Because I needed to weep some more . . . once again . . .

This is a repeat of a blog that I posted in 2013. The video showed up on my tumblr dash today, and it still hit me as hard as it did the first time, and since I am mired in forms and calculations and percentages, this is probably far better than anything I could come up with my own. I suggest watching the video as large as allowable.

The Encounter Collection by Stephen Kenn explores the significant act of passing an object on from one generation to the next. It is in this exchange, accompanied by words of wisdom, that a boy is often called to a life of courage. While aware that everyone’s life experience is unique, and often painful, this film focuses on the experience of a boy losing his father and yet retaining the love and passion that was intended for him.

Stephenkenn.com
ProcessCreative.tv

DISCIPLINES
Creative Development: Process Creative and Stephen Kenn
Ideation
Direction
Production
Cinematography
Editorial

Music Curation: Ryan Taubert
Sound Design: White Noise Lab
Color: Matt Fezz
Letter and Voice Over: James Watson
Young Boy: Bradley Aiello
Boy: Lucas Aiello

Stephen Kenn // Process Creative // The Encounter Collection

(Transcript as best as I can decipher it, * indicates unknown. Corrections welcomed)

20 October 1944
US Army/Air Force Base
Spinazzola, Italy

Dear Son,

I hoped I would never write this to you. In a little less than an hour I’ll be strapping myself into my old plane and pointing it nose westward. I’ve seen the orders . . . I think it’ll be for the last time.

And so suddenly I find my life stripped away, like the branches of an old, black tree. All that matters is that I write this to you. I know you won’t remember me, not really. When I spent three days with you last year when you were six months old, and, though you can’t yet understand it, I . . . loved you more then than you might imagine loving anybody right now.

Now listen to me. This uh life, know that it is precious. You’ve gotta grasp at every little whiff of it that passes by you. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be certain. Not now, and not in your unimaginable future. Don’t be surprised, no. Embrace the stiff winds, and the lonely heights.

Remember your name. Never turn away from the bright course because it is hard. But above all, love. Scrape out the bottom of your soul and love for all your worth.

And when you find her, risk everything. Die a thousand deaths to get her. Don’t look back. When you grow older, older than I’ll ever be, blow on the embers of that first heroic choice. And you’ll be warmed, sustained.

Someday you’ll have a son. Remember he is your greatest gift. Tell him these things. Make a man of him. Love him.

Don’t live to get money. Have a few things, but make them good things. Take care of them, learn how they work. There is beauty in the smell of good machines and old leather.

When you walk, alone, in the autumn. Down roads at night, with the trees tossing in the sunset, know that I would give everything to walk with you, and tell you their names. But I am there, in the light through the branches. And I am loving you where I see you.

I must go now.

All my love, forever and ever,
Dad.

“Time does not bring relief; you all have lied…” ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay, from “[Time Does Not Bring Relief]”

Daphne Allen Night Covers the World with her Hair c1914-16

“Night Covers the World with Her Hair (c1914-16, watercolor)
by Daphne Allen

                   

“In the uncertain hour before the morning
Near the ending of interminable night” ~ T. S. Eliot, from “Little Gidding”

In the first part of the dream, the surgeon cuts out a small piece of my mother’s heart, about the size of a quarter. He hands it to me and tells me to pump it whenever she dies, and it will bring her back to life. I take the small piece of flesh and examine it, see the striations, wonder how I am supposed to do this. I awaken to the phone ringing.

