When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to have the television on before five pm. The only exceptions to this were Star Trek, Saturday morning shows that lasted til 10 AM (Mainly Sid and Marty Kroft stuff, not animation), and, if it was summer, or I was home from school sick, I would ask to watch old musicals. (To this day, I still feel guilty if I’m watching television before five on a weekday, but I don’t mind spending the occasional Saturday curled up on the couch watching movies with Fuzzy,). One of my favorite musicals was Bridagoon. Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, and all that lovely alliteration:
The mist of May is in the gloaming.
There’s lazy music in the rill.
So take my hand, and let’s go roaming
Through the heather on the hill.
It’s the last line that I love. It’s this wonderful image of being totally free, and just giving in to the moment. The kind of thing that can only happen in a musical.
Holding hands while wandering through a field of flowers isn’t something I’ve ever experienced, but holding hands while walking on the beach, or down a street, is.
My grandmother used to clutch at my hands, gripping too far down on my fingers, rather than across the palms. It drove me crazy, but it made her happy to have human contact. “Your hands are so warm,” she’d say, when hers were cold. “Hold mine and warm them.”
Once, the three of us, my grandmother, my mother, and I, stood hand in hand on a boardwalk overlooking the ocean. I think it was a few months after my grandfather had died, and we’d just scattered some of his ashes. It’s the kind of moment that, in a musical, would signal a poignant trio, but life isn’t a musical, and our moment was silent, though, in retrospect, I’d have loved a picture, three generations of women holding hands and staring into the sea, daring life to throw something else at them.
Several years later, walking with my mother on the beach, we both stopped to pick up sticks. We wrote names in the sand: Esther, Edward, my grandparents’ names, and then we stopped, and held hands in a moment of mother-daughter communion.
In that moment, I’d have done anything to be seven again, for just a moment. For having my grandfathers’s strong, square hand surrounding one of my smaller, more delicate ones, and for having my grandmother clutching tightly to the fingers of the other.