My Grandfather’s Birthday

Today my maternal Grandfather would have been 129.  He died in the Spring of his 102nd year.  My mother’s side of the family enjoys longevity, my father’s side, not so much.  My mother’s line comes from hearty French-Canadian farming family stock, and my father’s came from Scots-Irish and English fighting family lineage.  My father’s side carried the banner of anger and scrappiness, while my mother’s touted ‘get along and go along’.   My father’s ancestors were outwardly ill-fitted to society, while my mother’s forebears had more decorum, but certainly had their fair share of dirty laundry, so to speak.

I loved my maternal Grandfather, but never really knew or cared for my father’s father.  I remember him being a somewhat grumpy old man with a mean little Chihuahua named, Tippy, who would growl at you if it wasn’t trying to hump you.  That dog summed up my father’s side of the family to me.  My uncle, Chuck, was a burly man, like my father, whom I barely recall, but I do remember his wife, my Aunt Shirley, who was so kind, and pretty, having what my mother called ‘spanking blue eyes’.  She also had long fingernails and would chase my brothers with her hands curled, claw-like, toward them.  She was the only good thing about my Dad’s family, as far as I was concerned.  I don’t remember my Dad’s mother at all.  I think we visited with them twice, that I can remember, because they lived in another state, several hours away.

My mother’s family lived mostly nearby, which is probably why I have such a drive to stay near my siblings and mother as well.  I often think about my mother’s family in terms of how we all ‘turned out’.  My mother was the last of eleven children, all born in the depression era, five boys and six girls.  My mother was the surprise baby, born after my Grandmother thought she was fertile anymore.  My mother was born into a hard-working family, my grandfather and several of his sons worked on the railroad, while several others made military careers.  The women in the family mostly ran their families, and a few held outside jobs, or pursued passions other than domestic concerns, but they all fared well, mostly.

My mother is the only child whose marriage ended in divorce, the only child who married an unpredictable, angry man, and the only child, that we know of, whose first child was the outcome of a rape, that she was nearly disowned for keeping after being sent to a home for unwed mothers with the express purpose of giving up her child upon birth.  My mother stayed with one of her older sisters for a while, and her parents finally relented and let her go home with my eldest brother.  She flailed for some time, but found work, and an apartment, and shortly after met my father.  He was in the navy, handsome, and fresh out of a hellacious home life, and a disastrous first marriage.

I saw Back To The Future, when it first came out, and I remember thinking that my life would have been so much better if my mother had made a better choice to begin with.  Of course, were that the case, I likely wouldn’t have been born, so it was a moot point, but I would gladly not have been born to have spared my mother from my father.

My grandfather was kind to me, and used to call me ‘tiger eyes’.  He would also buy me Lucky Charms cereal, a treat my mother would never have approved of, but he also used to give me Jordan Almonds, which I hated, and still do.  I enjoyed visits from my Grandpa Brousseau, and vaguely remember my Grandma Brousseau, who died when I was just three.  It’s odd that I still feel connected to her even though I never really knew her.  I suppose it’s a testament to how much my grandfather meant to me that my grandmother means just as much.  My grandfather was kind to me, but he was also strict.  One of the first things he’d demand upon seeing us was to show him our fingernails.  It was important to him that we keep our hands and fingernails clean.  I guess that was his determination of good breeding.  Thankfully, we usually had enough warning of his visits to clean our fingernails before he arrived.

I remember visiting my grandfather in the last few years of his life, and he said how tired he was.  He could barely hear anymore, and was fairly blind, losing his two favorite pastimes: listening to baseball games on the radio, and reading the newspaper.  He said he didn’t know why he kept waking up every day, and that was one of the saddest things to hear.

It’s hard to see someone you remember as robust seeming so frail and lackluster.  During my last visit, when I was in my twenties, he asked me to come sit next to him on his bed, and then he asked me to comb his hair.  I wish I had the understanding that I do now.  I was so embarrassed because it seemed like such a silly request to me then.  I’d give anything to go back with the understanding I have now and comb his hair – and he still had a fair amount of hair even at a hundred.  I recognize his request as a way to connect with me, but I was too self-conscious then.  It wasn’t like when I was eight and would have combed his hair gleefully.  I can’t get that time back, and all I hope is that my grandfather’s spirit knows that I understand now, and that I’m sorry I was so awkward then that he took the comb out of my hand and said ‘never mind’.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa.  I love you, wherever you are.