Somehow, I go back to sleep, and the dream continues: My mother has come back to life, even though she died, even though she has been cremated (but in the dream she has been buried next to my father), she is back, and she knows that this is just a temporary pardon. For some reason, I go to a city official’s office. I don’t think it’s for a job interview, but it might be. He likes me. Not like that, but in a professional admiring way, says that he might be able to find a position for me in his government. I leave and go to a room where employees can rest. An old friend from high school is there, and she is still playing games with my head. We see a pile of shoes that someone has delivered as give-aways. I see a pair of sandals that I would like to get for Alexis, but I am not interested in the pumps with spiked heels as I no longer need to wear heels to work, but then I think that I might get this job. Someone comes to get me, tells me that the boss is waiting for me. I find out that there is a huge meeting of all the employees, and I’m late. I get a phone call at the last minute, and I find out that Corey is at work with a female co-worker, has no intention of taking care of my mother because he’s decided to stay with this woman, and I realize that my mother is at home alone, and I know that she is going to die soon. I have to decide between making the telephone call or going to the meeting. I take my phone into the meeting. My friend from high school is supposed to help me with the presentation, but she keeps messing me up on purpose to make me look stupid. I walk out, finally get my mother on the phone. She has walked down the block. I ask her why she has left the house as she knows that she is dying. She tells me she cannot sleep, and cannot stay in the house forever. I find her on the neighbor’s lawn. She is not dead yet. I put my hand in my pocket looking for the part of her heart that the surgeon has given me, but I cannot find it. I realize that no one is going to help me.

I am awakened once again by the telephone ringing…………………

Music by Andy Shauf, “Comfortable with the Silence”

                    

Go Ahead; Goodbye; Good Luck;
and Watch Out

You get to Gilead, let me know. That balm,
supposed to be so good for human hurts
—all wounds, holes, hollows, hungriness—
you tell me if it’s there, and how it works.

Till the time comes, I’ll look for further ways
with the old lack, the void, push it along
ahead of me in the only way we have
to carry this luggage of ours of hungriness
like an empty bag. You look, though. Let me know.

~ William Bronk

“I stand here ironing, and what you asked me moves tormented back and forth with the iron.” ~ Tillie Olsen, from “I Stand Here Ironing”

Edgar Degas Woman Ironing c1876-87 oil on canvas

“Woman Ironing” (c1876-87, oil on canvas)
by Edgar Degas

                   

You’ve heard of something being as boring as watching paint peel? How about being as boring as ironing a shirt? Yep. Ironing a shirt. The pure mundane nature of this video kind of represents my daily goal at the moment: to keep things as mundane as possible, else I become overwhelmed by it all . . . that and it’s pretty cool to see how someone actually achieves all of those creases, not to mention it reminds me of the days I used to iron Corey’s Coast Guard shirts with the required seven creases, two in the front, three in the back and one on each sleeve, which reminds me of one of my all-time favorite short stories: “I Stand Here Ironing,” by Tillie Olsen, which is where I got the name Tillie for our labrador. That’s one big heap of memories all from a man ironing a shirt, which just goes to show that no matter how hard you try to keep things simple, you can’t . . .

                   

Ironing Their Clothes

With a hot glide up, then down, his shirts,
I ironed out my father’s back, cramped
and worried with work. I stroked the yoke,
the breast pocket, collar and cuffs,
until the rumpled heap relaxed into the shape
of my father’s broad chest, the shoulders shrugged off
the world, the collapsed arms spread for a hug.
And if there’d been a face above the buttondown neck,
I wold have pressed the forehead out, I would
have made a boy again out of that tired man!

If I clung to her skirt as she sorted the wash
or put out a line, my mother frowned,
a crease down each side of her mouth.
this is no time for love! But here
I could linger over her wrinkled bedjacket,
with the hot tip. Here i caressed complications
of darts, scallops, ties pleats which made
her outfits test of the patience of my passion.
Here I could lay my dreaming iron on her lap…

The smell of baked cotton rose from the board
and blew with a breeze out of the window
to the family wardrobe drying on the clothesline,
all needing a touch of my iron. Here I could tickle
the underarms of my big sister’s petticoat
or secretly pat the backside of her pajamas.
For she too would have warned me not to muss
her fresh blouses, starched jumpers, and smocks,
all that my careful hand had ironed out,
forced to express my excess love on cloth.

~ Julia Alvarez