There were other people back there/then, bound up in who she was, who she has become. Now she is happy to pick out their voices in this visit to her past, her child mind.
Her memories drifting, focus in on Maris, strong hands, open caring face. “Singer’s mother, but in so many ways a mother to me.” Maris had taught her to sew, a strangely relaxing use of her hands and so practical for keeping garments in repair. She did not have Maris’s talent, nor her daughters’, Singer’s sisters, for the magic of the cloth. She did not seem to have the necessary patience. She did enjoy those times of womanly intimacy among Maris and her girls, sharing reminiscences, studying together in their conversation worlds of ideas and discoveries. The instance that occurred to her now was from when she was of the age still a child but starting to become aware of the intricate charms of romance. Puzzled by what was not evident from Maris’s reminiscing, she had asked:
“Why aren’t you angry, bitterly angry, when you speak of Aron? He betrayed you, deserted you and your children to keep his happy easy life.”
Aron had been Maris’s husband, father of her girls (but not Singer), back in the city, before the troubled times that marked her community’s history. Aron had left Maris rather than be exiled with her. He was not of the marked group except by marriage. The marriage had to go, not him.
“There is no need to annoy myself with anger.” Maris had pointed out. “He is the one who has missed out on this life, caught in the intrigues and unfortunate values we left behind. He is quite angry, ashamed, disappointed with himself, and does not have me to help him sort out his frustrations and confusions. I must admit, looking back, that a good part of why I was attracted to him, why I married him, was that he felt so needy at a time when I was consumed by the need to be needed. Having kids makes that nonoptional, puts it into immediate focus. Aron’s needs were no longer so important to me. Now, I’m not sorry that I loved him. I am sorry for him for giving up on himself, what he could have been if he’d ever really believed he could. When we’re young we take so much on faith in the future to make up for our ignorance.”
That was the kind of thing Maris would say. It all made sense in her clear, deliberate imagery, punctuated by wisps of passionate emotion that Caela had not understood at the time.
What would Singer say? The very young Singer when they were children working out together what must be the meaning, the appropriate attitudes toward life; Singer through all the years until the years that no longer held him. He was always with her still, in a sense by her side. She could feel his strength, unwavering sincerity, light gentleness of being. She could hear him lapsing into song as an integral part of whatever task or frivolity engaged him. He had always been so present in her life, from very early years. They had grown together such that his physical presence though missed was never essential to their bond.
Children together, parents together. Felicity had something of her mother’s gift for healing, though not her intensity. She was more her father’s easy-going side-kick, bright, flirtatious, friendly in that way of caressing openness, that sunny temperament that everybody loves. See her loving her life in the chaotic home she creates and shares with so many busy friends, constant activities, every day a celebration. Singer and Felicity always bubbling over with fun, enticing Caela to let go and enjoy the merriment. Just thinking of them always lightened her heart, widened her smile, brought laughter to her eyes.
He would say: “There is so much beauty, in here, out there, everywhere. Come, enjoy it all with me. Open your senses, feel that everpresent amazement when you take it all in. Feel me experiencing with you, my most precious friend.” Yes, he would be dancing, hugging, exhorting with melody and rhythm, imaging a clownish comedy of musical movement, hyperbolized flowering woods filled with glorious natural delights. She could feel his dancing eyes, sunlight smile, adoration, fused into the Singer center of her mind. Always.