What a damn emotional day.
Today I went down to a funeral in Queens. My friend Craig’s mom passed away.
It’s strange how words can impact or steer a person through years of life at a time. It doesn’t happen very often for me, and mostly I recognize that the ship has turned it’s course after looking back in hind sight through years of time. But sometimes if there’s a special aire about a person, or a certain glow radiating from them, you know there’s something you should be listening to and remembering in their words. Craig’s mom was a beauty queen when she was young. She was smart and elegant. She always had a spiritual way about her. Life was good and she had everything positive going for her, then she was paralyzed.
That might dim the light on someone else’s inner glow, but Craig’s mom was different. Of course all that happened before I ever met her, but it wouldn’t have stopped me from seeing her for who she was. Meeting her was enough to understand that in this life she never really walked the earth so much as she could glide over it, and see it all as if from a celestial perspective. She could see ahead, and she could look back. Not across land or sea, but more through time, or even deeper… the ages.
Craig was my room mate in college, and back in the day his personal passions were clearly art, music, photography, script writing, and sculpting. But, in today’s world you know Craig’s work in the “10 Mountains 10 Years” movie poster.
In college though he was a film student, and on his first week in the dorm he went around video taping anyone and everyone. The first weekend came and he went home with loads of footage from the first week at school and showed his mom. I seem to remember him filming her at home too, and bringing that back to show us.
After watching Craig’s video’s and seeing me for the first time, Craig’s mom told me things about my family which I never knew, and didn’t actually go on to learn for myself until years later. She also told me things about myself that were prophetic. It’s not even a stretch of the imagination to believe that part of the way I am now, and why I do what I do is because she had enlightened me.
On the way home from the funeral I was making my way across Queen’s past the old site of the 1964 World Fair, and I remembered a photo of my mom by a fountain there when she was young. The photo was engraved in my mind and it struck me that I wanted to find where she sat in the photo.
Ok so I’m weird like that, but I wanted to find the exact spot and touch the stone she sat on all those years ago.
In a half life clouded by the mists of Alzheimer’s Disease where you spend part of life collecting memories and the other half forgetting them all, sometimes I just want to remember an image of the way she was. Today though, I wanted to actually touch a little bit of the way it was. I wanted to connect with the way life used to be.
So, I steered the car off the road and into the parking lot. I’d never been in Flushing Meadows Park before, and I really didn’t know where I was going. It didn’t matter, I knew the spot was here somewhere and I was going to find it. I wasn’t in a rush. My navigational instincts had been seared into me at a young age when I got lost on a Welsh beach, and has since has always been a friend of mine. I was just going to keep looking for the image of the photo I held in my mind until I found it.
The air was cold, the leaves were scattered on the ground, and although the grass was still green I could feel that the ‘Winter of Life’ was now biting like a wolf at my mothers heels.
The pool was empty, so I stepped in and walked across the painted blue floor underneath the giant sphere. Looking up at the metal form of Australia I thought of my relatives living there, and wondered how life might have been for me if my mom had moved us to Brisbane. Ah, that’s a long story from slightly before I was born which clearly impacted and brought me into character for today, but it’s a story for another day.
Then there was Africa. I thought, “I was there”, looking up to the spot where Kilimanjaro sits. Just above it I could see Sicily, Italy & Spain, and for a moment I stopped to reflect on my friends Fulvio, LuzBel, Claudia, Paula & all the amazing people I’d just met there on my film tour. There up above them was the Garden of England catching the last light of the steel globe’s day. I sat down looking up at it thinking about my family there too, and remembered street where my mom grew up. I also thought of a girl named Jacqui who had just emailed me from the Northampton earlier today with news of a project we were starting to develop together.
If only we could really travel the world so fast, I’d never miss anyone. I’d go here and there on a moment’s notice just to say hi and then hi again. I hate the word goodbye, and I never say it unless I mean it.
A few more steps, and I walked around to the left under South America and thought of the day Jen Yee stepped onto the summit of the Volcano Cotopaxi while our future team mates Luc & Benny waited for us to reach the rim. Then I looked up above it to North America. I was definitely in the mood for reflection, but America is too big, too many people, too many memories, and too many thoughts for now. I could have laid down looking up and thought of you all for hours, but I was looking for a memory of my mom somewhere in this park and decided it would be better for me to move on.
This is my mom at the 1964 Worlds Fair in New York City. She’d just recently moved to NY from Birmingham, England. This was literally and metaphorically the ‘Summertime of her Life’. She was out in her Venetian Gondola Pilot shirt, enjoying the weather with one of her friends.
Look at her, not a care in the world! She was an ocean away from home, meeting new people, and having fun living in a big strange new land.
In 1964, sitting on the wall at this reflection pool, I wasn’t even a thought in her mind. But, time gives and time takes away. Today, there’s not much of any thoughts left in my mom’s mind. Today I could just as well be the stranger behind the camera who took her photo at the fountain.
Beyond the Giant Sphere I could see a long series of fountains leading down toward a pond in the distance. I was close. I could remember my mom sitting near these fountains with her back toward the globe.
I passed two fountains then looked back and thought… “No, the globe is too close.”
I passed another fountain pool and looked back thinking “I see the statue but the globe is still too big”.
I walked down past the last fountain pool then looked back and thought “Here I am. It’s all just right. The fountains, the statue, the scale of it all. I’m close.” Now I just wanted to find & touch the stone.
So, I walked along the edge of this low stone wall framing the edge of the pool. Step after step I ran my hand along the stone top and the mortar joints the whole way across from one end to the other, and back again. Where was the spot though? I knew I must have just touched it somewhere on that wall.
Humm. So I climbed up onto the wall and looked at the pond to my right then thought, “In that photo, my mom was looking at this pond. So this is what she saw.”
The Worlds Fair is gone. The crowds are gone. The boats on the pond are gone. The Summertime of her Life is gone, but she’s still here and I can feel her in the cold wintery air. I looked down along the wall about 20 feet away, and realized she was sitting right there. I could feel the hair on my head stand on end and my hands start to tingle as I walked over to the spot. I bent down and touched the stone once again then moved my hands through the air just above it, as if I were moving them right through her.
“So here you were mom, and in this world you still are. Sitting beside yourself in a way, separated by the seasons, the years, and an empty ocean of memories. You might not remember me, but I remember you.”
“I remember you the way you were, in a time before I was born. In the summer of 1964.”
( ( ( http://youtu.be/699cZHpW88Y ) ) )
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