Thursday, November 7, 2019
It Could Have Been a TV Drama Series
The photo was taken in the second living room. The doorway behind my mother led to the kitchen and then the sunporch. To her left was the dining room where on Christmas Eve she'd set the table using her finest linen and her finest china with candles in crystal candle holders and silverware kept in a mahogany box lined in velvet brought out only for Christmas Eve.
The more I look at the photo the more I imagine it as a set from an old TV drama series filmed in California's wine country. With that infamous hat at his fingertips, my father could have been the actor, Art Carney. With her short, dark hair, my mother could have been the actress, Jane Wyman. Art Carney's character could have started out as a grape picker at a celebrated winery and worked his way up to vineyard manager while Jane Wyman's character cared for their daughters and was a housekeeper for the winery's family matriarch-a rich and powerful woman and owner of a sprawling mansion and that winery in her possession for decades. Art and Jane's characters live in a little home. They are hard workers and good parents. None of that goes unnoticed by the family matriarch. When she passes away, the matriarch leaves everything to Art and Jane's characters. In her air tight will, sealed and notarized, the woman tells her children, who are now adults, they don't deserve to inherit something they've taken for granted; something they've never bothered with or worked for while waiting for her to pass. Instead of caring and tending to the grapes, they've consumed the wine as if it was water streaming out of a faucet.
In the last episode of this popular TV drama-so popular that viewers rooted for this little family week after week as they survived one crisis after another while those rich brats rode around in their fancy cars wearing their fancy diamonds and designer clothing and drinking their wine in long stemmed crystal glasses, the family is packing up their little home. They are sad to leave it. That's where they've lived since arriving at the winery. They've welcomed their children in that home. They've made friends who would come for supper on Sunday evenings. That's where they've celebrated holidays and birthdays. They've enjoyed the sun porch and the big back yard. Their oldest daughter is very sad. She's going to miss her bedroom with back stairs leading down to the kitchen and the high counter where her tadpole swims in a bowl of water.
The last scene shows them walking out the back door of their little house for the last time with that young girl carrying her tadpole in its bowl of water-just like I did when we left that clapboard house sitting on the lane and moved to the country. Once that family settles in the mansion, they're very happy. That mansion feels like home. Once my family and I were settled in our new home out in the country, we were very happy. While it didn't have a sunporch, it did have fields to play in and a creek to skate on. While my bedroom lacked backstairs going down to the kitchen, it had a window looking out towards the back fields. That's where my desk sat. That yellow house out in the country felt like home because it became our home.
It wasn't a mansion. It wasn't a clapboard house sitting on a lane. It was home and home is in one's heart.