Thursday, July 30, 2015

It's In His Kiss

I love this beautiful photograph of a father and son.  The dad's arms are strong and handsome as they tenderly encircle his small child.  The picture is dated July 4, 1957, so I know it is Independence Day and I am willing to bet that's a hotdog in the boy's hands.  This loving kiss wasn't done just for the camera.  How do I know?  Because of the way it's being received. The child's nonchalant, easy-going receptiveness says, "Yeah, Dad's kissing me.  He does that alot".

I also know that this is true because I happen to know this little boy as a grown man.  And by all accounts, his father was a loving and kind figure in his life.  They spent many happy hours in salvage yards, piecing together old cars.  His father was a great provider, going to college on the GI Bill and eventually working for the Federal Government in charge of nursing home standards.  He was an active church member and took care of extended family members.  Most importantly, he modeled excellent husband behavior and treated his wife with respect and admiration.  He once told his son that everything he and his brother were, was owed to their mother's influence.  My friend's father was modest too.

But sometimes the end-of-life is very difficult and painful, and so it was for this man.  I asked my friend how he was able to reconcile the last wretched years of his father's life with his wonderful childhood memories of him.  He swiftly shot back, "His life was worth more than that"!  I believe he learned that from his father too - that a life is worth so much more than its ending - it is worth the whole damn beautiful sum total.  And how do I know this about a man I only "met" through anecdotes and stories?  You can see it in the picture.  It's in his kiss.  That's where it is...

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Summer Skies and Lullabies

As we await the delivery of wedding photographs, we are reminiscing about our happy day. Sunday morning dawned with smokey fog but by noon, the skies peeled back to reveal a lovely Wedgewood blue -  the color that transforms objects into something heavenly, as if one has put on rose-colored glasses.  More than once, I felt a catch in my throat - and a longing for something ...more time...more lullabies...a little girl and her dolly...and for other lives no longer overlap ours.  I also had the sensation of being carried around on a cushioned bed of serenity and happiness.  It was my daughter's wedding day!

I remember the rows of white chairs as we strolled down the aisle of our cloistered grotto. The hydrangeas bowed their heavy heads and the hibiscus danced a shimmy at the whispering sea breezes. My daughter's ivory dress suddenly seemed so bright and fresh in the sunlight, the meaning of it so clear...her perfection, her youth, her joy...and all her hopes for the future represented in the chiffon flower, the encrusted pearls, the simple net veil.  Her golden locks were smoothed out and shiny, skin perfect.  At the simple altar, rosebud lips - the same ones I fretted over so worriedly in a hospital isolate so many years ago - whispered "I love you forever, Mom".  She released my arm with a squeeze and I took my place.

The ceremony was simple and hushed and over way too fast - a promise, a ring, a drama or hype - no fuss -  so very like her.  I watched them pass by to "Here Comes the Sun" but at the end of the aisle, they stopped and waited for me.  Together we three wrapped our arms about each other and smiled into sets of brimming eyes.  And then, my new son murmured something only I heard:  "She's safe... you don't have to worry anymore".  Oh young man, if you but only knew...

The flashbacks have stopped at last.  I am clearing out her room and spreading out my life. When I went to bed that first night there was a card nestled beside my pillow.  On one side was her love letter and on the other, the instructions for changing the time on my clock radio - something I never got the hang of.

More beauty, fashion, books, art, and life posts coming up...back to my usual musings soon!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Wish You Were Here

I like to take a little something home with me each time I go to the beach.  Sometimes I find a pretty piece of sea glass or a perfect creamy white shell.  These little tokens stay on my desk for a time or the windowsill in the kitchen.  But eventually, they seem out of place, especially when the light changes in September.

Wearing summer perfumes is another way of pocketing souvenirs. When I summered on Cape Cod as a teen, Houbigant's Chantilly was never beyond my reach in the envelope compartment of my small floral suitcase.  Later, I swapped fragrances with my best friend and wore her Emeraude for my strawberry oil roll-on.  Our scents made their way into our long windswept hair and the collars of the open jackets we wore at night.  Most perfume back then could be bought very inexpensively at local drugstores and we tried everything from Chanel 5 to Jean Nate.  Later, I discovered Love's Baby Soft which was catnip for not only my boyfriend at the time, but also for me.  It was like a heady drug and I could have rolled around in it - I craved its innocent scent so much.  It was the soft powdery element that I wanted - so childlike and tender.

As a young mother, I was given Elizabeth Arden's Eau Fraiche, a light cult classic that's meant to be sprayed all over the body.  As it dries down, it smells like fresh-cut lilies that are just about to burst forth in a sparkling crystal vase. It's delicious but alas...the fragrance is ephemeral and vanishes quickly, much like the season.

My point is that special perfumes worn only in summer, are like bright picture postcards sent home to be cherished and read and then re-read. They are unexpected keepsakes of our warm-weather days. And when we suddenly happen upon them later in winter - clinging lightly to a scarf or sweater, or dabbed behind our ears after finding a bottle tucked away in a drawer - we are transported back to our golden fleeting summers.  As for the messages in those bottles?  It is but the same - wish you were here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

I Can Row a Boat...

This sweet black and white is most likely Central Park.  It reminds me so much of the Boston Public Garden and the lagoon where my grandmother often took me for summer swan boat rides when I was a girl.  I was always put in a pretty pastel dress with white gloves for our city jaunts and I'm not sure if it was always so, but I recall the soft frothy pinks of magnolia blooms encircling the trees like spun candy.  The Public Garden has a Victorian touch and the gardens are beautifully done within the bounds of good taste.  Ditto the monuments and fountains and the rod iron benches that line the meandering pathways - tailor-made for hand-holding and strolling.  It is very genteel with its pastoral remnants and botanically-crafted gardens and is a deeply romantic place.

As my daughter's wedding day approaches, I find myself nostalgic and easy to persuade with pictures, music, and scents.  Flash backs and memories infuse my days and I am taking many voyages to yesterday.  But now, in addition to the nuptials, I may be moving from the home I've known for 18 years to a beautiful cozy new place.  The challenge is not to be blown away by every wind in the process.  It may have been folly to begin this right at this time, but it's as though I am being led by something unseen yet strongly felt.  Whether it comes to pass, is still unknown but I am pleased to discover that even though I am a weakling in many ways, I can venture into uncharted waters alone and hold my own. I've learned things that I've never known -  how to ask for what I need, negotiate when necessary, and stand down change and fear even when the other shore is not yet on the horizon.  I find I can indeed row a boat....(can you?).