Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Let's imagine you have a father. Shouldn't be hard for most of you, as you all did by requirement of nature. You did not really know your father that well, as fathers in the 50s and 60s were a bit "stand-offish" in the fathering department. Group participation in a sport or sporting outdoor activity was the interaction of the day. Not being a hunter, fisherman, or golfer would limit your relationship development. This describes my relationship with my father/dad. Most of my memories of my dad are of him leaving for work, golfing, fishing trip, or whatever; or coming home from said journey. Other memories are of him drinking himself into a stupor every night he was home and wondering how he would make it up the stairs to get into bed. We never had a conversation to speak of, and neither of us really knew how to get one started with the other. My dad was an amazing wit and bon vivant with the rest of the town, but with me - not so much. I left my home town of Raeford, N.C. well before he gave up the bottle. So, my reflections and memories of him are vastly different than most of the other members of my family and his friends and acquaintances. Neither here nor there, just is. I was lucky enough to get to know my Dad a bit when he became ill late in his life. The ravages of a southern diet, Camel non-filter cigarettes, and enough alcohol and to preserve a herd of wildebeest finally took their toll. He was in a wheelchair for the last year or so of his life and I tried to be there for him when I could to do whatever. I built his first ramp to get him into the house when he got home from his amputation and recovery. I helped get him out to see the world for the first time in six months or so with a car ride or two. And, I would go down to cut his hair on occasion along with other simple little things that seemed to take the place of meaningful conversation. My family was not and is not one of any great means. My dad's will was a short and sweet document leaving his worldly possession to my mother (rightly so). He did give something personal, and of value to each of his four children. My one personal item was his Colt M1911 U.S. Army service pistol. As I stated above, I am not a sportsman. I am not a gun person per se. I have hunted, I have shot guns of most normal sizes and calibers. I did not own a gun at the time, but was very excited about the prospect of owning my father's service weapon. As my mother was going through a lot at the time and I had my own personal tribulations starting (see other blogs for that - my wife has health issues) I just told my mother to keep the pistol and I would get it later. Imagine my surprise when I found out later that the gun was gone! I am still not quite sure who, where, and what happened. Some unspecific statement about it being sold by someone. The only thing I was left by my father to me personally in his will was somehow disposed of to someone I don't know for some unknown reason. Now I am not one to beat a dead horse (although I have been know to give one a last shot to see if it has life), so I will let this go now. But I still cannot believe it. That weapon was and is a collectors item. It has a value of thousands. It has an attachment with my father that is invaluable. But, the horse is no longer breathing. I hope I am purged.
Imagine you and your spouse, or significant other, are on a nice boat ride called life. You are on this inconceivably large boat in a sea of unimaginable size on a trip of indeterminate length. Once in a while, you go through some beautiful. almost indescribable days where birds sing, wonderful angelic music accompanies you in your daily activities, and everything you want is there before you. Then there are the dark and stormy days where all you can do is hold on to the rail and upchuck your lunch into the water. Most of the days, however, are just a boat ride. One day your spouse falls overboard, fully clothed, and for no apparent reason. You quickly toss them a line, and say"hold on, I'll get you out!" There is no reason to panic, people fall into the water all the time. Plus, they are a fairly strong swimmer, we will get them out. So, you start pulling on the rope. After pulling and pulling you notice they are not any closer to the boat. You decide you need help. You go and get the some of the lifeguards that are stationed around the boat. One by one they examine the situation. All of them, after careful thought and deep reflection based on years of training, say "They are in the water. They will surely drown. All we can do is keep them on the line from the boat, and wait." You become more and more agitated and upset. You go and get one lifeguard after another. Some haven't got a clue. All the rest just say, "At some unpredictable time in the future they will drown. Keep them nourished, provide fresh water, and here is a wonder drug in case they get cramps." You consider going into the water yourself. However, there is no good way to get in, and definitely no way out. So, you sit by the rail and talk to your loved one about the good days where the birds sang, angelic music accompanied you, and all was before you. Meanwhile, it becomes harder and harder for your spouse to keep their head above the water. One of your greatest fears is a storm coming up and causing waves that they surely could not ride out. More and more time is spent just working to keep their head above the water. Meanwhile, you can only sit and watch. Enjoy your cruise.