Monday, October 23, 2006

greetings from beyond

Letters my father wrote to his family in the 1950s.

I love stories of mysterious communication-- messages from the anonymous, letters from the departed. I've been running into a lot of them lately. The stories, and the messages.

As You Like It is being performed at both Wesleyan and Quinnipiac this month. That's the one where exiled Rosalind, disguised as a boy, finds poems written to her on the trees of the Forest of Arden. The image is so wonderful that I put poems on trees in some local forests myself, just because it should be done now and then.

Another is Eurydice, a play by Sarah Ruhl I saw recently at Yale Rep (thanks to Eliza B!). I fell so deeply into the performance that it's still haunting me a week later. It was unearthly beautiful- the story, of course, of Eurydice, who returns to Hades after her husband Orpheus looks back while rescuing her. But also, a gorgeous flooding set, a bath house tiled with paper letters, and the most poetic speech.

Before Eurydice dies the first time, her dead father writes letters of advice and love to her from the underworld, and sends them up into the world of the living, though she doesn't see them. Later Orpheus sends her letters of music of despair from above, stuffing them into the ground.
I'll give this letter to a worm. I hope he finds you." The letters in the play manifest in the world they were sent to on actual sheets of paper. But it got me thinking. What if all these synchronicities, these funny coincidences that feel so much like personal correspondence, were actually messages from my lost loves? My grandfathers? My grandmothers? My friends? My father?

My father died when I was too young to be upset about it, and probably due to some inventive adult telling me so, I grew up with the idea that I was a lucky girl because I had a parent in heaven, a kind of personal ambassador to God. A dad with maybe more influence and better connections then other kids had who was always looking out for me. What if I decided to believe that now as if it were a fact? What if every time I get a funny feeling when I overhear a conversation with my name spoken, I decide to believe that it's my father talking to me? What if I just decided to believe every time I hear a plane that it's my father saying hello? That would be a daring way to live, indeed.

With this in mind on Sunday I left yellow roses, the kind he liked to give my mother, in my favorite place in the city. As I did I heard a jet, invisible above the clouds.


Anonymous said...

I'm so happy you found our show so inspiring. A week later and I miss it so much!

Linda S. Wingerter said...

Thank god you got me off my ass to go see it!

Anonymous said...

I have two thoughts . . .

When have you ever sat very long on your ass . . .
It must have been Apple who said Dad was your ambassador ? . . . .

Linda S. Wingerter said...

I'd been thinking the lady across the street who yelled at me a lot in Summit, but maybe it was Apple. I wish I could remember.

Libby Koponen said...

What a beautiful and inspiring post! Thank you, Linda.

I remember once pulling a book off my shelf and seeing a note from my father to me inside (written in the book: as a kid, I never read it - just started reading the book). It WAS like getting a message. My father died very suddenly when I was 17 -- I wish someone had told us what Apple or whoever it was told you; only at 17 I probably wouldn't have believed it.

What a wonderful way to think though and what a great image -- the flowers and the jet plane saying hello. Beautiful post: thank you!

Linda S. Wingerter said...

Wow, Libby, that's something amazing to find. What was the book?

Libby Koponen said...

TALES FROM SHAKESPEARE (by Charles and Mary Lamb, illustrated by Arthur Rackham) and the note said:
"Dearest Libby,
We hope these plots will enrich your appreciation of Shakespeare's expression when you read him.

A very happy Christmas
Mommy & Daddy"

--but it's in his handwriting. I was 8 at the time.

Your blog has imspired me to open up and be more personal on my own! Thank you.