Even though I have been back to school since August 4th and have been seeing my students since the 7th, it somehow never really feels like school until September arrives. So the school boards may change the dates, but the old inner calendar has been set in stone for a long time.
A lifetime of habits and celebrations and memories revisit our years. There truly is a certain quality of light in August that streams through the window and onto the faces of my parents. The two oil paintings used to hang in my parents' bedroom, but are now in my home. As a small child, I tested the artistic theory that well rendered eyes in a portrait will follow you as you walk past them....and both sets of eyes always did. My father had commissioned these when he was in Italy...somewhere in Sardinia...during WWII. The artist used a pair of photographs with which my father traveled all throughout the war. He came home with many unusual artifacts and relics, but to me these paintings are the real and unquestionable treasures.
My parents were married in 1936, seventy-three years ago today, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. My mother had ridden in a bus through the Great Smokey Mountains National Park from Chattanooga, Tennessee to marry my father and used to tell stories about that trip. I know to her it seemed a huge adventure, but my mother's innocent journey toward her future would be swallowed up by an even longer and more arduous journey. Just ahead of the newlyweds lay World War II spawned by the inevitable and tragic events brewing in Europe and the Far East.
" And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?"
from "The Second Coming" W.B. Yeats 1920
Between August 1936 and the fall of 1942, my parents had their first two children and built a small two story home west of Birmingham. When my father left, he was gone for three and a half years. Indeed, he did return, unharmed, though not unchanged. How my parents and so many others managed to nurture a marriage and their children through those years truly astounds me. My sister Sue (born a little over nine months after his return) claimed Super Early Baby Boomer status, while I (born five years after her) was dubbed just a plain old Baby Boomer.
My mother's oil portrait from the photo featured below.
My father's portrait most likely painted from the photo below.
I think my dad may have sat for this as well.