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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Other Dimensions

A friend recently mentioned other dimensions and how she sometimes imagines looking at her current self from some other dimension. (I may have misinterpreted what she was saying.)


I immediately tried to imagine, say, seventeen dimensions that connect with us here right now. It looked like a cross between a cubist painting and a 3-D tic-tac-toe game, all of this enclosed in intricate scaffolding.


Later in the week I brought this idea up with friends and got further information: first, the fourth dimension is Time (I'd known that once) and second, although physics posits four dimensions, in math (one friend is a mathematician) you can posit as many dimensions as you like and then prove them mathematically.


In the meantime, I had gone back to the typed version of my father's letters, not having re-read them since I first transcribed them several years ago from Myron's handwritten copies. The ones I was interested in were the 1934 letters.


In September of 1934, Myron's mother, Jessie, was recovering from an operation (her leg was amputated because of metastatic breast cancer). I don't know if it was medical advice or just a whim, but the family decided it would be good for Jessie to spend a month in New Mexico with my mother's parents to recuperate. Why they thought a three-day car trip in an old Ford would be healing is beyond me. So here's who drove to Tularosa, New Mexico: Myron, his mother (Jessie), his wife (Eileen), his father (Robert F.), and his first child (Robert Vincent), who was three months old. I can't imagine how awful the trip must have been.


In Tularosa they were welcomed by Eileen's parents, John Vincent Rahilly and his wife Anna (Anastasia), who had moved to New Mexico some 15 years earlier for J.V.'s health.


Myron's letters begin after he and his father had returned to Indiana, leaving the women and the child for a month's visit. On the way home, he writes, the car died and his father opted to buy a new Ford rather than repair the old one. (He had no interest in the equally available Chevrolet.) To handle the payment, Grandad called his bank back home and had them wire the money to the Ford dealer's bank.


The reason I was looking back at these letters was to find the word Myron used to refer to his son; it had struck me when I transcribed them but then I'd forgotten it. Now, it's bad enough that the poor baby was never even called by his real name until he was in medical school. His Irish mother re-christened him immediately after birth as "Dinty" for reasons undisclosed to any of us. But at this early stage of Dinty's life, either Eileen hadn't yet mentioned the "Dinty" nickname to Myron or she had mentioned it and he hadn't taken to it. For in these 1934 letters during Dinty's early months, Myron refers to the baby as "the stooge", as in "Give my love to Mother [i.e., Jessie] and to the stooge."


As I re-read these letters, it was as if I was living in Delphi, Indiana, with my father in the empty apartment above the Delphi Citizen office (the apartment where I was born two years later). I was rapt. The places and names were from my childhood (Clifford's grocery, Morrow Shoe Repair) and I could see Myron walking around the square during his daily rounds. He worked very hard while his little family was out West. The endless job-printing orders—the meat and potatoes of a small newspaper business—had him working until nine or ten or beyond most nights.


But it wasn't until my recent discussion of Time as the fourth dimension that I realized: during that hour spent rereading Myron's 1934 letters, I was following a Time loop that deposited me fully in 1934 Delphi, two years before I was born.


There are multiple dimensions to our lives, whether or not we are aware of them.        


Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Myron's Chair

The easy chair that belonged to Myron, my father, was a dark green leather club chair. By the time he died it had dominated the living room of every house we lived in, and it had definitely seen better days. As we divided up the household goods, I think all six of us wanted to take that chair home as a reminder of our childhood. But by that time the leather was pocked with cigarette burns, at least one of which had expanded into a four-inch tear along one of the arms.


I see Myron in that chair, his long legs stretched out across the matching ottoman. On the floor beside the chair was a standing ashtray, a pedestal topped with a removable heavy smoked-glass dish that was always full of butts.


Cigarettes perfumed every room of our house when we were growing up. Both Myron and Eileen, our mother, smoked. One of them unfiltered Camels, the other unfiltered Luckies, though I can't remember who smoked which brand. The ashtrays throughout the house always needed to be emptied. The post-prandial cigarettes were stubbed out on the dinner plates. At the time that seemed normal—well, it was normal at our house—but imagining the practice now I can't think of anything more disgusting. No wonder we kids never wanted to do the dishes!


The club chair was where Myron read the paper (The Chicago Trib once a week, the Indianapolis Star, or the Lafayette Courier) and drank his cocktail-hour manhattans. The chair was wide enough and deep enough to accommodate (when we were very young) skinny Myron and a pile of skinny kids on Sunday morning (after Mass, of course) when he would read us the funny papers from the Trib.


In the end the dark green leather chair was left in the old home town. I really don't remember how we disposed of it almost forty-five years ago. But I have a feeling that, if pressed, any one of us could still describe in detail the chair our father sat in.


Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
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Sunday, June 10, 2018

There's a Song in My Head

Give me five minutes more, only five minutes more—

to something something how much I love you.


Why don't I jettison from my brain the long string of first lines of superseded songs? Well, I just can't tell you why. But they arise alarmingly often to the surface of my mind.

Sometimes, if I stick with it, I can come up with all the lyrics of a particular song, whether or not it's worth the effort.


In the last weeks it has been The Beatles' "I couldn't dance with another, Since I saw her standing there." That's at the top of my recall because it's on our dance tape. But most of the lyrics in my head predate the Beatles by 20 or 30 years. Chickery chick, cha-la, cha-la, for example. Mairsie Doats. Or Cole Porter: Miss Otis Regrets. I've Got You Under My Skin. You Go to My Head. Or old camp songs: Do Lord, oh do Lord, oh do remember me. Down by the Old Mill Stream (including the cabaletta with the patter that's funny to under-ten girls).


I'm gearing up for the days when the only words left to me will be the words to the songs the volunteer pianist plays at The Home: Let Me Call You Sweetheart, for example. I'm ready to sing it for you right now, if you'd like.


Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
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