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    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

    by Helene "Ole Waterworks" Gresser


    Maybe it's that I haven't had my Pristiq antidepressant for a few days, or I am possibly premenstrual (oh, I can never keep track, and my PMS always starts so early - like ten days before,) or perhaps it is because I always miss my family around the holidays, but I am welling up like that penguin in the Looney Tunes cartoon:

    Or the Marc Antony with the kitty cat cartoon:

    I am brought to tears by beautiful music lately (okay, just the past couple of days, in my hormonal/non-drugged state) and was standing outside my bar Monday when I heard a group of high school kids singing a choral piece (Samuel Barber's "Agnus Dei" from Adagio For Strings) as they walked to/from practice. I instantantly choked up. I mean, felt my throat close up and tears spring into my eyes so fast I was taken completely by surprise. Just listening to it as I post this has me overcome with emotion. Oh Lord.

    Last night - watching To Kill a Mockingbird on TV - this scene wrecked me. And all she had to say was "Hey, Boo...."

    Kills me. "Hey, Boo."

    Around these holidays, the TV runs It's a Wonderful Life. I weep every time George's brother enters the room and toasts him:

    If you haven't seen the movie, it's just about the most ironic and poignant statement about the life of George - he is broke, feels as if he's made nothing but bad decisions in his life, and he's trapped living in a small town when all he wanted was to travel the world - and he sacrificed his dreams to take over the family business and let his brother be the one to travel the world. But George is rich with friends and people he's been kind to his entire life. He is the richest man in town, as his whole community gathers to help him out of a bad bind. He is rich with love and friendship, the most valuable assets a man can possess. And most of us tend to forget that.

    Charlie Chaplin understood this even earlier, as he showed in the scene from City Lights that brings a sob to my throat each and every time. He is the Little Tramp, but helped a blind woman to regain her sight by finding enough money to help her get an operation. She thought he was some rich man. And she only knows the feel of his hands, and has no idea he is a tramp, until he happens upon her as she is settled in her new life as a flower shop owner. He didn't even know that the operation had been successful, as he had been in jail for months, until:

    You see?

    I am a ball of snot and tears now, and my chest aches. I am a sap. Especially this week. I am filled with gratitude and auld lang syne and holiday homesickness. I miss my mom and dad and stepmom and brothers. I miss my hometown in Wisconsin. I miss my friends scattered far and wide in Arizona and Ohio and Alaska and New Jersey. I want to run out and buy presents for everyone and spend hours wrapping. I am so touched that my guy asked me to spend Thanksgiving with him and and his family that I fear I will cry as we start to say Grace: "BlessedOLord, andtheseThygiftsthatweareabouttoreceive..." and I am not religious.

     I miss my Grandparents. I miss my Aunt Mickey and Uncle George and my cousins Jeffrey, Jill, and Jerry, who used sing this in four part harmony as their dinner prayer (this video is not my family, just a great example of singing the Doxology - I am weeping as I provide the link. Oh, tomorrow should be GOOD):

    Twenty-five years ago, when I was twenty-one and living in Manhattan on my own, I spent Easter with a famous playwright, his actress wife, and their family in Massachusetts. We went to a little white church where the actresss' mother was a member, and they sang the sweetest version of Amazing Grace I had ever heard. I sat there in the pew, tears running down my face, feeling so confused by my non-religious brain and aching, homesick heart. Judy Collins sings it beautifully with the Harlem Boys Choir:

    I have to stop sniffling now and get ready to head to Queens to see my guy. Tomorrow we drive to Connecticut, and I will hold it together, hopefully. I will think of all my loved ones far and wide, and count my blessings. I will laugh and hear stories and feel happy to be with a man I really admire and adore. I have a place to live, food to eat, and people who hold me up when I am low and feeling lost.  I am the richest gal in town.

    I will likely watch A Trip To Bountiful some time this holiday season, where the song "Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling" plays so heartbreakingly, and Geraldine Page slays me with her performance. I can't wait to see my family again, and have my mom sing You Are My Sunshine with me, and hear my dad sing "O Tannenbaum" in German.

    As my mom would say: "I cry because I am happy." It's true.


     Count your nights by stars, not shadows; count your life with smiles, not tears. - Italian Proverb

  2. 1 comments:

    1. Lady Ha Ha said...

      I just read TKAM with my students and cried at the "Hey, Boo" part.

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