Monday, December 19, 2011

Pressing buttons...

The last time I was at the thrift store, I picked up a book for 25-cents called Three Junes by Julia Glass. 

The gold seal on the front says “National Book Award Winner.” And indeed, it is a winner. Fenno, one of the characters in this finely crafted first novel, muses on the death of his mother…

Time plays like an accordion in the way it can stretch out and compress itself in a thousand melodic ways. Months on end may pass blindingly in a quick series of chords, open-shut, together-apart, and then a single melancholy week may seem like a year’s pining, one long unfolding note.

I like the accordion analogy almost as well as the “time is like a river…” Time does indeed seem to stretch out and compress itself. Time indeed does inexorably march forward, and we are coming up now on the first the anniversary of our son’s death. At times, this past year has indeed seemed to pass with blinding speed. And then again, it seemed that some on days we were slogging through molasses and the day would never end.

It often seems like that, even when one is not in the midst of some stressful event. Perhaps it has something to do with the right balance of “being busy” and having “nothing to do.”   

But, the bit about the accordion caused one of those “oh yes” moments too in another way. Funny, sometimes, how memories can be triggered.

My father’s 3 sisters and their families lived within a “long-day’s drive.” We frequently (but not always) spent holidays with these aunts and uncles and cousins. Sometimes they came down from central and northern California to see us and Grandpa, who lived nearby, or sometimes we piled in the car at the “crack of dawn,” usually the day after Christmas, and headed north, toward Carmel Valley or Sacramento, depending on which aunt we were going to see.

When we went to Yuba City, we usually stayed with Aunt Vera, probably because their daughter was just a little older than me. Cousin Mark was just a little younger than me.

I have many comforting of memories of Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays spent with these wonderful people who were our extended family. They sort of all mush together.

When I read that passage about the accordion I suddenly remembered that my cousin Mark had an accordion when he was “a kid.” I thought it was quite an amazing instrument. Half of the instrument was like the piano keyboard that I was familiar with because I was taking lessons, but I was fascinated by those smooth, little black buttons on the other side that were pressed to make the chords. The instrument was much to heavy for me to strap on and work, but I can remember him playing it and letting me push the buttons. And then I wondered how his fingers knew how to find the right button to press..


Cloudia said...

nice job!

Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral

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Far Side of Fifty said...

Wonderful thoughts about the accordion..especially the long unfolding note..I am glad it sparked a good memory for you:)