Dear friends and readers,
The above two photos were taken in 2008, the year Yvette graduated from Buffalo University with an MLIS, Masters in Libraranship and Information Technology. The first of the Admiral and I was taken by Yvette, the second of Yvette and me taken by the Admiral. We did love Niagara Falls, and went twice, once during the day and again in the later evening, walked and explored the place as far as our strength allowed.
Today was father’s day and Yvette and I remembered together this evening over our roast chicken and rice, a glass of wine for me and Tropicana orange juice for her. The admiral was never much for ritual demands for celebration, and saw both father and mother’s days as commercially motivated originally, but the first year we were mother and father (after the birth of Caroline) we did buy one another mother and father’s day presents. He bought me a Cuisinart Food Processor, something for the house you see — and proceeded to use it himself to cook with. Over the years we went through three. I forget now what I bought him that first year but it was also something for the house. We were imitating a conventional sort of family.
I remember tomorrow is Bloomsday. Two years ago the Admiral volunteered to read a passage from Joyce’s Ulysses and was given two. He did so well — no one knew him and they were surprised — that he was asked last year. He never lost his British accent altogether and he could do Irish and Scottish accents very well; also Hampshire (from which he came.) It was that he read with understanding too. He originally intended to participate again, but after the operation on June 3, 2013, he found he was still too weak. We thought at the time he was getting better and would do it again this year. Two years ago tomorrow I went to hear him the second time in an Irish bar, and that weekend we went a barbecue given by some of the leaders of the local Joyce society. Yvette came too. No more.
As I wrote in my obituary he was good father to his daughters, selfish and non-imposing, trying to give them advice to lead to remunerative careers, independence, but beyond that they could spend the four years of college learning what mattered to them. Yvette had a date today, with an Indian young man who said in Indian families there would have been a gathering. Well Yvette and I did our best at dinner.
Today I remembered my own father too, grieved again at his death in December 1989. Like my husband, my father died relatively young; the walls of his long irregularly-beating heart crumbled when he was 68. I’ve opened up to remembering how much I miss him for the first time since about a year after he died (I grieved for over a year). He was an important companion for me in my developing years, the central influence for my reading, my politics, so much, and in the last ones of our shared lives together we phoned once a week, talked for over an hour.
The missing him was strong for years afterward and is re-ignited because while the Admiral did not replace my father (they were such different people), Jim was at least here with me. My book on Trollope was dedicated to my father who loved reading Trollope and set me on the road back by bringing to me in a hospital after a dreadful car accident (I was the pedestrian hit by a woman under the influence of valium) with The Vicar of Bullhampton. I said in that book I came onto the Net to find a substitute for the companionship my father had given me. That is not an exaggeration for the first weeks I was here.
I like to remember my father in above photo, September 1980 just before we went to Virginia, up in the Hudson River park, my mother taking the photo. I am dressed in a style commensurate with his; there’s my Jim (not yet the Admiral, his hair still very dark). My father read well too: as a child he read to me Dickens (I remember the ice-skating scene from Pickwick Paper, and the famous passage ending “Sagacious dog, very.” And R.L. Stevenson’s “Sire de Maltroit’s Door” and “A Lodging for the Night.” I never forgot those stories afterward and probably that experience led to my love for RLS.