebrating him, often laced with considerations of the impact our early loss of his presence had on us, is one of the things that’s kept us close.
Today I shared, with my sibs, a little flash of an old memory that I had of our dad and myself as we approached his special day. Some memories, and some of the people that have formed us, stay with us forever in simple and complicated ways…I am 62 years old now (20 years older than he was when he died) still, I absolutely cherish these little’ memory gifts’ whenever they emerge so I share this one with you.
The Last To Go
Long after his death, I still conjure him through the sense, they say, is the last to go.
Laying sleepily over his right shoulder, that hilly walk home from Yankee Stadium to our brownstone in the Bronx was always accompanied by song…his alphabet of love.
Even today, I can feel him move over and through me at the drop of a few hummed bars.
The bold O’Hanlon boy from The Patriots Game, Young Roddy McCauley ‘smiling proud and young’ and Danny Boy’s mother reaching back from ‘the great beyond’ to her beautiful son…each was a friend that had gone before us…held a place for love and courage, made the child I was, a part of the people we belonged to.
The forever un-surrendered lilt of his brogue continues to sing long past the silence of his tongue. The cradle of my ears rocked still by waves of sound remembering me to the ocean that first brought him here.
Even now, I can summon his brother Owen singing “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen” on the night we buried him.
Only then, at 12, did the song separate from the singer…he who I had believed not only sang it but wrote it for her, our mother. (Kathleen).
- By Eileen Vandergrift
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Yesterday I walked 6 miles along the paths here in my town. Everywhere, Spring was in full bloom!
Cherry blossoms lined Iris Avenue, 15,000 tulips were face-to-the-sun on Pearl Street and lilacs crept across many a porch’s waiting wooden framework. As full sun warmed our bleached grass and the foothills offered their ever welcome shade, I felt nourished.
I woke up this morning with a bit too much sun on my Irish skinned face…reassuring me that yesterday’s beauty was not a flight of fancy! Through the night some 4 inches of snow fell. The robust vulnerability of yesterday’s blooms, now cloaked in a weighty and uncertain struggle to survive, reminded me of how often we are each met by challenges as demanding, sudden, dramatic and heart rending. While I can (and did) shake off a few heavy, wet and sometimes bowed limbs, I knew that nature would take her course…some would survive and some would be lost…this is the way of life.
In that most of us, at some point, will have first hand experience of days when ‘the all of it’ is humming along beautifully and then turns towards unthinkably challenging transformations…I hope that you too look at the world as you move through it. I hope that you notice it’s generosity and let it’s beauty touch you. I hope that you will find in it a model of grace, surrender and resilience to call upon on day’s when you are the bloom!