For Antonio: No. 21 of 40 Forts
When I said that the timing was perfect on writing about the forts again, I mean it was perfect. This latest fort was made in honor of my father-in-law, who is sitting in the room with me as I type. He has no idea, of course.
I first created this piece after thinking about immigration stories. Several years ago, we sat down to record Antonio’s description of his trip into the United States from Spain via Canada over forty years ago. He talked for I believe 113 minutes. Or somewhere to close to that. It wasn’t an hour. Definitely close to two hours. And then we discovered, oops, the battery was dead in the microphone. Martina died laughing. We decided to put it off until another time. At least six years have passed since the another time.
Tonight we put Lucy to bed after a full day of play and pulled out the photo albums from the wedding. Antonio put on a quite a show mixing a huge bowl of sangria! I wish that I knew to make it a bigger deal than it was. For many it was the highlight of the night. We needed more sangria. I missed even getting a taste.
Antonio is a great showman. He spent countless years working in some of the finest restaurants in Paris, Montreal, Baltimore, New York and Palm Beach. And he also started a few of his own. So even when we sit down to breakfast, the presentation is well thought out. Every meal includes courses, tablecloths, cloth napkins, and typically an hors d’ouvres. It is completely different from my experience of buffet-style family dinners. At our meals, moms with kids go first. After the blessing, you are on your own for food and refills.
Plus Henry’s family is so clean. The first time I went to visit them in Florida, I used the bathroom, threw away a little trash, and returned a couple of hours later to an empty trash can. Later we went to the beach. I was the only one of four to get any sand on the completely spotless floor mats. Talk about intimidating. But I am lucky to have such warm and gracious hosts as part of my family. This meticulous presentation may sound stuffy, but they are far from that. Instead they are incredibly welcoming and always introduce me as their daughter.
For this fort, I created an homage to Antonio, who once admitted that he dreams about life in the restaurant. When we watched Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, he said he loved the restaurant scenes. He is a garcon through and through. When I saw this image of the young waiter, he reminded me so much of the young Antonio. A young entrepreneur delving into the American Dream. How many people can say that they served THE Mr. Cartier nightly? I will save the secrets he shared for the actual audio interview.
The format of the fort reminds me of a serving tray stand. I created a small tray with a folded napkin for the “biostanza” text, which reads:
She appreciated his love of presentation as expressed in life’s minutiae.
Just yesterday, I received a card in the mail from Jimmie, a very special of my friend of mine from my home church Friendship. She had made a CD sharing her stories with her grandchildren. She wrote:
Caroline, when my sister died in 1999 (of lupus), she left a family with many small grandchildren who would never be able to converse with her. I sat down and made a tape with them in mind. I hope Lucy will enjoy these as she grows up.
She thought that I might also enjoy them and sent one to me, as well. She was right. I can’t wait to listen to it. We received our new computer today and that will be one of the first things I put on my iPod. What a nice way to drive home to North Carolina on a long road trip.
Each week, I think I wish I had watched Who Do You Think You Are?, a show that highlights celebrities learning about their family history. I am so thankful to be so well connected to my own. I hope that I can teach Lucy to appreciate her connectedness to her family, as well. Especially for her abuelo Antonio, who might earn first place for grandparent attentiveness.
Need help sharing your family stories? Learn great tips from DMB Pictures.
This paper sculpture, roughly the size of a coffee cup, is one of forty forts I created during Lent 2010 as a creative exercise and spiritual exploration.
Read about all of the Forty Forts.
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