The Great Snow of 2014

Being retired from a score of different occupations (primarily due to age and unpleasant side effects of some medications), having no car of my own and just being too lazy to walk the four miles to the nearest Starbucks; I home most of the time.

The SWMBO works, she has a car, an ipad and a gang of computers in her office.  She calls me for the weather reports, “Is it snowing there?  My mother called and said it was really coming down.”

I glanced out the window, “There’s a light dusting, but its 24 degrees out.  Its OK.”  This was at 0945.

“Mom just called and they had 5″ of snow in Canton (12 miles away)”.  “Hon, get your mother a new ruler…its OK.”  1015

1215: “Mom says there’s a blizzard there and I should head home now.  What do you think?”

“I think your mother lives on another planet, but come home, the mail box has a white cap, but I can see the kids at the end of the street playing…no blizzard.”

At 1235 the SWBO departed here office; at exactly the same time that every school, office, government facility, grocery store and filling station sent all of their employees home.  Someone forgot to inform the DOT in and around the Atlanta area that there was a snow storm HAPPENING.

The SWMBO works 30 long miles from home; on the worst of days she arrives home an hour and a half after leaving the office parking lot.  That Tuesday afternoon she would shatter that record.

I could but stay by the phone and answer her calls, every 15 minutes (thank God for car chargers), the tone and the color of those escalated and  fell to deep lows…she was upset.

Between each call from the SWMBO there were for from the octogenarian mother…”Should I go and get her?…She may be stuck.”  “No, mom, I really don’t think going out for her would be the best idea, she’ll be fine.”

It was approaching 0125 when I heard the crunching of ice from the road in front of the house.  The street lamps and porch lights reflecting on the snow made colors and forms quite clear in the early morning hours and I saw quite clearly the SWMBO turning into the drive.  And slide side ways down the road to the bottom of the hill.  Even with windows closed tight I heard a familiar tone, normally reserved for discussions of my coffee spills on the stairs, her sweet language that would cause a tattooed biker to blush.

The cold night air carried the sound of an engine revving, the grinding of gears and the SWMBO shouting, “STAND AWAY FROM THE BATHROOM.” as she tacked the car into the drive.

She was but a blur as she entered the house, she mumbles still from behind the closed door.

I know this is going to become my fault.

Monday

Monday, the first day of my week.

Have you ever loved someone strongly/deeply and just as strongly really looked forward to their going to work/visit/vacaion…away.

Backstory.

When, 19 years ago (the SWMBO, 39 and me, 50) I married the SWMBO we were different people.

She had grown up with, and over the years closer to, her family (mom, dad, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, neices and Great-Grandpa/Grandma built a house, when Greandpa married, GGPa and GGMa, built him a house, next door (GGP and GGM could watch kids, train new wife) and everyone was happy.

When the time came, her Dad and Mom married, GP and GM built them a house, two blocks away (GGP and GGM had several children as did GGP and GGM’s brothers) and we had a village, a cohesive clan (an anthropologist’s dream).

I, I came from a rather dissimilar background. Leaving home at sixteen seemed quite all right, for all (my single greatest accomplishment in this life; I graduated from High School with my starting class). Ileft home, I didn’t leave town.

I enlisted at eighteen, I was Honorably Discharged at twenty-four, a father at twenty-five and I left home at twenty-eight. My son (not my, singular, accomplishment…rather the greatest gift the world has received in a very long time) and his mother thought that I ran away to “become” a hippie.

(A touch more backstory) In my early youth, I could be found in many “underground” establishments, coffeehouses, home of the beatniks, full of smoke (take your pick), many percussion instruments and questionable poetry. They were the “non-conservatists”. I later discovered the definition of the enemy, the “conservatists”: A conservatist is any individual that refuses to conform to the present standards of non-conservatism.

I never sought ‘hippiedom’, it was a convienient title that was besowed upon me. I was hoping to practice a ‘counter-cultureal’ movement…it wasn’t there. Peace, Love and Brotherhood, sadly replaced with Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll.

I encountered kids persueing the dream, an ideal they would never find with their ‘establishment’ (conservative) family, they would never understand. They would never understand.

And like a man glancing in a window, capturing a snapshot of the life on the other side, I saw others, older, with longer hair, brighter shirts of many patterns, head bands and beads, extending theirs hands, not to embrace but for the gelt…always the gelt.

Titles change, decades pass, the definitions are the same.

The SWMBO is upset that I have choosen to grow my hair long, once more. “You want to look like a ‘hippie’ again, don’t you. I want you to get a hair cut.” It’s winter and the hair keeps my ears arm…and to be honest, I ike the way I look with long hair.

“I’m planning a fishing trip, Cyd, fly fishing near Daloneagha…a few days, in March.”

“Good, we can visit Steve and Pat then go down to Daytona for the flea market…we haven’t been there in years…down on Friday, back on Sunday morning…it’ll be fun”

“Steve lives in ST. Augustine, way South, not North…I want to go alone and I don’t want to ‘shop’.” That conversation was five days ago, she hasn’t spoken to me since.

I love to fish, the SWMBO hates water, standing still by a body of water I have found oh so many things…Peace…in comes in many forms; silence, the lapping of waves, great and small, life all around, solitude…I have to laugh, solitude; if I’m lucky that will last for the briefest of time, a nano second in contemporary speach.

