New Memoir Tuesday! This weeks task: think of a sound or a smell the reminds you of something from your past and write a post about that memory.
The last of the light is on the run from the approaching evening, but the aluminum white siding of the house is still warm from the days earlier blaze. The warmth penetrates our light coats keeping at bay the encroaching fall chill. We sit against the house waiting, knowing that soon wistful, beautiful music will spill out the window coating us with the light footsteps of fairies and unrequited love. My mother touches her pale tapered fingers to the keys lightly and the slow trilling of the first few high notes mark the beginning of the tale. In these few moments a day, I can hear the love that is in my mother’s soul, even if she can’t share that love with me.
Quietly, underneath the music, whispered so as not to miss a single flight of notes my friend Carrie from up the street asks me, “So, what does divorce mean then?” And only because we are still in the beginning phrases that repeat do I answer, “It means they will be happier.” Or so I’ve been told.
The repeat is coming to an end and the music is about to pick up to the part where I always imagine tiny ballerinas spinning with their tulle skirts flaring at their waists. Quickly, Carrie launches her next question knowing that she won’t get an answer for a few moments, “Yea, but what does that mean?” As they spin in the air before my eyes, I consider the question. I’m too young for this conversation and wish that my parents would stop insisting on being the first at things. The first to put their daughter in an non traditional school, to have unconventional jobs, to want only one child, and now the first of many to get a divorce. As the music slows I respond, “I’m staying with dad and the house.”
Carrie looks at me puzzled, “Because of her eyes?” My mother has been diagnosed with a degenerative retinal disease that is slowly darkening her vision. One tomorrow, years away, her world will exist completely in the dark. Though this is a source of her sorrow, it is not the only one and somehow an understanding is born on the wings of Beethoven. She isn’t really leaving me behind, but gifting me to the better parent. The parent that I know loves me, the one who is as warm as his brown eyes and red beard.
We are getting to the angry part, where the heavy lower notes come in and try to stamp down the light upper ones so I say slightly louder, “No. Because she’s starting from scratch.” The upper notes fight and push back the thumping insistence of the bass.
“Do they even let dads have kids without moms?” Carrie asks. The light treble notes celebrate their victory by showing off the same trilling beauty they possessed at the beginning of the piece. As my mother lifts her finger from the last note letting the padded hammer finally rest against the piano’s wire, a terrible fear fills my heart, and the fragile stolen love of a daughter for a mother goes as dark and chilly as the evening.