from another’s past
Tag Archives: Memory
Each time we say farewell
may be the last time.
Until it is, and when it is,
this I know:
I love you;
I will remember you;
I am grateful
for all that has been,
all that is,
and all that may yet be.
Haunted by your absence
Shifting weight from foot to foot.
As backpack straps dig into my shoulders,
I gaze at people scurrying by,
On their journeys from here to there.
At times my eyes fix upon a stranger,
and as the face blurs before me,
for an instant,
you, who are I know not where,
are with me.
This is an old one written in the Sea-Tac Airport sometime in 2003
There are places I remember all my life
Lennon and McCartney got that right.
But there are also people I remember. And moments.
Moments I will remember as long as memory lasts. Moments that not only fill my mind as memories. Moments that fill my soul and spirit as the sights, sounds, feelings wash over me as though the moment had never ended.
The births of my sons.
The death of my father.
The murders of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bobby Kennedy.
The fall of the Berlin Wall.
The release of Nelson Mandela.
Tonight I wept as I relieved such a moment.
I finally watched Lee Daniels’ The Butler. I had not seen it in the theater, but I added it to my Netflix list and it arrived this week.
The film provides much to ponder. Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan? Seriously?
The scene that touched me came near the end.
Cecil Gaines, played by Forest Whitaker, has retired from his position as a butler at the White House. He has reconciled with his son, Louis, played by David Oyelowo. His wife, Gloria, played by Oprah Winfrey, has died.
Cecil and Louis are in his house on November 4, 2008. The votes in the Presidential election are being counted. As the moment nears when the media will declare a winner, Cecil calls his son to come to the living room and watch. Louis arrives in time to see history happen.
As the newscaster in the film announces Barack Obama’s election as President of the United States of America, I found myself transported back to the night it happened. And I wept.
I wept in joy at Barack Obama’s victory. At progress made. At hopes realized. At the possibilities before us then and now.
I wept in sorrow at how much work remains to achieve racial justice. At the oppression, discrimination, and injustices my sisters and brothers endure.
I wept in frustration at shortcomings and failings of President Obama’s administration to meet the expectations of the moment. At potential unfulfilled.
But most of all, I wept remembering my friend Merdine T. Morris. Shortly after the media announced Barack Obama’s election, I called Merdine T. Together we laughed and cried and prayed.
The film scene transported me through space and time and as I heard again the joy and hope and pride and concern Merdine T. expressed that night.
Merdine T. recognized the historic significance of President Obama’s election. She also understood the arduous work that lay ahead for him and for our country as we continue to come to terms with the racism and other systems of oppression and discrimination dividing us. Merdine T. knew first-hand racism’s bitter sting and enduring power. She knew Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. personally as our mutual friend Carol reminded me. She knew hopes shattered and dreams, not only deferred, but devastated. She knew the tears that water and the blood that mark the road to justice.
But Merdine T. Morris never gave up. She held to faith. She held to hope. She held to love.
And so I wept tonight because Merdine T. and her husband Luke trusted me and were my friends, because Merdine T. and Luke welcomed me with grace, because Merdine T. and Luke accompany me in the Communion of Saints, because, to paraphrase Bruce Springsteen, writing about another unforgettable moment:
Her strength gives me strength
Her faith gives me faith
Her hope gives me hope
Her love gives me love
Tonight I wept in gratitude. And my tears were good.
See you along the Trail.
I am not sure I would have asked the question. Too many people have experienced abuse, abandonment, failure to love, and more from their fathers. Too many fathers have died too young. Too many wounds remain unhealed.
“What is your favorite memory of your father or your father figure?” Bob Brashear, pastor of West-Park Presbyterian Church, asked near the end of his sermon today.
My first thoughts went to those who had negative experiences of their fathers. I felt my heartstrings tightened as I considered the profound pain the simple question could touch.
Images of my father, gone too long, filled my head and heart. He was not perfect. None of us are. But he was a good, good man who loved me and my brother and sister well.
Memories came at me as thick as gnats on a hot, sultry night. When it came my turn to speak, I went with my first memories:
“Baseball. Playing catch in the back yard. Going to games. Baseball. In Pittsburgh.” I remembered, although I did not share, that as I child, when I would have to go to bed before a Pirates game finished, I would wake up in the morning to find a piece of paper with the score written in my father’s handwriting.
Memories. Blessed memories. As I rejoice in mine, my heart goes out to those who know pain.
Happy Father’s Day to fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, and all, male and female alike, who have filled the role of fathers.
See you along the Trail.
Now that the Shire has sold,
anger melt as icicles in winter sun.
washes over me as summer sun.
Moments fill my heart,
people, beloved people, dance across my soul.
And I know
it was good.
It is good.
10 April 2013
He worked as the assistant superintendent for the Grove City Public School system. But he was a musician. He played string bass in the pit orchestra for the high school musicals. He directed the Scots Fusilers – a town band. He was a tennis player. He was a photographer. He was a private pilot.
On January 28, 1974, he climbed into a small plane with another educator from Grove City. Their destination was Harrisburg where they would advocate for funds for the school system. They had tickets on a commercial airline, but decided that he would fly.
They did not arrive.
The plane went down near Emlenton. The crash site was not located until the next day.
When he died, I was in Europe with the Westminster College Choir. I could no more sing then than I can now. But my family appreciated the value of travel and found the funds for me to go.
I arrived at JFK on Wednesday of that week where family members met me and broke the news and broke my heart.
Tonight, 39 years later, I raise a glass to his memory … to the time, the far too short time, we shared. To all I learned. To laughter and to tears. To music made well and badly. To tennis matches. To a trip to Philmont.
I raise a glass … to my father.
Goodnight and joy be with you, dad. Goodnight and joy be with us all.
Mine is Jameson.
See you along the Trail.
I remember courage.
I remember faith.
I remember wisdom.
I remember grace.
I remember sorrow.
I remember tears.
I remember grieving.
I remember fears.
I remember laughter.
I remember song.
I remember welcome.
I remember joy.
I remember hard work.
I remember toil.
I remember changes.
I remember pain.
I remember caring.
I remember hope.
I remember sharing.
I remember love.
I remember you, my friend.
I remember you.
22 July 2012
MCO – LGA
Films carry a great deal of my past with them or so it seems when I view them.
As I watch them again, I experience them anew, I see scenes that I have somehow managed to miss in the past. But I also find memories washing over me – memories of the time I first saw them – memories of how they spoke to my life at that moment – memories of where I was and what I was doing – memories of the people present when I saw them.
I have started watching every DVD I own – in no particular order, simply in the order they come off the stacks where I store them. I have done this before. This time I find them evoking memories in a powerful way.
The memories jumble, bumping into each other, pulling me through life and experiences in a random order – evoking the people who are and have been part of my viewing experiences through the years. Smiles and tears commingle in a fun ride.
Tonight – Little Miss Sunshine – which features one of my favorite endings and calls to mind some of my favorite movie-going companions.
See you along the Trail.