From The Heart - Part IIThursday, April 29, 2010
My friend Paul came over yesterday and tried to help us in our quandary about what to do with our present situation. We live in a big house with a big garden and we now have virtually no income. What I do, photography, has lost its value. Principal to our quandary is what to do with our material possessions if we are to soon pick up sticks.
For me material possessions are the go-between myself and someone else dear to me. Any Eric Ambler book in my collection is a window into my mother’s soul. I can see her in perfect Technicolor reading A Coffin for Dimitrios.
Paul’s Hungarian-born mother died last January and left a treasure of old-country furniture and knick knacks. Paul told us nobody wanted any of the mementos as they only had a meaning to his mother. Paul and his brother's children perhaps did not understand their significance.
The little heart of diamonds of my grandmother mentioned in this blog still burns a hole in my heart from its safekeeping in our bank box. Who will want it? Will it be pawned? Will it lose its sentimental value when I die? After all I am the only one left who remembers whence it came.
While Paul was talking of his mother’s unwanted mementos he glanced at the many pictures on our walls. Rosemary said, “Ale’s walls are already full and Hilary has no wall space to speak about.”
I watched Rosemary’s expression change to sadness as she was not prepared to listen to the objective opinion of an outsider to our mutual problems. For me, because it is objective, it is valuable. In fact Paul suggested we consult a real expert as he (Paul) was an amateur in this sort of thing.
I looked again at our walls and I could feel a nasty swell of small rebellion to what Paul was saying.
“Paul,” I said the pictures on our walls are more than mementos. They are valuable pieces of art as I may sometimes consider myself an artist.” I kept to myself the salient fact that if they indeed are valuable why has nobody been willing to buy them?
I remembered again sitting next to Abraham Rogatnick (in his housecoat) at his kitchen window while people flocked to buy the art stuff and mementos he had for sale in his one day garden, sale a few weeks before he died. If he was suffering as the stuff was carted away he kept it to himself.
Rosemary worries about the back hoe that would indeed plow over our roses and perennials when we sell our house. Even a move to a small garden would not enable us to take our trees which we planted so many years ago. They are far too big.
For me this would not be difficult. I would take a reverse version of the cold water pool plunge where instead of easing yourself into the cold water you simply jump in. I would sell, turn around and never look back.
I remember the old Scottish gentleman across the lane who sold his house. His backyard apple tree which had never given fruit in many years suddenly did right after he sold. He caught me in the garden one day and he looked in. “I miss my house,” he told me as he tried not to look in the direction of the empty lot and the big hole where his house had once been. He died a few months later. I remember thinking how foolish he had been to have sold his house not realizing that time would fly and find me in his situation. Perhaps there is no apple tree but will Rosa ‘Fair Bianca’ be allowed to bloom one more time? Yes, I must turn around and never look back.
Sensing my wife’s troubled soul this morning I perhaps exacerbated it by saying, “I don’t care what happens to our garden, to our books and to my negatives in the basement. I just want to request that this framed picture of Rebecca on my left, by our bed, be wherever I may be, next to me, before I breathe my last. It is a good photograph which proves that I am an artist to myself. In the end, before the lights go out, that is really the only important thing.”
We Latins can be dramatic about such stuff, but then that’s why we are Latins. Now thinking back to when Paul was going through the agony of his mother's protracted death I thought that, I too, may have been a tad objective and not very comforting with him. It never ocurred to me that Hungarians, are sort of Latins, too.
From The Heart