Greta & The Dark Trees

Photo courtesy of a friend who lives in N.Y.C.

I met her once. A stranger to start, a friend at the end. It was during Greta’s final get-together – that wonderful Sunday afternoon surprise when so many stopped by to see tears and smiles find their way over grateful cheeks.

She came to see a friend. A musically connected friend to whom so many memories of a dad were embedded into a jazz-filled room from their past. Her dad and Greta bent rhythms and sounds into sculptures of lasting remember-whens.

Not just music. Included in these times was a picture. To identify it as a “picture” does no justice to the artwork. To my understanding, an original piece hung in the studio where Greta and a special dad recorded. This was a large, Greta original. As unique as she was:

This was an enlarged engraving she did of an old family photograph. Not surprising to me, it was exceptionally well done … in as much as my pianistic eyes could determine.

My new friend rediscovered this gem after days of dutiful praying and diligent perseverence. She wasn’t going to be denied. Knowing Greta’s deeply held respect for her family, she found it behind, below, and beside other of life’s set-asides. With all the possibilities where this art could have been set aside, she held the hands of memories that day as a small gate opened upon her arrival.

And Greta’s life – with all it’s problems and challenges at that moment – was embraced by those memories as well.

A New York friend. A connection to Greta. Someone I met once. A stranger to start, a friend at the end.

She left an hour or so after arriving and I’ve kept in touch since then, infrequently. In the meantime, Greta passed on to etch her way into our sad, but grateful hearts. All of us are so grateful to have loved someone so special. We lost someone dear to us. For me, I have an acquaintance-connection otherwise not possible if not for Greta.

When I saw her post pictures of Central Park recently, my mind immediately swung back to that small metal gate. An entrance to a Sunday afternoon when some – who were strangers to me – became friends … thanks, in no small way, to Greta’s heart full of sunshine through the dark trees in her life.

That is this picture. A central park-place for all of us to remember what life can be. In the middle of really stupid stuff – even terminal cancer – there can be a little sunshine. In my case, it’s been friends.

Your little sunshine doesn’t have to be friends, of course. Hopefully, dark trees in your way aren’t tumors from rare, terminal appendiceal cancer. Wherever you are sitting … whatever green, lush lawn finds your life struggles reclining upon, look for that little peek of sunshine glancing across the blades. It’s very likely a connection of some kind will be there for you.

If nothing else, a memory.

I’m glad I met her once. Her name? Silent here because she represents all those who have stepped forward from behind the dark trees of a brave, talented, artistic, beautiful life – into the central park-place where strangers are now friends…

…because Greta was truly an original. A one of a kind. Someone I am so glad I met once as well.

… And missed by all who knew her.

One thought on “Greta & The Dark Trees

  1. Doug. Thank you for your continued sharing of memories of our dear Greta. That Sunday was magical…Mia and I are so grateful we were able to share in it. Yes, Greta was exhausted when we arrived around 1:00 (greeted by the sweet Padamonskys who were also relishing a visit and soon joined by my sister, Melanie).

    After a hug, Mia told Greta that she would not be off to music theatre and acting school in NYC, at Greta’s alma mater, if it weren’t for a phone conversation they had in the spring where Greta encouraged Mia to apply. Then Greta’s mom brought out her old high school and college photo albums, and suddenly Greta was young and carefree in her memories, remembering and telling us about every picture, performance, person, moment.

    Bravely, Greta’s mom told Mia that Greta will be with her in NY, looking over her shoulder and giving her a boost when she needs it. That had to have been hard for a mother to offer her still-living daughter as a future angel, and it was not long before Mia was off to the city. And I know Greta is with her. They shared a long hug that day, and when I told her we loved her, she just said “I didn’t know. I didn’t know people loved me.” Of course she knew her loved ones, you, family, loved her, but she seemed truly stunned by the reach and impact she made on other people.

    We are all so fortunate to have been enriched by her. I like to think of her as the young, gorgeous, talented, unmatched songstress and artist she was, but now seasoned with time. Now ethereally magical, looking over your shoulder, too.


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