My father David Maurice, 2003-05-04
Hello, I am Celia Maurice and this is my sister Julia, from Paris.
Betty Gallagher just reminded me of yet another anecdote about my dad. We agreed that there were so many, it was hard to choose. So I am purposely not including the story of dad bringing home what he thought was a rabbit for a dinner party, but instead, when brought out to cook, was a human arm from the pathology lab. I even heard new stories last night from Jules Baum.
I wish I felt better prepared. I could have followed my father's lead. Before giving a speech, he would shut himself in a room, pace back and forth and conduct... as if he were conducting a piece of music. My mother told me that he would also take along, solitary walks on the heath. Of course his speeches were full of substance. Also this weather has quite reduced any brain power I may have had.
This feels rather like the parties my parents would give in London, I'd be asked to perform and then go around and say goodnight to everyone..., which I won't be doing here.
Our youngest sister Ruth, couldn't be here but wanted me to relay to you that she has fantastic memories of her visits to Sarasota. She was given full run of the hotel which was great fun until she was once locked out of her room for hours. She never found out who was responsible, possibly to protect them from my father's wrath.
I want to thank Stanley Chang, Mark Blumenkranz and Steve Klyce for putting on this event and making it possible for us to see people we haven't seen for many, many years. And Taka, a special and profound thank-you for sitting up with me during the last nights of my father's life. I really couldn't have stood it on my own.
It was difficult for me to know quite what to say to you all about my father. We all have great stories. Taka suggested that anecdotes would be the way to go, and I agree with him, but then couldn't whittle them down to just a few. Possibly a new link on the web page for the funny, naughty bits?
So, when reading Sai Mishima's account of his life with my father, it brought up a memory of a particular peculiarity that he had. A memory that I would like either corroborated, or in some way corrected. And Ralph, I am imagining that you may be able to help, since I have tied up this memory with the first time I met you, in what you used to call 'London- Town'.
I'm not sure if this is the norm, in scientific research, of doing experiments on one's self, but it is surely semi- illegal, at least these days, to experiment on ones progeny.
I was about seven years old. My father met me in the hallway of the Institute, after my return from the dentist, having sent me off several hours earlier with a timed self- dissolving phosphorus-green tablet in my mouth. It was timed to foam when I sat down in the dentists chair. Which it didn't. It started to foam and run out of my mouth as I was on the bus passing by the Royal Academy of Music. I arrived at the dentist a complete mess.
My dad met me as I got off the lift. He was pushing a two- tiered metal cart with a machine on top. A box with wires and cords, gauges, things that looked like tachometers. Attached to this was a string covered in clear plastic tubing, with a bit of the exposed string poking out the end. My father told me that he just wanted to touch the string to my eye, to 'measure' something. As soon as he touched my eye, I passed out.
I have been squeamish during eye exams ever since, but not sure if it just a physical reaction to having my cornea touched, or, Ralph, to your very non-English outfit of plaid Bermuda shorts and bright pink polo shirt, which were the last things I saw. Ralph, please back me up on this.
I miss my father terribly. Because of him we lived a charmed life. We were brought up to appreciate intelligence, wit, elegance, and brevity. Of those four qualities, I feel I can only measure up, in any way, by adhering to the latter.