Saturday, April 9, 2016


This is a terrific picture of my folks. It was in the summer of 1980 when I rented a house on Cape Cod.  During the preceding school year I was living and working in western New York.  A friend of mine had a friend who was going to Europe for the summer.  She, the friend of the friend, lived on Cape Cod and had a cat. She needed someone to rent her home and take care of her cat.  I volunteered.

So during the summer of 1980 I stayed in Eastham, MA.  In retrospect a very happy two months.  My folks came up in early August to visit.  Mom had turned 56 a few months earlier and Dad was 56 a few months before that.  I am now ten years older than my folks were in this photo taken on the deck of the house that I rented.

A couple of things that I remember from that visit.  One, my mother was reading a book called Ordinary People.  It subsequently became an academy award winning movie with Mary Tyler Moore and Donald Sutherland playing the leads.  When I saw she was reading the book I got a bit of a pang.  I had read it myself, and I had given it to her, recommending the book.  I got the pang because I knew that she had already read it.  I asked her why she was reading the book again fearing I would know the answer. And I was right. She said she thought the story was vaguely familiar, but had no recollection of reading it.  It was probably a year or so from when she first read it.

It was real hot during their visit. Even in Cape Cod usually a refuge from the heat.  I took them to see a play at a summer stock theatre that I'd discovered during my stay. This was and probably still is a terrific troupe that comes or came to the Cape each summer. The plays were excellent and the actors remarkable in that one week a guy might play a character from Shakespeare, the next a gangster in Guys and Dolls, and then the following week be in a play set in Sweden.  Just fantastic versatility. Anyway, I took them to see An Enemy of the People.

I had never seen the play before and knew nothing about it.  It was hotter than Hades in that Theater.  No air conditioning is typically necessary on the Cape but that night it was brutal. The actors had to wear winter clothes for some scenes and I thought they might drop from the heat.  An Enemy of the People is special, at least to my way of thinking.  It is about a guy who discovers that there are toxins in the water, but to out the fact that there are toxins is to undercut the financial security of the people who live in the town. Peoples' livelihoods are based on the perception that the water is free from toxins.  So, the person who insists that people could be poisoned by the water is ostracized because the citizens' immediate fear of losing their livelihood trumps everything else. The whistleblower becomes an enemy of the people.  Very moving play and it had to be wonderfully done for us to sit through it in what seemed like 100 degrees inside the theater.

The thing about seeing An Enemy of the People with my folks is that I knew that they were the sort of folks who would always side with the whistleblower. That when there was a right way and a wrong way to go, my parents defaulted to the right way, even when the wrong way had its immediate benefits.  And I have benefited because of their natural leanings.

Today, April 9, 2016, my mother would have been 91 years old.  I think dead is dead so wishing her a happy birthday is probably, as my paternal grandfather would have said, ridickalus.  But who knows. My mother would be inclined to think that there was a possibility.   So, happy birthday mom. Thinking of you today.  What I look like as you turn 91.

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