Monday, April 28, 2014


I'm making progress.  Hallaluja!  

I cried only once during the Sunday afternoon art tour hosted by this funeral home where my parents arranged their cremation in advance, yet a place I knew little about.  

It was a happy day actually, sun shining brightly on some niches and graves, shade peacefully on others.  Much of the afternoon I thought about what a personal and important decision that might be, the consideration of light itself. 

The Progressive Art Tour was instructive and inspiring and at times ironic.  The tiny chapel jolted me back to San Antonio where I watched a young bride, white gown dragging on the pavement, walk to a similar chapel, her whole life ahead of her.  I remembered it so clearly as I stood outside this church, surrounded by solemn grounds for those whose lives have ended. 

Next in our progression was The Garden of Honor.  Famously sculpted, it was strikingly moving and a proud reminder of the brave and dedicated who serve us. 

At our last stop, the tour prompted introspection in the least expected way.  Less than forty-eight hours had passed since I listened to my favorite jazz quartet close their last set with a song I'd never heard them play, the same song that this wonderfully soft-voiced guitarist gave us on this Sunday afternoon.  Yes, Hallaluja!

The day could have happily ended on that note but instead we celebrated the event designed by our friend, for a few more hours.  Champagne was opened, white wine led to red, nibbles to dinner, chuckles to laughter, and throughout there was the clinking of glasses.

It had been a lovely but emotional day and by the time desserts were shared, they were for me, the final reminder that nothing is sweeter than life itself.

Restland Funeral Home, Dallas
Sandra Moudy, Director of Community Relations
Robert Hogan, sculptor 
John Spengler, musician-songwriter

Monday, April 21, 2014


The neighborhood has a little dog.  

Peaches as I've come to call her, obviously has a sad history.  Everything, sometimes nothing, scares her.  She startles, she runs, she doesn't trust.  I know she wants to . . .

Time and patience can be powerful tools and I've got a lot of both.  In just a week, Peaches has warmed a bit, wanting company and communicating her basic needs; nose up in the air and faint whimpers when she's hungry, peering through the door if I'm inside, learning I might come out and sit with her.  

She's owning the neighborhood.  None of us own her.  

Four houses look after the precious little mutt, her sibling dumped in our cul-de-sac at the same time but since disappeared.  She roams the half circle, half lost among several cats to play with and squirrels to chase.  She's begun running round-and-round-and-round this tree, lightning fast, it seems just for the fun of it.

I cook her an egg every day for lunch, two if I think she missed breakfast elsewhere.  She spends the afternoons sunning herself on concrete or grass, awakened from her short, restless naps any time the blue jays bathe or a car horn honks or I shift in my chair.  Peaches heads across the street around five o'clock, to get in on scraps from the family who eats hours before we do.  I heard she turned down chicken-fried-steak.  I admit, that made me smile.

The past couple days have held a ray of promise for Peaches will nap at my feet, her back turned away from me even, and today she took several pieces of cheese from me, long slices dangling, promising safety from my hand, the hand which wants only to pet her precious little head and assure her everything will be alright.  

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Monday, April 7, 2014

rites of passage

It can be a dreaded moment my father explained to me, if a General Manager walks to the center stage of any opera house to address its patrons in person.  Odds are no one has died as they will in the coming acts waiting to play out on the stage, but someone, likely the main soprano or tenor, has become ill and a replacement is being announced.

On the other hand, it's an exhilarating moment few people ever get to witness if applause and ovation are so very great that the conductor directs a number to be repeated.  During his many decades with opera, my dad saw this happen just twice.  The first was live, in Atlanta, during the duet performance in act one of La Boheme starring Franco Corelli and Renata Tebaldi.  The second was in a 2002 telecast of Nabucco, James Levine conducting and directing the chorus.  I know for a fact my father cried during the latter.  I'd bet money he did in the Fox Theater too. 

In my brief history with opera, I've watched shows with last minute cast changes so it was not a surprise when, at last Saturday's live broadcast from the Met, Peter Gelb came forward to deliver the news; Anita Hartig had the flu and Kristine Opolais was graciously taking her place.  Okay I thought, having learned by now that the show really does go on and usually magnificently.  

And this one did. . .

The soprano Opolais had, the night before, made her debut as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly on the Met stage and it's reported that following a dinner celebration she woke to the phone call requesting her to sing another staring role, one she hadn't sung in a full year, at that afternoon's one o'clock matinee.  With less than three hours of sleep Opolais accomplished what no other soprano has in the history of the Metropolitan Opera; she sang as Mimi in La Boheme, her second debut of two leading roles in back to back performances less than eighteen hours apart.

It was a beautiful, historic performance and though I didn't see it live at the Met, it feels as if I entered another world of opera that afternoon; my dad's world.  I now have a story, a rich opera tale of my own.  

I only wish I could share it with him.