Hello…Good-bye…Later

For those that have not noticed, I have been away.  I was way down under, down under a large pile of covers.  This served a dual purpose; I was wonderfully warm and cozy and with the covers pulled over my head I was invisible (well it seemed to work when I was three).,

I was dragged from my hiding place kicking and screaming; “Mom is expecting us for breakfast, get dressed, you can have your coffee on the way.”

“Mom”, is Marion (Wicked Witch of the West, one of the octogenarian couple and mother to the SWMBO), Marion is suffering with cancer and is at present going through the first of four cycles of chemotherapy; I have assisted with her in-home care.

“John (elder brother to the SWMBO and present care giver to “Mom”).wants to have a talk.”

Family conversations, at least those within the SWMBO’s family, are not on my top ten best things; actually sitting in on one thiumeir conversations is like being a very special corner of Hell.

Dad (John senior, male component of the octogenarian couple) was at the kitchen staring at his empty coffee cup and trying desperetly to reach through the fog of his dementia and remember what he was going to do with this thing in his hand.  “Mom” was in her bed, sighing, afraid to get up, mentally reviewing her morning list of medications, “Cyndi”, she yelled down, “do I have any Imodium…I have to have Imodium, I’ve got diarrhea again.  Where’s my orange juice, can’t take my pills without my orange juice.”

John (the elder brother)sat in the blue wing-back chair tucked in the far corner of the living room, his face concealed  by the open book he held.

“How long has she had diarrhea, Johnnie?”

“Since Thursday.”  He turned a page.  “I’m leaving next Tuesday .”  His head turned slightly to his right as moved his gaze to the next page, he paused briefly and again, turned the page.

“Mom, and you making it to the bathroom alone?  Michael, make sure she’s cleaning herself.  Michael’s going to get you down for doughnuts.  When are you coming back ?”  The SWMBO was definitely in the house.

Never revealing his face, “Don’t know.”  Another page gone.

The SWMBO’s voice could be heard throughout the house, “John, come to the table for doughnuts.”

From his chair, eight feet away, “Don’t eat breakfast.”

“Are there any jelly doughnuts, I like jelly doughnuts.”  Dad looked from box to box opened on the table.

“Dad, you’ve eaten three jelly doughnuts already,” I said, “can I get you more coffee?”

“Three, are you sure?  They were really fresh.  Three?…Are there any jelly doughnuts, I like jelly doughnuts…when they’re fresh.  Are there any jelly doughnuts?”

On the ride home; “You’ll have to stay there through the week; I’ll come over on Saturdays and you can go home over the weekend.  You’ll have be back Sunday afternoon.  That should give you time to take care of our yard.  I think you know that the only way this is going to work is if they move in…its the only way we will be able to spend any time together…its the only way they can save any money…its the only way…and when I’m home, I can help you with them.   Oh, State Farm wants everyone in the Division to put in fourteen hours OT every month.  If you were still working I would be happy to retire and help more.”  The SWMBO was driving, nibbling on her fingernails, interrupted only by a need to adjust the temp control.

“…its the only way” was fading away as in my mind I pictured climbing under a large pile of blankets and once more becoming invisible.

 

 

Dear friends, with my new (insane) schedule and the duties involved, I will be restricted to writing one day a week.  I promise to share my meditations from the weed garden and observations and conversations with warriors of the finest ilk.

The NW Oncology Group, here in Kennesaw (GA), provides chemotherapy treatments for 60-75 victims of cancer daily.  Some, like Mom, once a week, others; every other week or so.  There are no masques there, no casts, they face a common foe, and…and there are no tears.

There are smiles, gregarious outbursts of affection, it is never quiet and there is much laughter.  I can not say I know the cause, I can only speculate at this point, but I hope to find out what it is that brings light and laughter into their lives and I promise I will share.

 

peace out, pilrims

 

Another Treasure From The Family Jewels

Many friends are confronted with things they don’t understand, don’t want to understand but they worry a lot.

My Grandfather (Grampy in this case Grampy Vogt) once found me hiding from something and asked if I was worried about it, “Yes.”

“Mikey” (there is only one other person that has called me that and lived), there are only two things to worry about: if you’re sick or if you’re well.

“If you’re well, you got nothin to worry about.  If you’re sick; you got just two things to worry about: you gonna get better or you’re gonna get worse.

“Now if you’re gonna get better, you got nothin to worry about.  If you’re gonna worse, you got two things to worry about.  Are you gonna live or are you gonna die.If you’re gonna live, you got nothin to worry about.  If you’re gonna die, you got two things to worry about; goin to  heaven or goin to hell.

