Twice in the last week, someone has made reference to the concept of me being my father. The first person who told me this knew my dad very well, but does not really know me. She said, “You are Georg!” Frankly, this rather pushed my button. No, I’m not! I’m not Georg. He was him, I am me. He was my father. I am his daughter. He was an artist. I am a writer. He was old. I am young. He was a man, I am a girl. The dichotomous thinking goes on and on.
Then, just tonight, someone who knows me only as an acquaintance and who knew my father not at all, said the same thing. He said it a little differently, however, and I took it in a completely different way. It also made me look at the first person’s remark in a fresh light, and calmed my initial flash of negative judgment.
With this acquaintance, I was talking about how I have inherited a studio full of my father’s art work and how I have boxes and boxes of his life in the form of letters, legal documents, old invoices, journals, doodles, and photographs. I told this person how overwhelming it is to know that I will spend years of my life trying to sort all this out. He replied, “But you’ll be all right, because you are him now.”
You are him. I am the kaleidoscope through which all his fragments will be combined and recreated into something new. And not just me alone, but me together with my sister, her children, and my child. Together, we are him.
Earlier today, I had this day dream that I will one day open a coffee house with my dad’s art work on the walls. There will be espresso and yummy food. (Onion tarts anyone?) There will be comfy chairs. There will be wi-fi. There will be one corner set up as an open studio for painting and drawing, along with a gallery for people to show their work. Another part of the room will be for writing and reading. There will be a piano (tuned) and guitar amps and a drum kit. On Thursday and Friday evenings, there will be jam sessions and poetry readings. On Saturday nights, we’ll have a D.J. and we’ll dance until the wee hours. On Sunday morning, you can come back for coffee, yoga, and tai chi.
The customers will be all ages. People will make new friends here. They will fall in love here. They will plan projects, sit and do nothing with no guilt, write symphonies, play chess. The only requirement is that they enter with an adventurous heart and remain open to all that life (and the coffee house) offers.
Will this place ever exist for real? Probably not. I googled “how to open a coffee house,” and was instantly discouraged by an article written by a man who dreamed of opening a coffee house with his wife. He reported that within the first month, they found out just how hellish it is to make ends meet in such a business. I don’t need any more living hells. It was hard enough watching Georg’s body fail him this past year. I have already walked through hell. I am done with hell.
Now, I need only to find a bright side and look on it. I need to recognize the notion that “I am Georg” is a good thing, a gift. It is not a negation of Lisa, but an addition to her. It is everything Georg started, morphed by my touch, and the touch of my sister, and of our children. It is a legacy of openness to life’s many possibilities in whatever form that will take. It is a legacy of love that cannot be ignored.