On 10 August 2017, in Bergerac, France my daughter, Michelle Elisabeth Townsend, married.
Michelle gave me 45 seconds to summarize before the assembled my impressions, recollections, hopes and fears. I wanted five days. Patrice made me sit down, write what I wanted to say. When I showed her my introduction (40 pages), my wife replaced the IPAD in my hand with a glass of Bordeaux, and jotted five bullet points. I spoke my words in a trance.
All of my five children, of whom I am inordinately proud, came. I have reason to be. I recently watched the film Wind River. I don’t wish to be melodramatic, but raising Robert-Marcia-Deborah-Christopher-Michelle seemed much like that. One just didn’t know what hair-raising scheme they’d next think up. So I have recollections. I will intersperse them over next several blogs. In Bergerac, France, there was a Wedding, at which I was inordinately happy.
Memories: She sang
Are you kidding? A daughter’s wedding? Memories? They came in torrents. For your sake, I will discipline myself. For all Michelle’s accomplishments, one for me stands out: she sang.
Michelle was born in the Fall 1981 at Landstuhl Army Medical Center, Germany. When Sue and I married, I was stationed in Washington, D.C., but after several months of marriage, even I, emotionally clueless, could see we had to get out of there. Living was just too hard. I transferred to HQ USAFE, Ramstein, Germany, rented a large house with large garden and orchard in the German village of Gries, midway between Kaiserslautern, Germany and Saarbrucken, France. There, we began to blend a family. There, Robbie came into his own. Marcia, after an eighteen-month horrendous encounter with medical malpractice at LAMC, made the whole of Germany her playground. Deborah, a free if slightly erratic spirit, was safe. My career recovered from my bad boy days in Berlin. Christopher was born (1978), and the Michelle (Fall 1981).The family was blending. We were figuring one another out.
Four years passed. I was up for reassignment. I had a post-Ramstein choice––Stuttgart, or Washington, D.C. Stuttgart = fewer officers, more chance to stand out; Washington, D.C. = Opposite. But Sue’s mother had cancer, and Sue was returning regularly, babes in baskets, to Florida to help however she could. Without discussing it with Sue, I chose Washington, D.C. Thus, I thought, Sue could be close to her dying mother.
Michelle, a few months old, sensed turmoil, stopped sleeping. In the dark of the German night, I carried her over village streets and along farm field paths. Wer reidet so spat durch nacht and wind. Es ist der Vater mit seinem kind. It would take two or three hours. I sang the songs I knew, mostly Paul Robeson. Our walks continued into the Northern Virginia nights, 8-9 months, I seem to remember. August full moons, bitter January cold, dense fog, formations of F-15s and single C-5a’s all alight on the glide path into Ramstein AB, Germany, laying her down asleep, the whole house asleep. I resented it not a whit. It was our time together.
And somewhere in there Michelle began to sing. I am learning IMovie. My initial video, Michelle sings, is not good. I will get better and next week or the week after, when its ‘pretty good, I’ll post it here. I am at the age that when I undertake any project, I assess first its ‘twofer’ value. For example, I have published several blogs about deception, which is also Danton Volkov Larionov’s (a character in Resurrection) skill set plus a novel motiv. My through-the-end-of-2017 project––digitize my photo and many-formats video collection––provides imagery for book trailers. I’ve got some good stuff. We’ll see what turns out. Then, I’ll show you.