life meets art in our recent family tragedy

General Discussion about Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung

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life meets art in our recent family tragedy

Post by alberich00 » Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:57 pm

Dear members of the Wagnerheim forum:

My brother David (aged 62) passed away instantly in my presence, evidently of an embolism, on Thursday night last week, after enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner with family members, just after he had finished showing my cousin, my mother, and I, his most recent digital photos of the natural wonders of my home state, Maryland (embracing Washington, DC). An unusual event occurred the following Saturday morning which I wish to record for its own sake, but also because of its association with the scene in Wagner's "Ring" which first attracted me to that great artwork when I was 18.

Saturday morning was quite bright and unusually warm for November. My mother was still getting up and, sadly, did not have the opportunity to experience this strange event. There is a semi-feral white cat, with a black tail, which haunts my neighborhood night and day, but which will never allow anyone to approach it, though we leave water for it on the front deck. This has been the case for the three years since I moved back to my original home in Annapolis, Maryland, after being forced to give up my home in Florida due to the recession. On this occasion, as I opened the front door to go out and get the newspaper, the cat was lying in our front yard under a bush, as if it had been waiting for me. And then, totally out of character, it ran up to the glass door (outside of our wooden front door), and climbed up to look in. This startled me, but since it seemed the cat wished to come in for the first time I opened the door and it came inside, purring and rubbing up against me. Then it ran into the kitchen and sniffed around precisely at the spot where my brother took his last breath. I am not given to fantasy, except in art and dreams, but this bizarre event deserves to be recorded. The cat then cuddled up against my leg one more time and then ran back to the front door, indicating it wished to leave. I don't know if or when it will return, but we haven't seen it since, even though it has made daily appearances on our front porch to drink water for years.

Wagnerians will recall that when Siegfried experiences the forest murmurs in "Siegfried" Act Two, and then hears the woodbird's call, he wonders if it might be telling him something about his mother. On several occasions Wagner stated that the Woodbird's call is indeed the voice of the mother who died giving Siegfried birth (though, as you'll find in my study of the "Ring," when Siegfried is finally able to understand what the Woodbird is saying, it's clear the three messages the Woodbird conveys to Siegfried are messages which, of all the characters in the "Ring," Wotan wished to convey to him.

My brother David left a wonderful legacy of digital photographs of natural and cultural wonders, many of them revealing aspects of nature generally hidden from the view of the many, things which can only be seen by going "off-trail" and looking very closely. His greatest legacy in this respect, perhaps, is his body of photographs of fungi, many of which are of unearthly beauty. Who would have thought that our humble state Maryland was so exotic!

David and I shared a deep love of folk and classical music, the outback, history (especially Maryland history), genealogy, and going "off-trail." If you would like to see samples of his work google David Heise Annapolis bottles plus flickr, and his site should come up.

Your friend from Wagnerheim,

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