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Friday, November 11, 2011

Guilty of Clutching Proust

Proust you devil. I can never react the same way to life again. You've changed everything, and what's more ~ I am sure you know and wished for this effect!


Well, good! I hope you are happy now, Marcel, for you got what you wanted. 


I don't have the exact quote, but basically at the very end of Proust he questions whether or not he can produce the monumental work he envisions  and whether it will achieve his intent. His intent is that as you read Proust's great undertaking, that you will not only get a chance to understand others, accept them for all their foibles -- but also to be able to read yourself. 


Old Wenger's Bakery, Reading, Pa.


It is chilly cold on my fingers as I type this. A hot coffee mug might help. But, there's no time for that. The fall vista of golden oaks and red maple trees won't last. They won't. I've seen it time and time again. And I am guilty of trying to hold on. Being here, but wishing I was either ahead or behind. 


A couple of weeks ago I good-bye to my 90 year old Father. 


Jackie, Me, Dad: Spring 2010




Bud Geiger was a simple and wonderful man. To many, many people -- and to me he was a cross between Santa Claus and Burl Ives, Mr Green Jeans and Mr Kangaroo.My sons, when they were little, knew him as The Giant because he would love to chase them around a big old oak tree in his front yard on Elizabeth Avenue. When he caught them they would squeal and he would growl like a bear and hug them. I believe they were all equally  and simultaneously terrified and delighted. My Dad treasured my two sons, but he never mentioned how he had had to do the unthinkable and identify the body of his own son, Jeremy, after he had drowned at 18. I was often heartbroken by his never speaking of Jeremy, but this was Dad's way of handling it for himself. 




A Reading Staple




As a little boy my father learned about life very early. He (and his family, who is as yet unidentified) was out on the streets by the time he was 9 or 10 years old. it was the Great Depression and he says that often there was just jelly bread for days on end. One of his first jobs was for a Pennsylvania Dutch-Amish-Plain People-Mennonite Poultry Farmer. He did all the unpleasant tasks one might imagine and he helped deliver the harvested birds to the Reading Market on Penn Street. 



Ninth and Cherry Market in Reading, Pa. 


Kissingers Market in Reading, Pa.




He worked for the Reading Railroad for 13 ears and served in WW II in the Navy. His ship the USS Cowie traveled to Normandy for the invasion, then various shipyards in England for repairs before heading to Russia and the Baltic Sea. From there they headed back to England for more repairs and then slipped through the Panama Canal to Long Beach, California before heading back out to Sea and the waters of Pearl Harbor, Okinawa and Japan at large. When he returned he worked for the Railroad again and then as a Produce Manager for the Acme Market. Before and after he retired he was a groundskeeper for the Hilbert estate off of the Pricetown Road. 




One of Dad's Favorites. Tripe, Anyone?


Dad loved Ships and the Sea, and downstairs in the Den there is a painting/picture of a sailing ship called quite simply, The Fantom. 






Fried Fish Sandwiches, Fairgrounds Market


In a nutshell, to say my Dad had a lifelong appreciation for food would not be an understatement. Perhaps it stemmed from his having so little when he was little. He was always generous and the table was no exception. I remember a family barbecue where he kept me busy eating one chicken leg after another. I realize now how I relished all his attention for that moment! There was Mack and Manco Pizza on the boardwalk at Ocean City, New Jersey, where he roared when I ordered a beer, then winked to the waitress and said "root beer, please." There were always fried fish sandwiches at the Green Dragon Market in Lancaster, Pa. Back in the 70's he brought us a very strange fuzzy fruit for Christmas. It was green with black seeds inside and  now well known; kiwi.  


So, in getting back to Proust, I might ponder if my father achieved his intent in life? Dad was not the contemplative sort, and even if I ever asked him something so preposterous he might bellow at me as if I was unappreciative in even wondering. 


So, it's really not for me to say or decide. But I saw he was good and honest and generous and kind and loved life. Survived disasters and being in the war. 


What I can do is stand under the great trees of Autumn, their leaves flying all around me,with the sky as blue and crisp as the ocean, and let go of wishing to learn the unknown, uncover the mysteries that composed this gentle good man known as Bud.  


Dad, let's just go have another slice of pepperoni. 


Pizza at the Fairgrounds Farmer's Market









4 comments:

  1. Your father sounds like a wonderful man, you're so lucky to have had such a wonderful father -- I'm so sorry for your loss. Today I'll be thinking of you, he, and Proust as I question if I can produce the monumental work I envision on my novel in progress. Take care!

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  2. Absolutely beautiful! From reading this I think Bud did achieve Proutsts intent through living his life, triumph and struggle. I would like to think that when it's our time to pass, it's a higher beings way of telling us that we have overcome our obstacles, embraced our foibles, and have learned to live life to its fullest. I think your father made Marcel proud.

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  3. Dorette, I am sorry for your loss. What a wonderful man you had for a dad. This is a great tribute. Diana

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  4. Julia and JeremyCooks, I thank you both and apologize as I didn't have the comments setting correct so it would notify me and didn't know you had made a comment. I appreciate your kind words so very much. Julia, how goes the progress on your novel in progress?

    JeremyCooks, Merci! It's not always easy to embrace our foibles and sandwiches at the same time. And especially at this festive time of year I treasure the memory of my Dad living with such gusto and occasional sillyness. And you, you are doing this too! Onward! And here's to food for making such rich life memories possible.

    Diana, Thank you for being here! Maybe living is in the doing, and not in countless lectures, what do you think? I am thankful to know you, dear lady!

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