Here’s a video link to a short video shot by one of my cousins when my Grandpa Brousseau was 101: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bV-gmdb-w3A

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Streetcar Dreams

I brought a new character into the play, in my dream, last night – a child.  In the beginning of the dream, the child wasn’t known to me, but later she was a girl I have worked with on a couple of other shows.  She threw up in the rehearsal space/apartment the cast was staying at, and she threw up on the stage.  No one was cleaning it up, and I couldn’t find anything to mop it up myself.  I was so anxious about not stepping in it, and of getting it cleaned up before we would be performing that evening.

An old boyfriend of mine was outside in a parking lot, perhaps of the theater we were bringing the show to.  He was taller and broader than I remembered him, and was aged several years, as he would be, and I thought, ‘oh, maybe we’ll get back together!’, but when I said hello to him, and asked about his life, he looked somewhat disdainfully at me and told me he’s married, and works for himself.

Houses represent the self, so perhaps this show is helping my ‘inner child’ purge the emotional vestiges from my young life, or perhaps the opposite is true and I need to purge Blanche’s character out of me.  No matter what the similarities are, we are not the same.  I have options, and I am availing myself of those options.

This has been a lonely experience, but also a gratifying one in learning the lines, and being present to the other actors as best I can, bringing an excellent production to the community.  We have two more shows before the run is through, and I am looking forward to re-organizing my life once the play closes.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

First Show Weekend Done

The intensity of playing Blanche DuBois is slowly receding, but we have a pick-up rehearsal on Thursday, and then the last shows over next weekend.  I’ve been sad that we’ve had a sparse audience, but happy that we’ve got a great show – well worth the $12 dollar ticket price.

It’s been an interesting journey, and I have much more confidence that I can tackle most anything now.  I understand Blanche the way I was always going to understand her, but more deeply now.  She has much more depth, and even strength, than I’ve heard most people attribute to her, but Blanche is doomed, no matter what.

My dreams keep writing Blanche’s character differently.  She has more to say, and isn’t alright with her fate as written.  That’s good news, isn’t it?  My psyche isn’t willing to resign her to what’s been told.  In my mind, she heals in the institution.  Her psychotic break isn’t permanent.  The beauty of that ending is that I know it happens.  People go through horrific things and continue on, relatively intact.

I gave my best performances, and will continue to.  I have enjoyed evolving through each night.  I find a different nuance to Blanche’s character, or a better way to interact with the other characters.  Theater is beautiful because unlike life, you get to do the same thing over and over, and maybe not create different results, but bring something more to each performance.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Halloween Is Here Again, DPChallenge, I Wish I Were

I wish I were a child again – experiencing the night as I did all those years ago, the anticipation and fun.

I wish I were a young mother again – getting my son ready for Halloween night, and how much fun it was to roam the neighborhood with other moms and their children, witnessing the excitement, and helping create the sense of magic about to happen.

Spooky Halloween everyone! I hope you enjoy the day, and especially the night! Have fun and be safe. Cheers!

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Making A Way

On Hallowe’en, when I was around five or six (maybe even the same year I split my head open), my older siblings were allowed to leave on their own to go trick-or-treating, but I had to stay home until I finished my supper, and wait for my mom to get my little brother in his costume.

I remember thinking how completely unfair it was that I had to wait for my baby brother, and be treated ‘like a baby’, when my next oldest sister was only two years older than me, and she got to go out with my other sister and brothers.  After enough complaints, my mother warned me that she could leave me home while she brought my brother around if I kept harassing her.  I don’t think I uttered a word after that until we finally went out into the chilly night.

We had split-pea soup…

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Scarecrow’s Night

The pumpkin was now a Jack-O’Lantern lighting up the night, a visage peering from the porch to give the kids a fright.  A scarecrow without a head sat listlessly nearby, he had no eyes to see with, so couldn’t even cry.