“If you’re goin to heaven, you got nothin to worry about.  If you’re goin to hell, you’re gonna be to busy meeting the more interesting members of the family to worry.

“So, Mikey (same threat), you got nothin to worry about.”

 

peace out, pilgrim…be well and know that you are well loved.

Hell on Earth

All settled in with my B, PB, AB, AP sandwich (OK, that was tricky I know; Butter, Peanut Butter, Apple Butter, Apricot Preserves on multi-grain bread…vanilla bean ice cream on the side with dark French Roast coffee, freshly pressed); yesterday the 18 year old puppy got a glowing report from the vet after her annual check-up; the weed garden is starting to come alive, it is a great day…but…

I was thumbing through my book of questions:  How do you achieve world peace?, What must you learn from a blind, mute fool?  When does a person (it was originally written, “a man”, please forgive if I miss a word correction, I mean never to offend or in any way seem sexist, racist or any of the other “ists”) have all that they may have in this world and be in Hell?

This last question was one of the easiest to answer, I was 12.

A little history, when I lived with my grandparents, my mother’s parents, I was just past toddler, well into obnoxious and just shy of school; I lived with them during my second, third and fourth years.  Mom and Grampy were from well educated, in every sense talented, very strict German, Dutch, French stock.  The first book that Mom and I read together was “King Arthur and The Knights of The Round Table (there were no pictures).  The second book were addressed was “The Prince” by Machiavelli; Mom wanted to be sure I understood what was happening in the King Arthur piece (I was approaching four, like two weeks after my third birthday).

For my fourth birthday, Grampy (a man that had once had great wealth, he retained many fine things, but demonstrated his coping with poverty but slicing pot roast so thin you could read the news through it) gave me my first book; “Bulfinch’s Mythology” which I devoured.

The story may be Roman or Greek and as I remember it may not be word for word, but…I think you might understand what it says.

Vaicott (not the name in the original story, but will do) spent his best days mocking the gods, on his worst days he cursed them, he always denied them and would beat his servants for praying to them.

As age and illness attacked Vaicott dragging him closer and closer to his end he yelled to his children, his servants, to the world: “You see, pain and pox, age and anguish are all about me.  Should I throw pence or gold at statue or priest to have your gods heal me or am I fated like all to die and rot.”  Vaicott laughed, laughed his miserable chackle until he slept.

His children, his servants and indeed most of the world, with heads lowered walked away from his house.

When Vaicott awoke from his slumber he found himself in Paradise; the gods and goddesses greeted and embraced him.  They talked to a younger healthier man, a man that could drink in the beauty, the indescribable splendor that was this world.

He knew the embrace of a goddess, with passion…ecstasy beyond his wildest imaginings, he broke bread that the merest crumb would sate any hunger, wine that was indeed, ambrosia.

He looked up from the table a figure emerged from a splendid light, the figure became clear as all the lesser gods bowed and backed away.  Vaicott saw this god of gods extend his hand and place it on it on his shoulder, “Vaicott, you shall have anything you desire, wealth, health, any woman or man you desire, anything but death and not here.”

Vaicott awoke in his own bed, he was young, healthy, Kings and Princes bowed to him.  Praise seemed to come from swine, the finest food tasted like dung, nothing on this earth could give him pleasure; the gods had condemned him to Hell, Hell on earth.

 

I don’t know if I am spending a brief moment in Paradise, but my sandwich is, was terrific, coffee stimulating and this time we’ve spent together truly grand.

Never, never mock the gods they just may bless you…for a while.

Package Full of Memories

 

Today’s post contained a peace offering from my younger, shorter, smarter and angrier little sister.

Carefully wrapped in brown paper was an old cigar box; it once held 25 cent cigars, individually wrapped in cellophane, their foul aroma lingered, this had been Dad’s.

I opened the lid, held tight by a small, sharp now rusted nail.  Glued to the inside of the lid was a picture of a half-naked brunette, pornographic by 1959 standards, with braids, a head band, arms crossed to cover most of her ample breast and wearing a fringed loin cloth.  It was a copy of a Vargas painting that had been cut from one of Dad’s Playboy’s.

And there it was…my heart, the book of questions.  A small black book, 3” x 5” five ring binder and on every other page a question, questions asked by Grampy Vogt.  “You’ll have to give these some thought, Mikey.  When you answer some, they’ll make you smile, some you may want to share with the world and others…well, those will be the answers you will be looking for.

“There are sixty questions.”

