Getting along with women,
Knocking around with men,
Having more credit than money,
Thus one goes through the world.
A year ago on May 16th my life took an unexpected swerve that rolled into an equally unlikely rebound, out to Ohio to live in a ready made family with a kind and patient woman. It was my dad's birthday, he would have been 92; his bedtime when above ground was 10pm on the dot,and that night at that time I was standing in the rain watching myself get burned out of a very comfortable if not terribly active life. The second floor windows exploded and flame licked the night for awhile and then subsided. Firemen soaked the aggrieved wood.
I speculated on the coincidence of his birthday marking such an important watershed. I fancied Dad burned me down to get me out of that comfortable little life in one room in a two room apartment with another fellow---a certain 'Sarge'---who also preferred to stay in his room to pass his days.
""No good, Jim. You don't belong there. Get out. Get on with it , would you, for Christ's sake,"I can visualize him saying in quiet exasperated but loyal communication with his smoking buddy, on one of our smoke breaks where we speak intermittently , mostly standing tall and strong and confident next to each other in the night in the stillest silence of sound and soul that could be conceived. A 'pow wow', Mom called it.
Sometimes we discussed just what was eating Mom. "Have you noticed, she is getting worse,''Dad would say in mournful tone over some insult he had to bear...I couldn't decide usually whether to laugh or to sigh, knowing he is the one pouring the endless glasses of wine that fill her mornings, afternoons, and evenings. Dad was stuck,and he was bummed, and feeling less significant by the day, fading away in his mind, and drinking centered him briefly back in the to the hero of his youthful imaginings of himself. Made him feel "I did my best". Dad liked Mom to drink with him because what fun is it drinking alone? Once I turned 16 Dad let me join the festivities, affording me a 'happy hour' between 10 pm (when he went to bed) to 1 or 2 in the a.m., hanging out in the den trying to find that center of myself with my three (no more than that) beers I sipped and buzzed out on. We were all complicit in keeping the ambrosia coming. It was our only comfort, in the ruins of our suburban paradise at the end of a cul de sac bordering a woods, truly the house at the end of the world. An antique mantel clock from Germany ticked off the moments of our morose holding pattern...flying as long as we could til gravity took over and pulled us back to the earth in disease or death. We dodged gravity for a good long vacant persistence in what we were used to. I began to have prophetic flashes of life away from that house when my protectors ran out of time or energy or will. They were vague and sinsister. I held on til the bitterest end, keeping my father alive in a rehab center, living a fantastic demented vision of sharing his house with nurses and orderlies and strange old women in the room across the hall, in '' the kitchen...''
Maintaining my house. As my siblings stripped away the furnishings of the only life I ever knew. Pulled the rug out from under me, literally, to get at that long forgotten hard wood flooring.
Well, same thing happened on Dad's birthday last year. Divested of my surroundings.
And I am ended up here, on May 16 2015 in Margaret's mom's garage reading my books with new eyes, eyes that can look straight into the sun and find small miracles of grace and beauty in every little circumstance, sometimes. A lot lately , too. It is not yet a constant vision, but it is returning faithfully almost daily.
It is like the pure thrown-there-ness- for perpetuity of my father, who suffered it in faith of something happening, something good. Maybe he still feels the same way, and being dead has magnificently integrative powers of discernment of what is best for me, and the still viable will to influence or gently, gently guide it to happen.
I am having a smoke break in my garage, standing in the late evening rain. Still, at peace, and with faith.