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Diary Entry 1981-19 : An Angel from the Netherlands

Tag: English 1981 ← Please click here.
Tag: English 1982 ← Please click here.
Tag: English 1983 ← Please click here.
Other English Version ← Please click here.

b0071688_10305678.jpg
#An Angel from the Netherlands

On July 11th, after seeing “Swan Lake” at O’Keeffe Centre I could hardly wait to visit the Smiths’ house again. It was bad of me to barge in unannounced, but it was very difficult to call them on the phone and ask for a visit.
I could hear some noise from the back terrace. When I went behind and looked, I saw a beautiful woman standing on the newly built terrace.

“Good afternoon,” I greeted her.
“Are you Mako?”
Her voice was nice, and I felt myself relaxing immediately upon hearing it.
I asked, “Are you the lady of the house?”
Gazing at her husband, she replied with deep emotion, “Yes, I am.” Her name was Francis. I had an impression they were close and loved each other.

“Have you contacted Gould’s father for me?”
“He is ill, so I couldn’t broach that subject with him when I called,” Robert replied.

“Would you like to see the inside of the house? Please, do come in.” Francis stood up energetically, carrying well a big, round belly. A baby was going to come to this world any day now.

The rooms inside the house were beautiful. Private rooms of modest size were lined up with a fairy-tale-like atmosphere. We climbed a beautiful staircase that led to the second floor.

“This used to be Glenn’s room!”
I couldn’t believe such a big man like Gould had lived in that tiny room. Next to it was another room. That was my hosts’ bedroom. At the end of the corridor was a study room.

“We used to live in a house on the south side of this street. My husband is a lawyer, and he wanted to have a study besides the bedroom. When Mr Gould remarried he offered to sell this house to us, so we decided to buy it. I guess Glenn’s elderly father didn’t like the idea of selling his house to a complete stranger.
I don’t think there is another father who did so much for his son as Mr Gould. This house is full of his memories with his son.”

“Your husband is a lawyer?”
“Yes, he works in a legal office in Queen Street.”

“Oh, now I understand! Before coming to Toronto I spent one and a half months in Vancouver, and I though there I was going to meet a lawyer.”
“Why did you think that?”
“It was just a feeling.”

Francis laughed in a kind way. She was the fourth of five sisters and used to people, and maybe because of that she was clever and enchanting.

“I was ill for a long time when I was younger, and Gould was my purpose of living during that time. I lived to travel to Canada and meet him one day.”
She didn’t ask me more questions after that.

“Does your stomach feel heavy?”
“Well, yes, it does, but more than that, the baby is quite restless. It should be born before long.”

After she showed me the rooms upstairs, unintentionally I took her hand in a handshake. I put so much energy in it that it turned more into a grip of hands than a handshake.

“Thank you so much for being so kind to me. I can’t express how grateful I am. Thank you for your kindness.”

“You’re welcome. There are books and records that Gould’s elderly father couldn’t take with him after he remarried. Gould does not hate people, but he finds tenacious fans irksome. His performances on TV are proof that he is not a shy person.”

“Anyhow, I wonder if their special relation isn’t because Gould is an only child.”

My problem with English was vexing me so much. I met many nice people, and if I could have spoken in my native language we could have had such nice conversations. However, I fretted because I couldn’t express myself.
When I spoke in Japanese, though, the conversation led nowhere if the person I spoke with was not interested in its content. But I knew that, with my English language ability, even if I met Gould I would not be able to communicate with him.

There was a piano in a room downstairs.
“Do you play? This is his mother’s Flora piano.”

It was a piano with great performances. Of course, Gould must have played it as well. When I sat at the piano, I saw on the top shelf on my right a thick, old SP collection of Beethoven sonatas performed by Artur Schnabel.

Once, my mother who listened to Gould’s performance of Beethoven sonatas on the radio laughed saying, “Gould is imitating Schnabel. He must be Schnabel’s fan.”
My mother was right. This SP collection is the same as the one my mother listened to with her older brother when she was in her teens. Well, of course they would have it in this house.

Robert was busy with the construction of the terrace. Last month I received the top hospitality from the husband, and this time I received it from his wife.

“That piano was Glenn’s mother’s piano,” Robert told me.
“Yes, I heard that from your wife.”

“His father couldn’t take it with him, so he asked if we would buy it.”
“That is a Chickering piano, right?”
“Yes, it is. There are many things in this house Mr Gould left behind. You can come and see them later again. The piano has a rather good sound.”

“You made quite a nice terrace.” With these words I parted from them. I walked down Southwood Hill with my hopes even higher then they had been before.
 
When I returned to my lodging, for some reason I continued thinking intensely about nothing else but Gould’s mother Florence.
I remembered the lines written on the back of one of Gould’s record covers, “When I was three years old I started learning the piano from my mother who was an amateur pianist.”
“Is that the house? Where Gould pursued his passion?”
For some reason, persons of Florence and Francis came to overlap in my mind.

Francis was born in the Netherlands in 1953. She came to Canada with her family following their dream. She showed me a photo of her as an intelligent-looking child, standing on the ship bound for Canada.

She was cheerful and talkative. And later in our relationship I would occasionally notice, “You haven’t been really listening to what I was saying since a while ago, have you? Go ahead and try and repeat what I said last!” We communicated in quite a sister-like manner.

Translated by Saiko 




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by mhara21 | 2017-08-27 10:33 | 後追い日記81年 | Comments(0)
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