Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rememberance: Unprepared and Late for my Dad's Service

It was typical that I should attempt too much for the memorial service. I insisted it was all vitally important, rejected suggestions for simplification, thought I might even make it to the funeral home to get the death certificate and then Brooklyn for the mail while printing the programs, editing the slide show, writing my speech, and collecting a guest list to use to issue tickets for the reception (tickets because? well I thought hoards of strangers, possibly crazed fans of my father's writing or worse heckling enemies would show up and then we would not be able to keep them away}.

Okay, so I did not fail exactly. I got there... with about a quarter of the programs we needed, not all of the names from the meticulously collected list, no speech written, and half an hour late. But I guess it was okay. It reminded me that I have limitations.

I want to try to capture what I said about my father here. It was amazing speaking directly after my sister because our experiences were so different. We may as well have been living in different houses. Four people spoke before her and no one came out and said anything negative or surprising including Suz. All they had to say was, "Well, you know Ed..." When Prof. Adorno described him as highly opinionated I actually laughed because it sounded like an understatement. It got me thinking about whether anyone could understand what it was like to be raised by such a man.

My sister's speech was so great. I have to get a copy. Nobody seems to know why Ed was so angry. I've asked everyone in his family and they all had different answers. Racism. He thought he was white until he joined the air force and had to sit in the back on the trip to South Carolina for basic training. That was in 1954.

So back to my speech. My sister's concludes with a brilliant quote about when a man dies part of mankind dies. This after memories of all of the brilliant topics Ed taught us. I must have been spacing out during those times because all I remember were the bizarre confusing statements he made and that I took them as absolute truths because he was my father and he was smart and always right. Suz kept saying he taught us about astronomy, anthropology, politics, and not just like that but she remembers the specifics. I was shaking my head when she said he taught US, not us maybe you. That stuff flew over my head or I was too busy fantasizing about my real parents coming to pick me up and bring me back to the palace where I was supposed to live as Princess Arena. I had never heard the name Serena and the sound of the words Princess Arena were like silk the way the slipped together so smoothly. So when I get to the podium with my bare bones outline of an idea, I was relaxed and kind of amazed that my memories are of the book I said I would write some day called The Sayings of Chairman Ed. He thought it was hilarious and a great idea. The Collected Quotes of Chairman Ed.

1. Stop throwing like a girl. I tried. I did everything I could to use my whole arm, to imitate that motion he and my brother's used to get the ball to sail long distances and with great force but I just couldn't do it. First of a I am a girl so that made it a strange thing to say. Also I have since learned that besides my complete lack of ability to translate any sort of oral direction of what my body is supposed to do into actual motion, girls do not have the same bones and muscles boys have.

My insomnia is wearing off I will continue tomorrow.


Allison Guerriero said...

You and Suz both did a lovely job. And you were funny too!! It was a hard thing to get through, but it wass a nice service.

Shayne said...

Thank you for commenting on my blog. I knew your sister was talented and I'm pleased to see that her sister is such a talented writer.

I mourn for your loss and I wish you peace.

Imara Ushairi said...

I wanted to thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog, but I must say that your remembrance is a moving and beautiful piece. I lost my father last year and I can definitely appreciate your clear words. Thank you for sharing.