Sunday, November 7, 2010

Late Night Memories of Late Night Grand Hotel




This is my favorite song by Nanci Griffith, who is one of my favorite singers. Ten years ago I brought the CD with us when we drove over to the coast to scatter my mother's ashes at sea, because this particular song could have been written about my mother and I identified it with her in the strongest of ways.

The appointment to be on board the whale-watching boat was scheduled for early afternoon and it was our intention to do the scattering and then drive home as we had not made arrangements for the dogs, who were waiting there for us.

We arrived at Depoe Bay to find the weather brisk and stormy and went to the charter boat kiosk to pay for our rides, only to be told that, "The bar is closed." Conditions were too dangerous for any captain to take any boat from the small bay out into the wild open ocean, i.e. "crossing the bar." The situation was repeated this year in late October, as described in a news article: First Storm of the Season Closes Bar Entrances and when I read that it brought back memories of our challenge ten years ago. Here is how we handled the change of plans.....

We asked if they might be able to take us out the following day and we were told there were no guarantees, that this was a heavy storm. We needed to call them the next morning to get a report on conditions. Michael suggested that I stay the night and that he would return home to care for the pets and we would hope for the best in 24 hours time. We had dinner there before he left, bringing my mother's ashes into the restaurant with us under my coat because we didn't want to leave them in the car. Thus, the "three" of us had a final lovely dining experience at the coast, something we had enjoyed many times together. We thought that quite funny.

I got a room at the motel where my mother and I had shared many great weekends together prior to my marriage with Michael. It was our place...beautiful rooms with ocean view, great indoor swimming pool, and hot sauna. Michael returned home and I was left alone with my mother's ashes, a small boombox, and my Nanci Griffith CD. I set my mother's ashes on the small round table in front of the windows and opened the windows wide to let the ocean sounds compete with Late Night Grand Hotel until it became too cold with them open. Then, with the room warming to a familiar coziness I repeated this one song over and over and over, not able to get enough of it, and each time feeling a stronger connection with my mother. So like her, so like her life. And I was sad that was true for her, but also proud of her for stepping into the role life gave her and for playing it so well.

The evening was exactly what I needed for our final farewell before the scattering that did in fact take place the following afternoon. I can honestly say that it was the most powerful and fulfilling night I have ever spent in a motel.


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17 comments:

Brian Miller said...

wow. nice. songs can do that...bridge the divivde...tap our memories...i have been there where i could just listen to a song again and again...

La Belette Rouge said...

What a beautiful memory. Strangely your story and the Nanci Griffith song made me think of a song that reminds me of my father. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imyLsZFn3cE&feature=related
Funny how the mind works.
xoxo

Owen said...

You tell this story beautifully, like we were there... rocked to sleep peacefully by your words and Nanci's voice...

Tumblewords: said...

A beautifully touching night. Thank you for sharing it with us...

Enjoy the Leonard Cohen concert - although I can't imagine how one could not! I'm more than a little envious, just sayin...

Lydia said...

Brian~ I wonder if artists ever consider, as they are recording, that some of their songs will serve in this kind of capacity...

Belette Rouge~ Well, there's a Sinatra song I never heard before. In viewing the clip I realize I have never seen that movie, darn. What a crazy conversation there at the piano!
And Kim Novak over against the wall...And re: how the mind works: My mother was an "extra" in a movie titled Five Against the House, filmed in the casino where she worked in Reno. There were also scenes around the area, including the university, and Kim Novak plays a college coed who sings sultry songs in a nightclub....I guess college jobs were a lot different in the late 1950s! Anyway, I have a VHS of the movie that Michael burned to a DVD. It is a treasure because I can stop the scenes where my mother walks by, and she is so young and pretty...just a kid herself, but already wise to the world.

Lydia said...

Owen~ Thank you. I am more touched by your comment than I can even say...

Tumblewords~ Thank you for reading it. Re: Leonard Cohen's concert, I am already worrying what the weather will be like on Dec. 8th, as we have a 40 mile drive and . . . well, the worrying goes along with the excitement. :)

Manuela said...

how moving, what you share with us - thank you!

Tzzumbi said...

it is really a nice song. thaks for sharing it with us :)

Lydia said...

