The Proxy

Do You Think Indra Will Like it? Louis Adan, called Emile, Frame gilding workshop. Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Angers

Hmm, perhaps it is special enough to put Der’s portrait in.

This may not be true for others, but moving house always gets me thinking about my personal history. Most of the time, in wrapping up an object, I’ll flash on a memory. They run the gamut, good, bad, happy, sad, ugly, beautiful, romantic, tragic, funny, weird . . . .

The other day I picked up a framed picture of the ocean. I was back in that moment, years ago, when I was sitting on the beach in maui with my family. We had an couple hours between plane changes. So we went to the beach. It was just after sunset. In the warm pink air, with the soft lapping ocean, I thought that moment was perfect. I still do.

Then I looked at the frame. I like to repurpose antique frames, mostly from the 1880s and 1890s. I love a heavily ornamented gilded frame. I like to use them for my favorite memories. When people walk through my place, they can tell right away what’s important, just by the frames.

On the other hand, most people just find my frames insanely inappropriate for the pictures in them. I don’t mind. And that thought, of inappropriate pictures, brought me to a memory from my childhood.

My Catholic grandmother had a friend who’s son was a pastor in one of those large, typically American, happy-clappy churches. She went there sometimes for the fellowship.

Anyway, this friend’s husband died. Even though friend and her husband were technically Lutheran, the memorial service was held at their son’s church. I can’t remember why, probably my gran was minding me and my grandfather couldn’t go with so I was the deputized proxy, but I went with her the day my gran went to the memorial.

The actual burial was held the day before. Thank heaven. So the was just a table with book and picture at the front of the sanctuary. There was a big turn out, over 500 people. It was a very nice memorial, music, video montage, memories, laughter, prayer. Eventually though, it ended.

People start heading for the refreshments (they had great pie) in large herds. After a few minutes, things cleared out significantly and my gran and I finally got a chance to walk down to the front, to the table where the condolences book and the photo of the pastor’s father resided.

My grandmother signed her name, and mine. But me? I couldn’t stop staring at the photo. The father lived a long life. I’m sure there were plenty of photos the family could have used. Why this one?

Later I overheard someone say the photo was selected because the father had been proud of military service. Still, even though I can understand that, I wouldn’t want my friends, family, and parishoners’ lasting memory of my father to be of him young and smiling — in a Luftwaffe uniform.

Like I said, weird memories.

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