Saturday, May 8, 2021

NY missive no 179 - Eternal Flame

Yesterday would have been Mum’s 74
th birthday. She died soon after her 70th, four years ago. As I often do on her birthday, I walked down to Socrates Sculpture Park, where we scattered half of her ashes in the East River (the other half we scattered by a big tree in London, which P and I used to climb as kids). 

Down on the sand at Hallet’s Cove there were seagull footprints. We all leave our marks. To be considered, appreciated, each one absolutely unique, eventually erased – actually I should say absorbed – by tidal flows, or generations. 

There was sculpture in the park, called Eternal Flame. As P said when I sent her a photograph, it’s not beautiful to look at. (In fact it could almost look like a crematorium chimney). But the idea is beautiful; it’s a concrete chimney with four barbecue grills at the bottom, which visitors are welcome to use, and which prompts thinking about the communal act of cooking and the fact that at any moment in time, somewhere in the World someone is tending to a cooking fire. 

I sat down on one of the brightly-painted picnic benches by the sculpture, and sent my photo and message to P. I told her that I had walked down to the Sculpture Park with the little blue backpack that Mum used to use, which she always said was so practical and useful. And that, writing "backpack", got me crying. Funny how it can take a very specific object like that to cut through the nonsense and get to the center of how you’re feeling. A kind of emotional acupuncture by objects and memories. 

On Mum's birthday, invariably a bright Spring day, I always feel a mixture of deep sadness, with being inspired and recharged by her memory. 

Eternal Flame sculpture in Socrates Park, from when I was there

And Eternal Flame sculpture from above, from the Socrates Park website

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