Counting My Blessings - A Is For ZebraMonday, March 30, 2009
This morning I photographed a prosperous lawyer from Vancouver’s largest tax law firm. I had last photographed him 20 years ago and he was in need of a new photograph for his firm’s web page. We spoke at length as to what we had done since we last met in the studio all those years ago. I was floored when he told me that he had two sons in their 20s and that both had muscular dystrophy. It seems that both inherited it yet as far as my subject lawyer could recall nobody in his family had ever had the disease. I looked at my subject’s face lines (many but a handsome man indeed) with a different light.
I called a friend after my shoot. We had a chat and a coffee at the Sears Starbucks. My friend has a teenage son with an active version of autism. I was thinking of my Maserati Biturbo when he told me of his travails with his son. I remember one day that I was driving my maroon Maserati on the ramp leading to the Granville St Bridge. I applied to the gas pedal enough pressure “to clean the sparkplugs” as my friend Sean Rossiter would say. My passenger was rocker/journalist John Armstrong. He was wowed as his head stuck to the seat at the sudden surge of the twin turbos. I remember telling Armstrong, “This car is rarely without some mechanical malady but when it is just right it soars and the noise from the tailpipes is pure music.”
The only problem is that whenever I voice this or even think of it, something breaks and I have to spend a lot of money. A couple of days after the bridge incident my car developed a transmission clunk. I finally gave up trying not to think or to tell anybody what a pleasure it was to drive my Maser because I was emptying my bank account and transferring all of the funds to one very happy and ever richer Girolamo Clemente, my lucky mechanic. I parked the car and it lies forgotten in my garage.
I was thinking of my Maserati because I was thinking of my family and how none of my daughters have any diseases or health issues. Our granddaughters, Lauren and Rebecca are healthy, too and pretty to boot. Could things be any better? Is this a Maserati situation where I should keep my mouth shut and not even think of it?
My friend at coffee said something like, “I am jealous of you but happy for you. Take advantage of it.” He need not have said it as I am now fully aware of my luck.
I told my Hilary and my granddaughters at the table tonight (Rosemary was away taking a computer course) how I savoured the moment we had together and if it meant I had to cook for them (something I always do when they come over) I would do it gladly. I told them that if I was suddenly diagnosed with some sort of lethal cancer I would not be fazed as anything past half a century is just extra. I have almost 17 years of extra time. When I mentioned that dying at this point would not upset me in the least it was Lauren (6) who said, “You should not be talking about these things at the dinner table.” Rebecca added, "You must live one day at a time and enjoy it." I am sure that at her age (11) I would have never thought of such "rubbish" or even dared to have uttered the recommendation to my grandmother.
After our dinner Rebecca and Lauren invited us to a puppet show. One puppet (Rebecca as a dog) would say, “A is for airplane.” Lauren, the rabbit would repeat, “A is for zebra.” The dog would get furious and make the rabbit repeat it correctly. The next time around the rabbit would again say, “A is for zebra.” And on it on it went and I laughed!
Thinking about Art Bergmann’s concert on Thursday I had a look at all my Bergmann records, tapes and CDs. There was one I had forgotten about, Art Bergmann –Design Flaw where he plays a 6 string and a 12 string acoustic guitar while being accompanied by Chris Spedding on electric guitar. There was no drum, no bass, nothing to distract from the lyrics and that unique Bergmann voice. As I listened to my fave, the Hospital Song, Hilary read the very complete liner notes of the Zulu release Young Canadians – No Escape which is all about Art Bergmann’s early career.
Tonight has been about as perfect a night as I could possibly imagine. I found this picture of Hilary taken with my Widelux, swivel lens panoramic camera. I asked Hilary a few questions. She was 17 and it was late spring. She was in grade 11. She had been invited to the graduation of one Thomas Chromey who was graduating from Kitsilano High School. Hilary is wearing Rosemary’s Mexican colorín jewelry. I asked Hilary about the dress. “I borrowed the dress from Ale (her older sister) who had many formal dresses because she went to York House (a Vancouver private school for girls).” I looked at the picture. We had moved to Athlone three years before, in 1986. The three conifers on the right are all gone. They succumbed to root rot. The garden is changed. But we are still happily here.
I am thankful and appreciative that we are.