Manuela~ Thank you for your special comment.:)

Tzzumbi~ How nice to see you! Thank you for your comment. I will visit your blog soon.

Rhiannon said...

Thank you so much for your heartfelt sharing of this story with us Lydia. I have read post before about your mother. I can tell that there is such a love and special place in your heart for her. It is so special. Your unconditional love and memories of her you carry with you in your heart.

Thank you also for this beautiful song video by Nanci Griffith..I absolutely loved it..it's sad yet so beautiful. I could understand her lyrics in relation to my life as a single woman for so long and the few relationship I have had since. I remember long ago, hearing Nanci sing "from a distance" way before Bette Midler sang it. I had thought Nanci had written it..so I went straight out looking for her Cd that had "From a distance" on it..enjoying all the other lovely songs on it so much. Only to find Nanci had not written "From a Distance" yet sang it in such a connected way to the song. Years later finding Bette sing and get the hit out of that very special song to me...I sighed and thought "well done Bette, but I think Nanci was a bit ahead of her time and this subject way before this hit of yours"..yet I have an old Bette album..with all her special songs that are special to me, like "You've got to have friends, la la la la la la la"...so true..and Bette's version of "Hello in there" written by John Prine...

Excited about your Leonard Cohen coming concert...hope you have a great time..let me know how things go.

So, "hello in there my dear friend" and hope your mother is up there somewhere "From a Distance" and you feel her soul reaching out to you...letting you know how very precious it is for you to keep her memory alive.

I'm just so touched by this post you wrote here and the video..all lovely and making me a bit tearful..but not the bad kind of tearful..more of a "soulful spiritual tearful".

Love,

Rhi

Tzzumbi said...

thanks for your comments. I found a link about Saint Nektarios, known for his countless miracles of healing, and as, "A Saint for our Time"


http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/readings/nektarios/nektarios.shtml

I appreciate if you can tell me if you have managed to acces this link ... Have a nice and blessed day

kathew said...

what a lovely post- and weren't you lucky to have Mother Nature provide you with that last night with your Mom.
Thanks for your kind comments.

Darlene said...

What a beautiful and poignant story accompanied by a lovely song. I loved it all, just as you loved your mother.

Music touches the emotions and we can connect with the past by listening to a song that has special meaning. It's as if there is no 'in between'.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

ok - so i don't know nancy griffiths, but the song sounds vaguely country influenced.

It's a nice song sure enough, but what's more important is the meaning that it has for you - that's why the best songs are always from the heart: because someone out there will be touched by it

Lydia said...

Rhi~ Wow, thank you for your understanding comments. I loved the special insights you gave into your own learning about Nanci Griffith and her music. I had heard that "From a Distance"-her version-had been a top-seller in the U.K., but after reading Pixies comment I am not sure that was true.
We saw Nanci Griffith here in Silverton at the Oregon Garden some years ago; she was special. I have read that since then she has had two bouts of cancer and was quite ill. But her website shows a new tour, so that is encouraging.
I can see how you would relate to the song also. I am just pleased you enjoyed this post. Love to you.

Tzzumbi~ How nice of you to give me the link! I was able to access the page and have it opened up to read. I am fascinated by saints, I must admit. Many thanks to you.

kathew~ Mother Nature did have a big role in it, but I never thought of it quite in those terms until you mentioned it. Thanks much!

Darlene~ As I read your comment I thought of the music you have shared that "belonged" to you and your husband. I imagine that your life together was filled with music and much joy. Your comment, as always, meant so much to me.

Pixies~ See my comment to Rhi above. Perhaps you did hear her version of "From a Distance" when you were a little kid...
You detected the country flavor because she is strongly folk-country (as opposed to the country rock now) and is a Texas girl. I read her bio last evening while I was looking for information on her recent health difficulties and found that she had a history with hallucinatory drugs that I was unaware of. People are so interesting!

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

hi lydia - most famous version here of From A Distance is Bette Midler's recording

I'm reliably informed that Cliff Richard (amongst many others) also did it

I checked my (pretty exhaustive) Guinness World Records British Hit Singles book (year 2000 edition) and there's no mention of Nanci Griffith - so it doesn't look like she was a hit here. Sorry :(

Lydia said...

Pixies~ Well, that settles that! Thanks for clarifying the info. :)

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