Monday Morning Musings:
“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
–Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
“Happy or unhappy, families are all mysterious. We have only to imagine how differently we would be described–and will be, after our deaths–by each of the family members who believe they know us.”
–Gloria Steinem, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions
“And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside.”
It’s a beautiful August evening,
not too hot,
puffy clouds drift across the sky,
pushed and choreographed by the summer breeze,
a lazy August sky dance.
We decide to take my mom to enjoy music
and wine at a local winery,
“Vino and Vibes” they call these Thursday night events.
So my husband drives back and forth through rush hour traffic–
west and over the bridge to Philadelphia to pick her up,
then east, back over the bridge
to the winery.
My mom says the big grey cloud is like the one
that seemed to follow her to the beach the previous weekend.
I assure her that it’s not supposed to rain,
She says it didn’t rain at the beach,
but it did, I say, then let it go
because she says she had a very pleasant day there.
My niece thought that day was a disaster.
This is why witnesses are unreliable–
except perhaps, Sherlock Holmes—
But I have no memory palace, do you?
perhaps most people-
have more of a memory vault,
or a deposit box
where deposits and withdrawals don’t always match.
We remember things as we wish,
see them lighter or darker than they were,
brightened by sunshine or darkened by storm clouds
of nature or nurture
or winds of war
or family wars.
I think of the variety of families,
nuclear and extended,
single parent, gay parents, straight parents
I think of the movie Captain Fantastic
that my husband and I just saw–
the couple’s desire to create
“philosopher kings” of their six children
living in their own paradise.
But the oldest son cries out to his father,
“Unless it comes out of a book, I don’t know anything.”
But what knowledge they do have!
And bonds of love and affection,
And though I love streaming Netflix and
sitting in my air-conditioned house,
years ago I tried to educate our children—books
over cable TV,
and I’ll never forget the neighbor who asked me
“Is Canada the one above or below us?”
Families are born, and families are made.
I learn a loved one’s foster family will be formally adopting him,
he, a grown man, over thirty,
a symbolic gesture,
but sweet and kind and loving.
They were the one who have stood by him,
who witnessed his marriage
when parents by blood chose not to do either
And though Tolstoy said all happy families are the same,
it isn’t true–
because all happiness is not the same, is it?
Or is it?
Surely there are differences and degrees
as with unhappiness.
My head aches trying to parse this thought
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love,
and we do many things for love.
and going places we really do not want to go
This is great. I love the view, the food, the people.
Little white lies.
But sitting here,
at this winery,
soft breeze blowing,
I watch my mom
sipping her wine
listening to the musician sing,
tapping her foot to “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”
and “Brown-Eyed Girl,”
And I feel love
Yes, I’m drinking wine,
and the cannoli help, too,
no doubt about it,
But there is happiness here–
whether it’s all the same,
I’ll leave that to you.