Saturday, April 05, 2008


I went to a memorial today for Rolf. He worked in the box office at my college for 10 years. I was already in tears before the service began, looking at the slide show his son had compiled. Here's the little boy in Hamburg who walked 200 miles home after the war, ducking American and Russian soldiers as well as artillery planes. Here's the young bride and groom delirious, hopeful, in love, the entire family on the beach - him lying on his side, her head resting on his ribs, a look of sheer content on his face, the children all nearby. When I looked at the photo I could almost feel the sun on his face and the quiet glow inside him as the woman he loved reclined on him and I wondered if in that moment he had ever so briefly stopped to survey his life and felt satisfied. There was one slide that really got me - he and his wife intently playing chinese checkers not even noticing the camera. The little moments, so important.

Later in the afternoon the daughters and son would recall the man who would drive all day for them, who would carry them on his shoulders, who loved listening to music, who taught his son the value of work and of just showing up and once again it hit me like a thunderbolt that all this running and searching and chasing we do, all our accomplishments, all our acquisitions are nothing compared to those moments - walking home, lying next to someone you love, showing up for people, driving them - these are the things that we remember about someone who passed - these are the real accomplishments.

There is so much I wanted to accomplish in my life that I didn't. I feel like my performing career was just taking off when I got this diagnosis. Now I can no longer do my show at all and yet all those little seemingly insignificant moments in my life are still there regardless and I can call them up whenever I need them. My son telling me the latest current events, a friend I haven't spoken to for awhile on the other end of the phone, walking to the bus stop to meet my dad after a long day of work. Pure gold.

The play my students and I are creating is based on a play by Aristophanes in which a man goes up to the heavens to persuade the gods to rescue Peace who has been buried by War. He succeeds. In our play, however, Peace is not buried. She is right there where everyone can see her. They just don't see her. And in the end, our heroine goes to great lengths to find Peace and is literally leaning against Peace....but doesn't notice. Life is like that I think.


Anonymous said...


I got this silly forward the other day in my email box, but it's completely on point to this post, so I'm quoting it.:)

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.

4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.

5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and

6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

Now, try this.

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.

2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and

5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

How did you do?

Carla Zilbersmith said...

I did this several months ago with my son and it was hilarious because while he couldn't name all the Heisman winners or any Miss AMerica winners he nailed the rest then said "did I just ruin your point?" To which I replied "depends on how you do with the rest."

Connecting Stories said...

Dunno why but I got an email from AnnRandolph? But she sent a link to your blog.
So I am writing. Maybe because my favorite Aunt had ALS? Because I have a 15 year old daughter? Because i am also a performer? Because Our 4-6th grade did Peace also in MAY 2003. Right after Mission Accomplished was anounced. It was powerful play then, now and 1000 years ago. Right on for keepin on...I wish you all strength, light and love you need in your struggle.

Carla Zilbersmith said...

HI Norah,

tried to contact you through your blog but yours is set to private. Thanks for the post. SOunds like we have a great deal in common. would love to chat sometime.


Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see the play Carla. I think it will reinforce for me the gift that your words have already offered -- that Peace/Gratitude/Love are right there, within reach.