home with the armadillo
Snapshots from a weekend in Waco:
- It's been years since I've been to Austin only as a visitor, and only as a place to pass through. My sister picked me up, we stopped at Maudie's and Waterloo, and that was it before heading off to Waco.
- It was so great to see my sister. We've seen each other in June for about 5 days. That's it since January. That's too long.
- We get to Ann Miller's funeral early enough to get a parking place. There were 1,000 people inside First Baptist. The atmosphere is not one of sadness as much as of family - everybody knows someone else in the room, so everyone is chatting and laughing until the organist plays Dvorak's "Going Home" from the New World Symphony. And suddenly everyone remembers why we are there, and what we have lost.
- We look at the program, where there are eight poems and some of the world's great music for the service she planned for herself, and my sister says, "Ann Miller can do anything."
- She really can. Her favorite song was "Danny Boy," and we learn later that the man who performs it at the memorial service played Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway.
- This was my church in college. I sat under the beautiful dome, Sunday after Sunday. The first day I walked into this building, I met the Doctor and a Future Former Roommate and some of my closest friends in the world. I haven't been inside in six years, but here we are, surrounded by friends once more.
- "Well here we are," says Ann Miller, and I jumped, even though the program said she had recorded her own poem to be read at her service. She says that people are always saying things are better in the afterlife, and that she doesn't know about that, because there is so much that is beautiful about earth. The poem is about that: "Look. Sometimes / here the earth dazzles us, so luminous all / blue the ponds a bed of iris the blue / shadows of the moon astonish us, we want it / never to change, the sun falling across our / faces, the light falling from trees that / blossom for us."
I didn't feel like going to Texas this weekend. I had plans, a restaurant reservation, lots of loose ends to tie up. I wanted to save the free plane ticket for the fall. Seeing The Great One at the luncheon made me so glad I had come. He suddenly seems frail and tired. I say good-bye, and give him a hug, and tell him I love him. I'm so glad I didn't miss the chance to tell him that.
My sister says that she learned that what feels like "home" to you has a lot to do with where you lived when you were 3 or 4 years old. Driving back to Bergstrom, I'm looking at the clouds and the great dome of the Texas sky and wondering if that's why the east coast makes me so nervous. But I get back to the city and it's cool outside, and the sun falling across my face is dazzling.