My father was an artist, and saw the world through those eyes – through music and books and photography and poetry. It is where he found his most profound emotions. The narratives of his stories and his connections to people were related to those things – his father reading him Robert Service poems, my mother playing him Bach and Beethoven as they were falling in love, Neil Young and Arlo Guthrie on the 8 track in a souped up van on one of the many road trips he took with his seven kids and wife.
The Latin masses he heard so many times as an alter boy that he could recite and sing them in the dark, as he did in the middle of the night recently from his bedside for my sister Amy and I. The room was dark and his eyes were closed as the words flowed out of his mouth, deeply, melodically, his hands moving up and down, left to right.
He never let you forget that the world was a fascinating place. Just listen to this stanza he would say while rewinding a tape to a particular moment he loved. Or listen to the way this sentence was composed, he’d say, before launching into a recital from whatever book he was reading that day. He would point out to me photographs that moved him – look at the way they used light and shadow, or the interesting was they framed the image. He loved originality.
He was an information junkie. There was no subject that did not interest him. He could talk to either senator or janitor. He always found a way to connect with someone. Whenever he would visit me I would find stacks of books throughout the house next to the various chairs he would sit in reading for hours at a time – old history textbooks, poetry anthologies, radical political tomes and scores of magazines.
As my father lay dying, I thought about all of the history, all of the stories that would die along with him. I thought about the dying off of his generation, the people of history that have seen the greatest changes take place in the course of just one century. I mean, my father lived during the time when one still bought ice off of a horse drawn cart.
He saw the world through the most tremendous changes and it gave him a perspective that I and scores of others, never grew tired of listening to.
He also showed me what love was – the way he loved my mother was passionately, loyally and with so much devotion. And although my father had an adventurous and exciting life in the 40 years he lived before meeting my mother, he told me that his life did not really begin until he met my mother.
These are the things that I will miss the most, and the greatest legacy he gave to each one of his children and grandchildren. His are the eyes that I will continue to strive to see through. His are the ears I will continue to strive to listen through – to keep both eyes and ears wide open to all that is most beautiful on this earth and I will keep praising them, and praising him.
Annie Blackshaw, November 3, 2007