Sunday, February 10, 2019
But I simply couldn't miss it.
More than I realized I wanted to see it live. It was beyond important.
As Tevye sang about traditions I could picture my Dad. He was definitely about traditions.
More importantly it was because the very first live performance I can recall seeing was Fiddler on the Roof. Mom and Dad took us girls to see it at the small performing arts center on the little base that lay between Ramstein and Kaiserlautern military bases. It was probably in the late 70's, and I think the name of the base was Einseidlerhof, if my rusty memory is correct. They weren't Broadway actors, they weren't even off Broadway actors, they were just other people from our community that got together to entertain all of us.
I can't recall another opportunity to attend a production over the years. I wasn't missing this one. It flicked in and out of my mind, small pieces of the past tripping over today.
As I listened and watched there were moments that filled my eyes with tears. My Dad was a lot like the Poppa, all about tradition, wanting the final say on everything, I mean after all he was the Poppa. I think we may have let him believe that he was definitely that Poppa. Yet as I watched the struggles he had with each of his daughters come to life last night, I watched our lives acted out. There are only 4 of us girls, but we definitely were all about balking at tradition. We'd been raised for the changing times and we definitely were set on breaking all the rules and traditions.
I don't know that any of us really ever let Daddy know that it was the Momma our own Golde, was the one making us toe as many lines as possible. And even she struggled, we were each wild in our own ways, we wanted to grow to be the women we were destined to be. She was firm when she had to be and loving always. There were times that I'm sure we caused her much grief. But she was solid and insured we became the women we are today.
As I listened and watched the beautiful violin music it wove my memories into the story unfolding. I was more like Chava, the one that broke her parents hearts by going against what they allowed, she was dead to them. The final scenes when Tevye wouldn't say goodbye brought me to tears. There was a time in my own life that I lived that scene. I had to follow my own path and for a while ripped myself far from my family.
That path was short lived in the grand scheme of things and ironically we rejoined each other in America. Hard to believe a story written about 1905 Russia could echo so strongly with my own journey.
My Daddy was all about traditions. Even now we girls (and yes we consider Momma to be one of us girls) often fall back on those traditions. Daddy always expected us to dress just so, it was a badge of honor for him. And there are days that I am getting ready for work and I swear I can hear him in my head, using my given name, not the nickname of my youth asking me if that was how I wanted to represent our family.
It's been over a year now since the last picture of the six of us was taken. I cherish it and hate it all at once. It was the last time that Daddy was completely aware of all of us and was joking and commanding our attention. It will forever be a cherished memory, just as it will forever bring tears to my eyes and a million things I wish we had talked about.
Oh girls... come back. Those words were said right before that picture is taken, they'd chased us out for a moment while they prepped him for surgery. It was only a stolen moment, but now it feels like the most egregious theft of time to ever exist.
Soon we will hit the one year mark. Our traditions have changed. But last night, I could almost see my Dad waving his arms and singing TRADITIONS! His family line hails from not too far west of where the play was set. Maybe that is why I can see him in it.
Each of us has traditions that we cling stubbornly to and that our children, grand children and generations to follow will try to go against. Somehow, the core of those traditions always sneaks back in as we grow. There is a small twist, but at the very center the tradition remains. It doesn't seem to matter where you come from, family beliefs or roads traveled. Family roots run deep and are seeped in tradition. Family stories are full of heartbreak and love, and the journey is beautiful.
Cherish your traditions, allow room to go against them, and simply love. Life is far too short.
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