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Monday, October 30, 2017

In The Midst Of Solitude

While reading Richard Ford's 2017 book - "Between Them: Remembering My Parents" - Marcel Proust's description of the pleasure of reading  - "... that fruitful miracle of a communication in the midst of solitude" - kept returning to me.

"Being both a late and an only child is a luxury, no matter what else it may be, since both invite you to speculate alone about all the time that went before - the parents' long life you had no part in."  Sentences like that from this brief and beautiful volume had me anticipating the next conversation I'd have with my daughter - a late and only child. Had she ever speculated about the eleven years my wife and I had spent together before she was born?

Ford's father was 38 when he was born; his mother was 33. I was 39 and my wife was 34 when our daughter was born. But Ford's vivid images and shimmering prose will remain with me long after those coincidental parallels with my own life fade from memory. For example  - "... what we all find in books, if we don't have faith: testimony that there is an alternate way to think about life, different from the ways we're naturally equipped." Reading that felt like I was communicating with the author, just as Proust suggests. "An only child's imagination is strummed melodically by the things they [i.e. the parents] don't say." Another sentence telling me it had been too long since I'd spoken with my daughter.

And finally - "I was fortunate to have parents who loved each other and, out of the crucible of that great, almost unfathomable love, loved me. Love, as always, confers great beauties." Ford's biggest gift to me? Reminding me -in the midst of solitude - to remember my parents.

3 comments:

  1. I just reread this post, having saved it from back in October. It is so beautiful, and reminds me of what a gift we received when our late and only child came along.

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  2. What an amazing post. Thanks dad ❤️

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    1. To the two most important people in my life: Thank you both for reading and commenting, five months and (almost) three years after the post was published. I'm proud of a few things I've managed to accomplish. The big two - a healthy and enduring partnership with you, Kim; the treasure we brought into the world the day you were born, Alison. Third: This blog, which has given me a lot of late-in-life satisfaction and has also, on occasion, produced a post like this one with a concrete example of my creativity made manifest. That creativity has frequently been the thing that helped sustain my life. And that was especially true during the years that you two were not in my life, making me whole.

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