Monday, 25 July 2011
The other evening, I had the opportunity to hear my grandfather’s voice. He’s dead now, and has been for 16 years. I remember him playing the piano and singing in a once-great-shakiness, sort of like our present day Paul McCartney.
I could not remember his voice after all these years. I think the voice memory must be the first thing to go about someone. His face and shape were well preserved, and I remember the things he did. But I couldn’t begin to describe his voice.
My aunt pulled out some tapes of his reciting poetry. Apparently he wasn’t just some ragtime pianist, but he, like his father, enjoyed memorizing and reciting poetry. I didn’t know this about him until last year, when I was looking through some old books in her house and found a collection of poetry by Robert Service, bound in a worn red fabric and yellowed and falling apart. It was given to my great-grandfather, in the winter of 1923—a gift from his Colonel.
There were a few other small collections of poetry from the likes of Walt Whitman, and a few more by Robert Service, all given to him as gifts over the course of years. This small discovery excited me, and I felt a genuine, little-girl like thrill at the thought that my love for poetry must somehow be in my blood. It all felt a lot more legitimate.
My fiance stood beside me, genuine awe and wonder on his face as my grandfather's voice washed over the room, through crackles and blurry sound. It seemed perfectly reflective of all I’ve been told about him—there was the itch from drinking and smoking, the prideful, expert awareness of beat and piercing…depth. A melancholy soaked in self-awarness, and escapedness—an old worldness, a loneliness, that I can only hear in the best sort of actors.
What touched me, besides this eerie and wonderful visit from the past, was my fiance's intent interest, even awe over the experience. He is just as thrilled by nostalgia, by poetry, by history, by family heritage as I am. I had a rich realization that he and I share the same wonder...the same longing for beauty. We share the same deep, bittersweet sense of...joy? I guess you could say. That joy that pierces from painfully beautiful pieces of art, music...or a grandfather's long lost voice.
What about you? Do you have the same "deep realization" moments concerning what connects you and you SO? Do interests, passions, or taste tie you together?