For some time, though, he struggled for more to hold on to. "Are you sure you have told me everything you know about his death?" he asked. I said, "Everything." "It's not much, is it?" "No," I replied, "but you can love completely without complete understanding." "That I have known and preached," my father said..."It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us."
- Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It
I finished Maclean's beautiful story last night for the umpteenth time. And as the previous umpteenth times, the final pages were read through tears. For you see, my brother and I are preacher's sons, which would necessitate our father being a preacher and his wife being a preacher's wife. It was just the four of us and I am the oldest son. And whereas Maclean's father taught his sons to fish, our father taught us to love music. Instead of learning of dry flies and roll casting and trout, we learned of Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond and Rod McKuen. But in a very similar way, our father taught us to listen, for in the beginning was the Word and if you listen carefully you will hear that the words are beneath the water or the music.
Then I walked across the street
And caught the Sunday smell of someone frying chicken.
And Lord, it took me back to something that I'd lost
Somewhere, somehow along the way...(JC)
Did you ever read about a frog who dreamed of bein' a king
And then became one
Well except for the names and a few other changes
If you talk about me, the story's the same one. (ND)
Still in all I'm happy
The reason is, you see
Once in a while along the way
Love's been good to me. (RM)
And so, as I read last night about Maclean's brother and father and mother, I thought of my mine. And of me. Of how those he loved and did not understand when he was young are dead and how those I love are still alive, but I fear I do not understand them, not completely at least. As I'm sure my son and daughters will one day feel about me and my girlfriend and our family. But as Norman said, "you can love completely without complete understanding." I agree. This I have known and preached. But you must listen and listen carefully, for beauty is afoot in this grand old world.
Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river or a song runs through it. On some of the rocks or notes are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks or notes are the words, and some of the words are theirs. And ours. And they are beautiful.