Sunday, January 23, 2011

Electra and Eurydice

So, once again, I am taking time off from my real job to work on my book.  And, once again, I am writing about my dad.  I always write about my dad.  A psychiatrist would probably label me with an Electra complex, but that's not it.  I didn't idolize my dad in life and certainly don't now in death.  I think I write about him, because he was so wrapped up within himself, he was lost to his own children.  We never had him, didn't really know him, but after much time and reflection, I have come to terms that I don't really need to know a person to love him, anyway.

My mom has always been more accessible, talks easily and openly about everything.  She held back a few secrets until I reached adulthood, and now, there are no secrets.  She reaches out like I do, with the belief that words heal all, that the right words in the right order hold a magic and a power.  I've heard all of her stories many times, but the one which molded her is a story which happened before she was made, a story which made her life possible.  My grandfather's first wife was on her way to the hospital to deliver her fifth child, and her last.  This was the first time Izero had delivered a baby in hospital.  My mother's half sister, only five, watched her mother pack up to leave for a few days and wanted desperately to run up and hug her mother goodbye, but she didn't.  And she never saw her mother alive again.  My grandfather remarried, had my mother with his new wife, and many years later, I was born, to grow up hearing how tenuous is life, and how people will leave us without warning.  Never hold grudges and always fix what I can; this is what I was taught, because like Orpheus learned, once Eurydice is gone, she is gone forever.

And in the meantime, to write my dad's story and do him justice, I have to get inside his head, when he was a boy and packed up what he could carry to leave his home in Upper Silesia forever.  How many times did he look back, as he hurried away?  I will never know, so I have to invent an answer.  Fiction works best, in writing what is true; paradoxical, I know. 

So, both my parents made me who I am, but my mom much more so.  Because even though the story I write is based on my dad's life and rewritten to give him absolution and a happy ending of sorts, the fact that I write is due to my mother, and because of her I care so much for others.  Someday, the people I love will be gone, but first, I will be.  That is a near certainty.  So, I hope when my girls write my story and try to make sense of my life, they remember me picking them up and swinging them in my arms to radio music, that they remember us opening a tab and playing Carmena Burana while we rated guys on Hot or Not, that they remember us reading aloud from the Great Brain series, Phantom Tollbooth and all the others.  I don't want to be a character in a Greek tragedy.  I just was happy to be their mom, and a good friend to mine, and a daughter, and maybe, if I find an audience, a writer, too. 

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