THE WAY WE WEREN’T

The trouble with turning memories into memoirs is that when one is finished, a sneaky feeling comes along: “Things never were that way, anyway.” –Jean Negulesco (1900-93), Academy Award-winning movie director

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I’ve just finished reading Jean Negulesco’s memoir (coincidentally, he died 25 years ago today) titled THINGS I DID AND THINGS I THINK I DID. The above quote is from that book–as is his reflection on having raised, with his wife, two adopted daughters from war-torn, post-WWII Germany:

And so it starts, and so it ends. And we see ourselves in them. There is no sense in telling them, “When I was your age….” We never were their age. 

“We never were their age.” And so it is with us. We’ve never been ‘inside’ them–even our own children. When all is said and done, we’re lucky if we know ourselves–now, then or in-between–which is not to say that, along the way, we were not open to wanting whatever knowledge romance promised….

They say “You can’t go home again”–even if your old haunts still exist, your past and its ghosts stay with you, not with where you were….not so? So, where do we go?

Now, I’m as nostalgic as the next old geezer, but as my past recedes further into the past, I look at old photos, see the images of faces and places I knew, and there’s no avoiding the sense that the road between THINGS I DID AND THINGS I WISH I DID leads to a place where the sun sets before we get there.

Sooner or later, it’s all over but the doubting. It’s the place where (to paraphrase a phrase) OLD GHOSTS NEVER DIE, they….just….fade….a w a y

Still….

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THE DEAD HAVE SPOKEN….

There are too many books I haven’t read, too many places I haven’t seen, too many memories I haven’t kept long enough. –Irwin Shaw, playwright, screenwriter, novelist and author of Bury The Dead

The dead have spoken….
but the living have moved on.
Hear their voices left in your mind,
keep their memories in the images
that are reborn in shared solitude.
Who among us has not known the haunting fear,
whispering we might not survive the silence?

MISS MOLLY SPECIAL

Today is the birthday of a VERY SPECIAL MISS in the lives of mister & missus muse ….and, a very SPECIAL BIRTHDAY as well, for it’s Molly’s sixteenth. Yes, by golly, Miss Molly turns sweet sixteen today, and if I do say so, no sweeter girl has ever turned sixteen — and I do say so, because she has been part of our lives each and every one of those years. But little did we know this would be the case on June 5, 2000, when our next-door neighbor brought her into the world.

We had just moved into the neighborhood nine months before Miss Molly arrived. Not long thereafter, during a get-together at our house, Molly’s parents asked us a question. Our answer would turn out to lead to enriching the rest of our lives: they asked us if we would take care of Molly on weekdays while they were at work. Although retired, we had plenty to keep us busy….but we said yes, and the rest is her story. Before we knew it, she became the ‘grandchild’ we didn’t have, just as close and dear to us as if she were our own.

Those first pre-school years remain particularly cherishable (if that’s a new word, there’s no extra charge) as she grew from babyhood and toddlerhood into the little girl I played games (and yes, dolls) with for hours. What an old softy she made of me! On 3/17/04 we began keeping track of her height (3’5″ tall) on a basement wall; the last of many such lines on that wall is dated 3/16/15 (5’4″) — a mark, you might symbolically infer, of how she continued to grow on us as the years slipped by.

After she started school, she and her older brother were with us for only a few hours after school each day during the school year, but in summer, it was back to full-time grandparenting, including outings to parks, miniature golf, and other venues. Now, all of a sudden, her brother is on active duty in the military, she is taking driving lessons, and I’m a veteran of sizing up Happy 16th Birthday cards, seeking just the right one. Time flies when you’re having fun. 🙂

I would show pix of Miss Molly but, considering I haven’t told her I was writing this post, that’s not in the cards without her OK. So I hope that instead of a picture being worth a thousand words, in this instance only 421 words will be worth a picture….or perhaps (with love) just four words:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MISS MOLLY!

HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU, KID

All I ever wanted was for someone to know what’s inside me. -Dane Clark to Ida Lupino, death scene, DEEP VALLEY, 1947

Surrounded by color,
now we look back
at memories of ourselves
and see that no
one knew us as did
our celluloid stand-ins.
Not our parents.
Not our siblings.
Not our friends.
Not even ourselves.

The stuff dreams
were made of?
It was all
up there
in black
and white.
But
it
all
wentbysofast.