The extent of my depression is such that there are unimaginable gaps in my life, some are over years and looking back over an emptiness like that; to keep from going totally mad, I fill the voids with stories, stories that are consistent with the scars that cover my body and my mind.

Holding this book in my hand; I remember that conversation as if it were this morning, “Grampy, what if I don’t know the answers…where will I find them?  Mom and Dad think I should have a Britannica for high school, will that help?  Do you want me to give you the book back when I’m done, and you can grade me?”

“You keep the book, and there will never be any grading, not between you and me.”

The first question:

How would you define eternity?

I don’t have to look at what I had written, I knew the answer.  I had used and abused this wording so many times, that it’s now etched in my brain.  I don’t know if I read this, someone may have offered a direction; but I was 15 when I first used this, in a love letter to a 14 year old girl describing how my love would endure.  I used it again when 17, sitting on a rock in front of Walter Colton Junior High, holding hands with Jeanette DeH.

Once, every thousand years, a crow is born on a windblown rock of an island off the coast of Ireland, this single crow is born with a destiny; it must fly to the moon and seek out a single mountain on the moon’s dark side.  This mountain dwarfs Mt. Everest and is a single piece of granite.

This crow flies to the top of this mount, unseen by any man in all of history and sharpens his beak and returns home.

When those crows have worn the mountain down to dust; that is passing of but a fraction of a second in eternity.

First Morn

There is something really magical about spring in this part of Georgia.  The horse ranches have been driven out of the state by developers, but there are still the sheep.

To get to the store from where I live I have to drive by a sheep farm, and this is the time of birthing.

The SWMBO may send me out for a pint of 1/2 and 1/2 and that might take an hour or so.  Its hard to dive past the field and not stop to watch 15 or so little white dots pop up over the tall grass and disappear again to emerge at some other spot.

This morning, close to the fence where I had parked in a spot sheltered from the noise of the road by a fallen sycamore tree; a ewe was birthing twins.

The first of the lambs, a glistening white when cleaned, was stretching and kicking in just a moment and soon on his/her feet and loving the cool spring morning.

The second lamb emerged and before the ewe could clean him/her off the older twin was butting him/her.

I was close enough that I could see the face of the newest child, the expression, “Really, now, I have had a hell of a morning already.”

peace out

Who/What Am I Today

The daily question: What am I going to do tomorrow.  How stupid is that?

0500, the SWMBO is showering, preparing for another day in the “orifice”.  The kids ; fed, moderately played with, walked and soon to be neglected for the balance of the day as I sneak away…to meditate…to meditate on the question: should I continue my studies to become a meditation instructor?  How stupid is that?

My turn to prepare for the outside world; the donning of the distractions; ornate rings on either hand (two for the right one for the left), several bracelets, leather and wood, outlandish socks, poly-chrome shoes, stylish cane and always a hat.  Always an odd old bird, but few see the tremors, the twisting and jerks, or so I like to think.  Like a four year old that makes himself invisible…by covering his eyes. How stupid is that?

This morning its take the octogenaria to the hospital, more tests…still no answers

I’ll wait ’til tomorrow to answer all my questions.  Really, just how stupid is that?

Illustration: Calligraphy-Zen Art by Qiao Sen

CalligImage

The Diamond In-The-Rough Family Jewel: Dad

Mallie Bleau Moore, Jr, Cdr. U.S.N. (ret.), (1919-1993)

There are so very many sides to this man, not all pleasant to look at.  He was undeniably…human and in many ways amazing.  I have five siblings, a fact he often bragged about; my three sisters and two younger brothers (one I met when he acted as ring bearer at Dad’s wedding…to his mother).

Dad had a habit of being out of the country when any of his children were born.  I started the tradition.  My mother and I lived with Mom and Grampy Vogt, in Scarsdale, which was to say, we were isolated from my of the world.

Dad was being transferred to Norfolk, VA after serving three years as part of the Occupation Forces in Japan, the most important thing was I was going to ride a train with my Dad.

Like most four year olds, I stood for the first few hours and demonstrating my rather precocious nature, I asked questions about everything.  Dad demonstrated his wisdom…he answered each and every one.

My first observation, upon seeing our Conductor (the first African American I had ever seen), “Daddy, look, there’s a chocolate man.”  To which he replied, “Yes sir, he’s chocolate, I’m vanilla, I’ve seen lemon men and even strawberry men.  All great flavors, just remember, son, they’re all men.”

I continued to pester him for another four hours.  Some how I knew that he had and would have marvelous gifts to share.Image