This is how it was. The shots of the exterior of our home are actually of the house in which I grew up.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
The pictures from France did it. Before viewing them, really seeing them, for the first time, I’d thought I understood. I’d thought I understood my parents and their relationship. Their story. Their truth. But, I didn’t. Not by a long shot. Not until my brother, Donny, had the family slides made into a CD and I viewed them, wallowed in them, for hours, on my laptop, in bed, did I realize that there was something I’d missed. The photos stunned me.
Sunday, August 30, 2015
This summer, a kindly seeming (his first impression was only reinforced by our actual meeting) television producer named Mark called and invited me to participate in a PBS documentary about my father. He said they'd interviewed my older brothers and needed a female voice. I couldn't help but wonder if the female voice required whining and wailing - which, believe me, I'm ready to produce on demand - but it turned out they expected me to act like an normal, articulate adult. I declined, aware that such a role would be too much of a stretch, but during our conversation, I related a couple of stories on the topic which he encouraged me to tell on tape and the desire to share what I believe to be a fascinating story got the best of me. I said yes. Then, the next day, I waffled, and said no. Whining, wailing, indecision. My specialties. It wasn't fear of speaking on camera. It was fear that I wouldn't know when to stop speaking. Fear that a routine interview would turn into the long-needed therapy session and I'd spill my guts and get way off topic rambling on and on about attics, pot pies, my brother taking my door off the hinges so I wouldn't slam it, Cheatham Annex, my sleeping baby sister, Billy, my father's tackle box, tissues under my mother's pillow, Bill McFarland, pets, sneaking out of my bedroom window at night, the Little League field. There's a volcano lurking beneath my calm exterior.
Mark may've regretted the invitation, but before he could cut and run, I concluded that I'd regret it if I didn't put in my two cents and that I could refrain from making it a dollar. So, I said yes and, as it turned out, all four M Society members participated. Michael, Mary and I, in person, and Mom through her diary entries and letter excerpts.
Come and see...
Saturday, August 29, 2015
The happy scheduling coincidence that put the PBS interview on the same weekend as the First Colonial High School reunion made it possible for me to see family, family friends, and childhood friends all in one evening. Two such friends, Sean and Shone, whom I've collectively dubbed, in the chaotic portion of my brain in which I store childhood memories, The Two Shawns, will be the resounding impression of the evening.
This is my sister, Mary, far left, and brother, Michael, far right, flanking Sean Mulligan and me. Sean may have been taken aback by the enthusiasm with which the Dentons greeted him. He was probably blissfully unaware of the elevated place of esteem that he and his family hold in the minds and hearts of we sentimental slobs. (My dad used to make charmingly affectionate use of the word "slob." It was a compliment. As in, "You poor slobs." when he saw us eating from seemingly endless bowls of freshly steamed shrimp at his round kitchen table.) My siblings and I cherish the place family friends held in our lives as we grew up in our unusual circumstances. When the family friends grew up in the same unusual circumstances - in passel of kids (Sean was one of six brothers) and we had seven kids in our family) growing up with a father across the world in a POW camp - well, we latch on to that pretty tightly. And, so it was when we saw Sean at the reunion.
I very much want to compare notes with Sean, but am not sure he is ready for the Let's Explore Our Childhood Experience and Talk About Our Feelings session that it would involve.
(Hi, Johnny Robbins, peeking out from behind Sean and me! He's no doubt looking for his wife, Judie, who was everyone's long lost best friend that night.)
Capt. Mulligan, left, and my dad at a press conference after their Feb. 1973 release
That's my Dad's Mona Lisa photo - his intense gaze pierces me.
Sunday, August 23, 2015
My son, David's, adult life has begun in earnest. He lives and works in El Paso now and, next year, will be even farther away, in San Francisco. We felt that we needed to grab this opportunity to take a trip together before his life gets busier and more full. We went to Europe for two weeks and I'll remember the special time with him forever and forever.
We looked up from the window of our room to see the sky and look down and see this.
Saturday, August 22, 2015
The night we arrived in Florence, I got out of the taxi and took a picture of Hotel Loggiato Dei Serviti before I realized it was our hotel. It sat on a shadowy square dominated by man on horseback statue - the scene felt like one from the past.
Having read the name of the five fishing villages on the Italian Riviera before hearing it pronounced, I can't say the name properly. I'm sparing you that fate by giving you the pronunciation first. I'm not even sure that's correct. It is spelled Cinque Terre and destined to be mispronounced Sink Tare for the rest of my life.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
David and I stayed in Cap Ferrat, just down the hill from Villefranche and Beaulieu-sur-Mer, where my family had lived when I was born. An email to my older brothers resulted in a stream of memories that allowed me to see it all through their eyes. Jimmy, who's visited the area, I think, nearly every year of his adult life, even sent me a handy hand drawn map. It's got a pirate-like look to it, missing only the big X to mark the treasure.
David and I walked up to Beaulieu via an incomparably lovely path along the Mediterranean Sea, so we could see...
Saturday, August 15, 2015
Before my trip, I went to dinner with one of my very closest friends, Barbara. She lit up at the mention of Barcelona. She said, "I love Barcelona!" and so I knew I would, too, because Barbara and I agree about everything.
For me to feel comfortable enough to have dispensed with my cardigan and walked the crowded streets of Barcelona sleeveless says something about the relaxed and accepting atmosphere. I'm aware that my wearing of a cotton shield says something about me as well.