imagine what's going through the little guy's mind in this shot I got at my coffee hang out yesterday afternoon. The big guy is Angus, a mastiff, who is an absolute door mat when it comes to small dogs. His admirer on the right is Pugsley, apparently a cross between a flea and a gnat. Click on picture for a full size image.
I chatted with my good good friend Alain late yesterday and after I told him about my mother's passing he just happened to have this poem at hand.
"If I die before you
which is all but certain
then in the moment
before you will see me
become someone dead
in a transformation
as quick as a shooting star's
I will cross over into you
and ask you to carry
not only your own memories
but mine too until you
too lie down and erase us
both together into oblivion."
My father died when I was eight years
old. Fifty-four years later my mother’s heart stopped. That was Friday night at
about 6:30. She lived with my sister down in Birmingham, Alabama but has been
in a nursing home for the past 6 months in what was a nearly vegetative state I
think. Try as I may all those memories that I feel obligated to have at a time
like this just won’t come…the cookie baking, the Halloween costume making , the
warm motherly moments like when I had the flu or a cold etc. My mom wasn’t a
bad person or an inadequate mother or anything like that. I know there must
have been times like that. It's just that in my memories of my childhood we
were never a particularly close or demonstrative family. That now comes back to
haunt me and a better writer than I could probably turn this into something
vaguely Shakespearean….”The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
None of those moments present
themselves right now and I think I feel almost as badly about that as I do
about her passing. It seems one is obligated to have those warm and fuzzy
thoughts about one’s family at a time like this, should feel a more piquant
sense of loss. I suppose that’s just one more little hash mark on the guilt
side of the ledger for me.
I am now the eldest in our immediate family and I can’t help wondering if that
means that I am next. Will my children and grandchildren have the same feelings
of insufficiently defined loss that I have? Will they have to struggle for the
good memories? If I can offer anything of any earthly use to anyone else at
this time it’s the same question…will yours?
mornings I stop off at a place called Hyperion Espresso for coffee on my way to work. As I drive up
Princess Anne Street from Route 1, I see pretty much the same scenes every day.
Someone is always coming out of or going into the 2400 Diner and at Little Tire
they have the first couple of cars up on the lifts while one of the guys is
usually outside with a clipboard talking to the next customer about whatever
repair is needed.
bit farther up the street several people looking for day work are waiting
outside Labor Finders and then there are the two little kids who live next door
running around the side walk on their Big Wheels. There's a young lady who
walks her dog about the time I am going by.
then there are the homeless or nearly so, at least that's what I am presuming.
They appear to be starting a daily routine of heading towards downtown as well.
There is one man whose stolid face seems not even to register his surroundings
and I know he will shortly round the corner from Princess Anne onto William
Street and with a practiced glance check the ash trays and plastic bucket
outside the Hyperion entrance for discarded smokes. Sometimes he finds one and
sometimes a sidewalk samaritan will hold out one or two or three cigarettes to
him as he walks by their table. He'll reach out and take the proffered gift
without breaking stride and with the slightest of nods to acknowledge the
of the things that puzzles me about this man and his compatriots is their
faces. They always seem expressionless and I wonder if there is any hope behind
the masks they wear and if there is, hope for what. Is it for a quickly found
cigarette, a meal, a little relief from the heat, what?
has to be there somewhere doesn't it? After all they are human beings and
that's one of the things that sets us aside from other creatures. I keep
telling myself that at least they have that; they have hope.
Day, in case you missed it. Both of my young'uns came to visit along with the grand young'uns. We went to the "fimmin pool" and had a grand time with a cook-out (hot dogs on the grill, three kinds of mustard, potato salad and watermelon) and the weather was just what perfect summer Sunday afternoon weather is supposed to be. We had to drag both of the little ones out of the pool to make them eat but by the time we got to the really nice watermelon Wendy brought they were seriously conflicted over water vs watermelon.
The kiddie pool was beneath notice to Rachael (nearly 6) and Abbie (2). Both of them got themselves in over their heads in the shallow end of the big pool and had to be snatched out by adult hands Both came up spluttering but more surprised than upset. After clearing her eyes, Abbie, the youngest at a bit over two, immediately proclaimed to all interested by-standers that, "Abbie fimmin, Abbie fimmin!"
It was great having them all here and it was a great time in a quiet Southern small town way and then Gwampa needed a serious nap...
...the details I think, when it comes to discussing opposing points of view on religion or the issues of the day. Listening to the other guy seems to have become a lost art except for the need to identify when it is your turn to talk by the silence coming from the other side of the table. Even less often do you hear one person ask the other to "Tell me more about that." Constructive dialogue seems to have given way to a kind of rhetorical ping-pong where each party looks for the killing shot, the slam that shuts the guy across the table down.
The next time you are in a discussion like this, ask to hear more. And while we're at it, tell me more about your point of view on this....