Little Gretel Gardner saw what needed to be done; she bravely picked the Jack-O’Lantern up, though it made her want to run.  She set it down upon the neck of the body filled with leaves, and then stood back, no longer afraid, and feeling very pleased.

She thought she saw the scarecrow wink, and release a happy sigh, but knew, of course, it couldn’t be, it was just the breeze passing by.

Gretel went upon her way – she didn’t see the scarecrow turn – and didn’t hear him say, “I wish she wouldn’t go, for now I want to play!”  The scarecrow did his best to rise upon his shaky legs, but found he wobbled much too much, so stayed upon his ledge.

Oh, but the sights he saw that night!  A skeleton, a witch, a vampire, and a ghost – there was even an angel walking with a heavenly host.  Each came by and admired him, and he felt flushed with pride, but a terrible monster frightened him – even worse than the monster’s bride.

The night grew late, the pageant thinned, and the Jack-O’Lantern’s candle began to dim. The scarecrow knew that his time would soon come to a close, and he sighed again, as a tear dripped into his nose.  It was a sad little sigh, a lonely sigh, but just before the end of his light, he saw one last wondrous sight.

Little Gretel Gardner had slipped out from her bed, with a thought to bring the scarecrow a pillow for his head.  She felt sad to see how dim his glow, and said how she would miss him so – then kissed his cheek and hugged him tight, and told him how glad he had made her, this very scary night.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Wild Wind

The wind has been stirred up all day.  Tonight’s temperature is milder than this morning’s was, even though the wind never let up today.  Today started with yesterday in its mood although not composition.  It was a summer-like day yesterday, temperatures in the mid-seventies, barely any wind, and mild until after I got home around 11pm.

I had a late rehearsal for A Streetcar Named Desire, last night, and wasn’t feeling well when I got home, but attributed that to the local Pumpkin Festival’s Thai food vendor’s fare I had earlier in the evening.  I woke up this morning still feeling badly, so I laid low except to retrieve some items from my car, which is when I noticed how cold it had become overnight, with the wind punctuating that discovery.  I felt better as the day wore on, and studied some of my lines, and eventually got myself together to make band practice in the later afternoon.

The ride to my band mate’s house involved several enchanting moments of swirling autumn leaf showers, and a visual feast of bright and muted colors as I passed russet colored oak leaved trees, red, orange and yellow-leaved maples, yellow-leaved birches, brilliantly red-leaved sumacs, and other dazzling autumn colors in the many shrubs and vines I passed on my way.

It was fully dark outside by the time practice was over, but the wind had persisted and rushed around me as I made my way to my car.  The quarter moon hung low and deeply yellow-orange in the starlit sky, and I wouldn’t have been surprised to have entered another dimension.  (It would have been horrifying if I’d entered another dimension, just not surprising.)

I lingered at every stop sign on the way home tonight to hear the wind while I watched the moon.  I was reminded of several nights when my son was three or four and we lived in South Portland, Maine, and I would sit in my wicker rocking chair gazing up at the moon, while listening to the night wind.  I think those moments reside more potently in my memory because of how difficult my every day life was back then.

Tonight, however, was a night of power.  This month represents possibility to me, even though its natural significance relates diminished, rather than increased, potential.  Nothing new can start without shedding the old, and if the ancient religions had any validity, this time of year heralds the meeting of the seen and unseen worlds more strongly than at any other time of the year.

At the very least, I felt somewhat transported by the whispering winds’ incantations as I sat entranced in the glow of a bright and low quarter moon.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

September 26th, 2012

Happy Birthday to my beautiful son.  He is the best thing I have ever done, although I take no credit for his amazing capacities and talents.  He is his own person; I just ate well while he was growing inside me, and then made sure I fed him good food, gave him as many opportunities as I could afford, or could imagine, and taught him to appreciate reading, which he now loves.  His cognitive intelligence exceeded mine when he was about twelve, but my emotional intelligence stills beats his – hah!

He is bound to fare better in his life than I did in mine, and that is the best a parent can ask for.  I love you, my dear boy/man.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.