Friday, September 10, 2021

Connecting With the Ineffable

"Let's think the unthinkable, let's do the undoable.
Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself,
and see if we may not eff it after all.”
- Douglas Adams (1952 - 2001)

For dedicated readers of my blog, this entry will appear a bit out of the norm. For one thing it does not include any photographs taken by me; for another, I'm quoting an "Adams," but not one whose first name is Ansel. The diptych you see above contains two of my dad's acrylic paintings he completed in the spring of 2001, which (immediately after completing them) he called Premonition 1 and 2, respectively. And, as he commonly did with "new" work, he displayed them on my parents' living room's main wall; where they unceremoniously hung through 9/11. Today, Sep 11, 2021, marks the 20th anniversary of that day, one that is simultaneously best forgotten and never forgotten. Unlike the families of the 2977 people who were killed that day (including 2606 at the World Trade Center), my family did not suffer the pain of losing any loved ones in that tragedy; though we believed for a time that my mom, who was 70 years old in 2001 and worked on the 91st floor of the second tower, was, using a favorite turn of phrase of hers, "a goner." Somehow, miraculously, she survived (you can read a bit of her story in the New Yorker Magazine - just search the page for "Ilachinski"), and eventually died almost exactly 16 years later, on Sep 9, 2017. Like so many other "survivors," my mom suffered gravely from "survivors guilt," anguishing to her last days over why she, an "old timer" (her words) lived when so many young people did not. My dad, who was at home in bed at their home on Long Island as events unfolded (and only a few months away from passing away from cancer a few months later) was too weak and riddled with pain-killers to know or assimilate much of what happened that day. After my mom finally made it back to their home close to midnight, she was startled - shocked is a better word (if I remember how my mom characterized it) - by "seeing" my dad's theretofore innocently but provocatively named "Premonitions" - still hanging quietly on their living room wall - transfigured into truly prophetic - albeit unrecognized - warnings; which is at least how my parents now interpreted them. For me, all these years later, these paintings are touchstone reminders of the mysterious rhythms and patterns that make up our universe; echoes of even deeper connections that special souls (such as my dad the artist) are sometimes able to forge with the ineffable. As memories of 9/11 flood my mind on this anniversary, I find solace in the art my dad bequeathed me (even these two "Premonitions"; you can see more of his work here), and the memory of so many happy years I still had to share with my mom. My prayers go out to those who were not so lucky.

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