Voices from the past.
There’s this video. It was taken in March, 1998. I was 15, and my grandfather was being honored as Boston’s Irishman of the Year. The ceremony was at the Kennedy Library, and everyone in my family was there. Someone was going around with a home video camera and trying to capture it. There’s my great aunts, Mary and Jo. Aunt Mary died of dementia, but was a huge part of my childhood, this hugely generous woman with the world’s biggest heart. Aunt Jo died in her convent — a nun, but not like the terrifying nuns I went to school under. She gave me a couple of books on saints that made my brother and sister tease me forever. She was funny, smart, lovely.
My grandmother appears a few times at the head table, graciously chatting with everyone. She was such a good hostess. My grandfather wasn’t a politician, per say, but his various jobs meant that my grandma had to be as polished as a politician’s wife. You can see it here, and see her pride for her husband. She only died a few years ago.
There’s my grandfather. This was pre-stroke, so he was in all his quick spoken glory. He’s meeting and greeting all the people there to honor him. He’s standing at the podium, giving a clever speech. Even though he died years ago, I could bring his voice to mind without even trying. There are few people in my life I’ve ever admired more.
And then there’s the part that made me so sad yesterday. There’s my mother. She died later that same year. She was so proud of her dad, and so ready to take the opportunity to needle him a little bit. She was truly her father’s daughter. I hadn’t remembered that she had such a strong accent, or that she sounded so much like her sisters. I hadn’t remembered her voice at all, I guess.
Every time I thought of this video yesterday, my mood plummeted. It’s not that I wasn’t glad to have it. I am, I am so grateful I got the chance to listen to it, to see all those people again. It’s just that grief lurks and is always ready for an opportunity to come alive again. So I guess I was still grieving a little bit yesterday. And so all the things that normally either don’t bother me at all or which make me happy were pure annoyances yesterday. I had to be my own catholic guilt yesterday, making sure I finished everything on my to do list.
I feel better today, which is how these things work. Settled back down. Woke up this morning — well, not with a song in my heart, but also not with the mean reds. So, off I go, sticking to my to do list and focusing again.