Big Noise from Winnetka

I stood by the piano last night whispering a little story about The Princess to Snowman, and then I turned, and my father was smiling right at me.

He smiled from a 4 by 6 frame holding a snapshot taken at Boothbay Harbor in the summer of 1991. The baby in his arms was Snowman.

How is it that someone who has been gone for almost ten years, someone you haven’t even been thinking about particularly, can suddenly be so enormously present and absent at the same time?

I’ve read the words "tears sprung," and I suspect I’ve used the words as a description myself, but I’ve never felt quite the spring in them, the force of a spring, that I felt as tears suddenly shot out of my eyes.

Snowman was pulling up to stand that summer, and I remember he smiled delightedly, watching his  Granddaddy drum with pencils on a coffee table while singing, in his not-very-musical-voice, "Big Noise Blew in from Winnetka."

God, what a loss that he cannot know Snowman now and hear him play his clarinet, cannot know his grandson appreciates Benny Goodman just as he did so long ago. Sometimes it feels soft and nostalgic; sometimes it gives me pleasure to know they have joys in common, as when I remember the love of Jane Austen I shared with my late mother-in-law and think how happy she would be that The Princess is a reader, too.

Wikipedia tells us: "In classical physics, a spring can be seen as a device that stores potential energy by straining the bonds between the atoms of an elastic material."

It seems the heart is elastic, and in one sharp moment its bonds strained by old grief, potential energy let fly.

18 thoughts on “Big Noise from Winnetka”

  1. It never stops, this grief thing, does it. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story – it echoes here as well.

  2. tears are springing here too.
    Bebo never got to meet my beloved grandfather and it kills me at times. Bebo has my grandfathers sweet gentle spirit and I KNOW they would have loved one another so much.

  3. A very powerful post. Thanks for the rumination. My own father’s loss will wash over me like that sometimes. Often, for me, it’s when another man of that certain age reminds me of him. Also when I come across something I know he would have loved …. or really not liked… I think our losses serve sometimes to plant us firmly in the moment too, not necessarily drag us to the past.
    I enjoy your blog enormously. Thanks for sharing.

  4. My Dad died 3 months before my daughter was born. She’s 22 now and I still have moments when I am sad that she never got to meet him and that he never got to meet her. It catches me by surprise sometimes.

  5. Beautiful writing about a familiarly painful situation…as you know, neither of my parents lived to know their grandchildren and it is as the children grow that I miss them most. They’d take such pleasure in their talents and interests. I’m constantly amazed when Hattie Gandhi answers the phone in my mother’s voice…and Hugger Steward has exactly my father’s sense of humour.

  6. It’s so difficult to believe they’re gone, isn’t it?
    My father died 26 years ago and my mother 10 years ago, both in March. This is always a sad month for me, and I am always delighted to get to the silliness of April Fools Day.
    P.S. Wouldn’t our fathers love and enjoy these children of ours?

  7. Hugs, Songbird. People live on in stories and spirit, which is often a comfort–but sometimes it is just sad to see those reminders. He sounds like a wonderful man.

  8. ((Songbird))
    You must have been a daddy’s girl too.
    How well I know the feeling of wanting to tell my dad something, or share with him something I know he would enjoy, and I can’t.
    We still carry our dads’ love and pride within ourselves, and always will.

Leave a Reply