I’m not much on remembering the death dates of loved ones. I think about those I love at odd moments and really don’t want to remember specifically, the day I lost them.
Some loses come on days that are known for another reason, though, like Christmas or Thanksgiving, or someone’s birthday, and those anniversary dates are harder to ignore.
My father died on Good Friday one year, but since the date for celebrating Easter changes, this one never really stuck with me, until my mother pointed out that my father, a magician, died on Friday the thirteenth. I was struck so numb at my father’s death that nothing really registered with that day, except the fact that I had missed seeing him one last time by just three days.
We planned a memorial service; something informal, with lots to drink, which is what my father would have wanted. We invited friends and family, of course, and also members of the International Brotherhood of Magicians to give my father the proper magician’s funeral.
I knew it would be impossible, but I wanted to talk about all my memories at that service. About our dining room which became a pool table room which became a photography studio which became home to an HO model railroad display. About tropical fish. About coming home from a date at the same time that my father was getting up to go fishing. About him getting up early to fix waffles for me before I left for a dog show. About winning the high school talent show with a magic routine he taught me. About the magic of being his daughter…
He was a prestidigitator. A delineator of deceptive dexterity. A thaumaturgist. A practitioner in the art of legerdemain. A magician, plan and simple. And he was here to show us how it was done.
Magic was the constant in a lifetime of various hobbies and interests. Among the fishing rods and flies, the chess pieces and chess correspondence notebooks, amidst the cameras and darkroom chemicals, throughout the cooking spices and golf balls, were scattered brightly colored silks, thumb tips, slates, linking rings, magic wands, and the elusive wiffle dust, all made holy by audience applause.
His goal and delight was to entertain, and entertain he did. At family gatherings, at parties, in restaurants and bars, anywhere and everywhere, to an audience of one or one hundred. He was rarely without a deck of cards, and if there were no cards, there was always a coin or two in the bottom of a pocket, and that was enough.
For over half a century he entertained young and old alike, and when he could not entertain, he taught. He shared his enthusiasms with one and all, like explosions of flash paper, and like flash paper, there was always a burst of illumination.
So, head for the trout stream on the first day of the season, and move your pawn to king four. Take the perfect picture, and make a batch of chili. Try for a hole in one. Cut and restore the rope, produce the missing card. And remember a magician, plain and simple
Causes Susan Ewing Supports
Arts Council for Chautauqua County
American Cancer Society
Cat Writers' Association, Inc.