Door to Destiny

Dear Angelene,

Your papa took lots of photos at the Congress Theater on Saturday night. Your mama titled the black-and-white photo above the Door to Destiny. It leads to the stage -- to her destiny.

The photo has a stylized 1950s feel to it -- maybe because the man wears a white shirt and tie. I like it.

My favorite is your mom's band -- The Right Now -- getting ready to go through that door. The hallway comes to life in the second photo. Those are 1960s acid colors. I do love the sixties -- I grew up with the Beatles.

I also love the last picture of the band's back-up singers. They're in the dressing room getting ready to go on. Grandma J's favorite color is orange, but I'd like the picture even if it weren't tinted orange.

Your dad won awards in school for his photographs and paintings. He comes by his talent naturally from your great-grandfather Edward Jackson (my father). When my dad died, I discovered in our basement thousands of photographs that he had taken. I did not know the pictures existed. Uncle Bruce and I hope to catalogue and electronically preserve them for you and your children.

I'm not sure if my dad once believed that photography was his destiny. I do know he believed it saved his life during World War II. His platoon was lined up on a field, and an officer asked if anyone had photography experience. My dad raised his hand and was removed from his platoon to become an army photographer. Sadly, he said that everyone in his former platoon was killed during the war. I wonder if that's why he stopped pursuing his destiny -- if that's why we didn't know about the photographs in the basement.

Music, photography, art, writing. Ms. Angelene, whatever your destiny, you have creative genes.

Love, Your Grandma J

"I'm with the band."

Dear Angelene,

When I was a teenager, I always wanted to say "I'm with the band." I figured any girl who could say those words was popular and had a boyfriend. But the closest I came (and it wasn't very close) was going to the Cellar, a teenage nightclub in Arlington Heights, where I was both the secretary of the Shadows of Knight Fan Club and the hat-check girl. There weren't too many hats, but I also collected everyone's dollar as they came through the door.

But last night, at your mom's spectacular performance at the Congress Theater, I got to say those words, "I'm with the band." I arrived at the Congress early, could not stand too long in line waiting for the venue to open, and I said those magic words. They worked, I got in, and the experience was just as sweet as if it had happened 50 years ago.

Your mom's band, The Right Now, performed as the opening act for another band -- but everyone said The Right Now should have been the headliner. Your Grandpa Dave said "The Right Now owned the Congress Theater last night"! And I said that the band "conquered the Congress"! The Right Now was golden. It was quite a night.

The picture at the top of this post shows your mom on stage at the Congress last night wearing her beautiful Betsey Johnson dress with a purple tutu. There's also a picture of The Right Now poster, a portrait of your mom, and a shot of the entire band during the soundcheck.

After the concert, I felt high on the triumph of the band and the wonderful little family made up of your papa (my son), your mama (my daughter-in-law), and you (my Angelene). There's also your Grandpa Dave and Grandma Esa, your Uncle Bruce and Uncle Ryan, and me.

I'm with the band.

Love, Your Grandma J

Left Hand Turns

Dear Angelene,

My mother (your great-grandmother) would only make right turns when driving in the little town we lived in, Arlington Heights, Illinois. She was afraid to turn left in front of oncoming traffic. She could get all over town making right hand turns in her Buick -- but she never left the village boundaries when she was at the wheel.

I wrote a short story about this in college called "Left Hand Turn," so now you know what the title of this post means.

My intention in writing this "Dear Angelene" blog is to tell you things I would like you to know. You are not quite one year old, so you can't understand these things now. But maybe this blog will be here when you're old enough to find interest in these words.

For now, I just want to tell you to make peace with left hand turns so that you can face the oncoming traffic without fear. There's more I want to impart to you, but that's a good start for today.

Love, Your Grandma J