Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Death and Life

In Sidney Poitier's latest book, Life Beyond Measure, he offers wisdom and inspirational advice through letter writing to his just-born great-granddaughter, Ayele, realizing he'll probably be dead by the time she can fully grasp his reflections and meditations about life, for he's now in his eighties. I'm crazy about Poitier; I fell in love with the actor while watching the film "To Sir With Love" when I was eight years old. And I remember my parents shaking their heads over "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner," as the concept of inter-marriage between blacks and whites was a disgrace, or a shande, according to my Jewish family.

By the twenty-second letter in Poitier's book, he ponders:
Do our parents actually live on in us, or does just their memory? If so, is it more than memory? Is inside us the actual resting place of that elusive quality deemed their "soul," and thus is it passed on from generation to generation?

I've wondered the same mystery. Death snatched my mother, father, and two sisters within a couple of years. Where have my loved ones gone? My imagination plays tricks on me, or does it?

Sarah, my sixteen year old, awakened to a desire to play the viola, and also the violin, less than a year ago. Whenever Sarah plays, I hear my mother's musical voice, as if a direct link of interpretation and style exists between grandmother and granddaughter. The way Sarah's fingers wrap themselves around the fingerboard—my mother's hands. The determination and hint of softness in Sarah's eyes; my mother again. We play duets together, as my mother once played with me. Nature, the great Recycler.

My sisters, Judy and Karen, both of blessed memory, were endowed with the Kransberg ability to extract humor from almost any situation. Judy and Karen could make anyone see the light through laughter. My daughter Anna, I'm convinced, is a fusion of my sisters. Look what she did now. My Anna started her own blog. And guess what the topic is? Her parents! Gulp.
Photo of Sarah Talvi by Donglok Kim

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