When you fish you watch the tip of your pole, the epicenter of your world, feel the flow of the river, the ocean ‘s tides, the way water always moves; watch the way light catches your line before it is lost in the flow. Connected in this way to a stream, river, lake or ocean no two alike, color, reflections of sun, stars or moon…all different and you’re connected and connected to everything around, above and below it.

I don’t always fish to catch, fish that is, I fish to get connected, to belong; the fish are a bonus.

At age sixty I was told I had cancer (I’m good, in remission), I went fishing, I need some Peace and I found the Holy Trinity. Only from a place of Peace do some things make sense. I like definitions and the thing I most enjoy really defies definition: Peace, but there were components of that elusive Peace that allowed me to understand what Love and Brotherhood really are.

Peace was found in solitude, being;  but not alone. I had looked in the Bible, The Koran, The Torah the teachings of Lord Buddha, interpretations of Kafka, in my youth and didn’t know what I was really looking for. I found it…in every one of those literary treasures.

The eleventh commandment sums it up nicely: Luke 13:34 I give you a new commandment, that you Love one another. (Jesus goes on to explain this further) Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” He broke bread with tax collecters and the one that would betray Him, He cured the deaf, the blind, the afflicted and the lame without checking their voter registraion or sexual orientation; He died for everyone.

Most people have access to a Bible and can check the reference, please do, please do. Then go fishing, or walk or watch the moon and the stars at night; do or go whatever or where ever you find Peace and just Love the brother or sister that’s holding the rod or filling the shoes that are walking as Jesus loved you, as Allah embraces you, El has taught you and all the teachings have lead you.

And smile.

Peace out. mw

Was there ever me?

The night,

bitter cold,

my breath, like brush strokes,

painting the moon lit sky.

Is it the cold or the solitude that cuts so deep?

Hands thrust into coat pockets,

collar pulled up against the wind,

a wind that covers the sounds of a man

weeping.

Tear filled eyes capturing

blurred images of a distant tree line,

hoping to see, someone…someone that knew

the me

a man of gentle madness and rage,

all those things

that make a person who they are

…a man both tempered and tarnished

through he years.

with heavy sigh,

the images clear,

the trees, the moon

and the solitary man…painting the sky.

Throw-Away People?

Not long ago I promised myself that I would be here daily…and I haven’t.  I have been running through the house(s)  (mine. the octogenarians and my neighbors’) looking for things to fix; preferably those things that seem beyond repair and things to sharpen (knives, tools, my wit).

In all honesty, I am a simpleton; there are a great number of things that I just don’t understand.  If I can’t wrap my tiny little mind around an idea/concept; I fix things.

A simple tinker I am.

Should the Truth behind the concept totally escape me, the more elaborate the tinkering; I’m trying to repair an antique wall clock (never done it before) and I’m sharpening every knife, wood plane and ax on the block.

Tinkering is my path to the Truth; a clock is running properly or its not; a knife will cut or it won’t…a concept has Truth or it doesn’t; the perfect world for a simpleton.

John J., one of the octogenarians, father to the SWMBO, suffers from vascular dementia (according to Marion J., not nearly as much as she does).  The nature of this affliction is such that he will reach plateaus and then declines with no chance for improvement.  John’s declines have been happening in rapid succession, effectively shrinking his world.

John also has an abdominal aneurism that is growing, growing to the point that it is becoming life threatening.  The repair is a simple, out-patient procedure.

Thus far I have had no problem, certainly nothing that would drive me to my wet stones.

John’s doctor, a more than competent vascular surgeon, has suggested that doing the procedure would be a waste of time, considering the rapidly advancing state of his dementia.  “He probably won’t live more than two maybe three years longer.” (Quoting the doc, not me).

John remembers every classmate he had from grade 4 through high school; he’s told me (more than twice) about his time in WWII as a parachute rigger, the flood in ’62 to that devastated his home town, his adventures with his Dad and Uncle Joe at the Russian Club in Seymore, CT.

We share war stories and I listen, he likes to talk; he loves music and he reads a lot.  Is he a perfect specimen? Hell no.  Is he alive, fully living? I don’t know.

Over dinner the SWMBO, the octogenarians and me discussed his upcoming procedure, “Why am I doing this?” He asked.

“So you don’t die, Dad”.

“Oh, good…I don’t want to die.”

I am an uneducated old man and I have made few, if any, contributions to peoplekind, I’ve never held any title of note; other than: simpleton and tinker.

I fix clocks, pots, vacuums and gnomes; I play in the dirt and enjoy the company of children and madmen; I speak softly and when I laugh it can be heard for miles.

The Truth is: I can’t, I won’t, throw away a toaster if I can brown one more piece of bread with it.  I can find NO Truth in judging a man unworthy to live.

I’ve heard John’s tales many times and I will hear them many more (God willing); I will listen and ask questions…if only because it gives him joy.  But, his two young great-grandsons must hear his stories, they are their history.

Well, I have four knives in front of me right now that require my attention…and I will try not to think of all the other doctors across the land, that hold the life of a man or woman that is too old, too feeble, too poor, too simple to own the days, the months, the years that are rightfully theirs.

I am far too simple to find the Truth in that.

A Soldier’s (My) Prayer

Cleaning out some dusty corners of an earlier life, some 45 years ago, captured in a few notebooks.

God be in my morning, and in my awakening.

God be in my head, and in my understanding.

God be in mine eyes, and in my looking.

God be in my mouth, and in my speaking.

God be in my heart, and in my thinking.

God be in mine end, and at my departing.