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ALDER shares ‘Mary Dunham’: A Son’s Dedication, for life of memories and unending love.


It’s in the details – love that is.

We know of IT. We talk about IT. But what reminds us of how true love looks and feels like? It’s in the banal, the little inconspicuous items in life. When we remember a loved one, we often think about their little twinkle when they smiled, the big hearty smile he pronounced when happy, and the quiet touch of a mother’s touch, consoling and protective, when things just didn’t seem to go your way.

It’s the normal, day to day things we remember. Then our love is reciprocated in small touches, small bunches, in small increments – holding us together, with their larger than life memories.

We hold on, no matter how hard it can be. No matter how much we miss them.

But, still, we hold on.

Life is a complex box of chocolates and certainly never can know, 100%, what we’re going to get – but we try to steer ourselves towards ‘something’. At least we have that.

We go on, like human animals that we are – one step at a time, the best we can.

ALDER is an expressionist musician, composer and artist. And he has that deep longing in his heart and every fiber of his being. He misses Mary Dunham – his mother, his hero, and the rock who’d passed away too early.

‘Mother Mary’ is ALDER’s LP dedicated to Mary Dunham.

We dig that, lots – for his efforts and genuine expression for the one he loves.

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MARY: In ALDER’s own words. Framed within a memory.

THE first time my mother was able to move her left arm after waking from a coma was to hold me. We were standing for a photograph in front of a rocky cape in Portugal called A Boca do Inferno, or ‘The Mouth Of Hell’. Mary, my mother stands to my right in the picture, and strains a smile into the camera. Her arm is around my shoulder, and we are both shielding our eyes from the sun as it moves steadily westward. My two older brothers John and Bill stand to my left, Bill slightly behind John, with this hand fastened on John’s shoulder, a toothy grin spread like a wing across his face. John stands stocky and proud, a gelled tuft of hair on his forehead standing tall. He is wearing a bright red shirt that burns hot with the daylight, and his eyes are hidden under his squinting brow. Behind us, a rocky outcrop dissolves into the blue ocean, slightly curving at the corners of the photograph and meeting with the sky. Puffs of white clouds wander over the water and glow in the summer sun, and a drop of sweat runs into my brother’s eye. My father is standing behind the camera, lifting his sunglasses to look through the viewfinder. he is counting down in Portuguese and making a small joke to draw smiles, “Um, dois, tres, quiejo!”. It is early summer, my tenth birthday. My mother has been out of the hospital just over two weeks.

Boca de Inferno is imposing; it stretches along the coastline and rises above the water fro about twenty feet before leveling into cobble stone walkways and rocky hills. In the middle fo the rock wall, a large opening yawns out ot eh sea and fills a topless reservoir with water that rushes in during high tide. The cape is named from the lives that have been lost there, sailors and swimmers who have been inhaled into Boca do Inferno, swept up and crashed against the rocks, beatern and bruised by the waves. But for my mother, the name Boca do Inferno was a misnomer.

“What we shared there was not hell at all, but life, all of you helping me be alive, helping me recover.”

Neither my self nor my mother remember much about the circumstances of the picture, but she can easily recall feeling the power of the waves, feeling it as the waves struck the shore, the power cycling up through her legs and her spine, like a current. She can hear the sound of the ocean crashing against the mouth of hell, and she feels the heat of the summer sun shining against her skin. She told me that we were feeling the earth, feeling the earth as a living thing, hearing it call out as the waves roared on the rocks. She remembers feeling a very profound sense of respect for the earth in this fundamentally important geophysical site. She remembers her heart feeling as if it was sinking, because it was reminded that this was Boca do Inferno. She was reminded that there were people who never left from this place.

After snapping the family photo, we piled back into the baking hot car, me sitting sandwiched between my brothers, crushed by bony knees and elbows. As I was jockeying for space, I looked up at my mother sitting in the passenger seat as the car glided along the coast. She was staring out the window, squinting against the sun. She watched Boca do Inferno disappear and envelope into the rocky outcroppings, and suddenly, she froze and grew pale as the sun drew closer to the ocean.

She inhaled sharply through her nose and pressed her hand against the stiff window, clutching for the sun, as if she thought it might slip under the rolling waves and be lost.

Mary Dunham was born in New Philadelphia, Ohio, on March 26th, 1954, to Dick and Frances Dunham, joining a hard working, Catholic family of French, Scottish, and East European descent. Her maternal grandparents emigrated from what is now the Czech Republic; her grandmother Sophia Danec, an orphan, came alone to the United States when she was barely a teenager and her grandfather Walter came as an adolescent to work in the then booming Pennsylvania coal fields.

Mary passed away, after a traumatic accident and hardship in a coma – later leaving Earth from a family who loved her very much. A family dedicated to keeping her memory alive.

ALDER misses her, dearly.

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