Monday, November 21, 2005

A Weekend with my Father - 94 going on 95

Regular readers may recall that I regularly visit my father, who will soon celebrate his 95th birthday. He is exceptionally intelligent with an incisive mind and a quick wit. He is conservative but willing to listen to alternative points of view. He loves to argue and, having been a highly successful attorney, he usually wins arguments as he still does most games. He recently completed tom Wolfe’s new novel about life at a prestigious sports-oriented university (I think the model might be Stanford), I am Charlotte Simmons. This sparked a lively discussion about undergraduate sexual practices, a topic about which both of us had opinions, though neither of us are very well informed. For the most part, students are circumspect about discussing this part of their lives with Dormgrandpop.

We also began considering the disposition of family treasures, accumulated over a lifetime, that surround him in his small, apartment. Though he remains in good health, my father accepts the reality that at 94 going on 95, his future lifespan is foreseeably finite. Almost every artifact has a story attached, and we shared many of these with each other. There is the portrait of my great-great…grandmother on her Alabama plantation before it was burned to the ground by Union (Yankee) troops during the War Between the States. There are framed menus from crossings on the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth and from some of Europe’s great restaurants. There are the civil war epaulettes (possibly from an ancestor) that were mounted over the hearths’ in our many homes. There are the original Hogarth prints that my mother rescued from a New York antique shop and had framed to decorate the New York law office where father reigned as a senior partner. There are albums and albums of photographs, meticulously mounted and annotated by my mother, describing the rich life of an elegant sophisticated couple who raised four children, enjoyed each others’ company and lived well.

This collection of material things, over which my father still presides, has represented an anchor and point of reference (even during the long period I was estranged from my mother) for more than sixty years. Within the foreseeable future, it will exist only in photographs and memories.

Sad… but that is the nature of things.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Dormgrandpop. I'm the mother of an AU student. This was such a touching entry. May God bless you and your family.

6:34 AM  

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