Humor

The God Principle

To please my 87-year -old church-going mother, I went to church with her this morning.    She’s Methodist.    I was raised Catholic, something she had to do….she upon marrying her Catholic  husband, she had to sign a piece of paper m relinquishing the religious indoctrination of her three daughters in an era that was pre-Vatican 2.     We would be raised Catholic, but Catholic-light.  We’d go to mass every Sunday,  but we were a bit cavalier about it.    Daddy wasn’t that devout and mother poo-pood Catholic dogma.  So, in order to try to introduce a little Jesus into my life as opposed to learning about growing up and marrying a nice Catholic boy and bringing into the world more Catholics, I’d go to all these Methodist and Presbyterian events.   I get confused sometimes and boy, would these punchy protestants  give me hell if I’d innocently forget where I was and instinctively cross myself after one of their prayers.

I haven’t been to Mass in I don’t know how long, but recent enough to still see the differences.   There were still no calisthenics…..no kneeling, standing, sitting.     At this service, we sat mostly and sang hymns that I’d heard played at the funerals of Protestant relatives.    I didn’t hear any kind of homily, sermon…..just songs.     As in song, after song that I didn’t know.

Jesus was mentioned in said , but they all struck me as odd.    It was if the ubiquitous  “they” were really trying hammer home ( pun intended) Jesus’ death  and how God sacrificed ‘his son’ for our sins.   I listened to discordant lyrics about glorifying dying, blood, slow painful deaths on old rugged crosses,  more dying and  being forsaken by Daddy one minute, then asking that HE forgive them (the Roman soldiers, I suppose) for not knowing what they’re doing.

So, here’s my question: was Jesus in on all this or not?

Isn’t it odd that an unseen force that spoke to Abraham and Moses and smited with alarming frequency and  also who gave Noah a crash course in animal husbandry, sacrificed his “human” son who was just a regular Yossef, perusing the towns and villages of Zion while performing miracles.   Yet the Son died, knowing he would die, knowing one of his disciples would betray him due and he also knew that for a  lack of a better word, he’d reanimate after three days and no one would ever see him again except in every Catholic church, on the occasional piece of toast…in an oil spill at a machine shop or in a tree or tortilla.

Believers say there’s evidence of Jesus’ existence in every one, in everything.   Ok.   That’s Christianity, but what’s with the Trinity?    The Father, Son and The Holy Ghost?     It’s almost like Christianity is this convoluted  Rube Goldberg -like contraption.     One begat one, but you can’t get into Heaven without believing in the other and the Holy Ghost or Spirit which seemingly gets little to no ink in Christianity, is what—–the glue that holds this trifecta together???

My mother is very Methodist.  It’s like she’s placed herself in a safe little Methodist bubble as if nothing can happen  to her as long as she’s in the company or dealing with other Methodists—-from  car dealers, attorneys, CPA’s, to boutique owners.   She wisely allows for a Jewish allowance when it comes to doctors and health specialists.

Meanwhile, back at the Methodist sing a long, these people seemed so content to belt these terribly gory songs. I just shook my head and listened to songs about happy lepers and who were blind but could see after being such a  wretch, but now  can noe see.

I don’t know what I believe.     It’s not a being, an entity, but it seems to be more like force–a very, very strong energy.    It smarter than me, bigger than me, knows me well enough to have a response to every question.    I pray for a handsome husband and a million bucks.    He’s God, not a miracle worker, but it is indeed a higher power?      I feel certain that  I’ve felt evidence of it.    Or maybe luck is God.  And coincidence is God.   Failure, success, heartache, fleeting joy, physical pain, neurosis, staph infections, katydids and eyelashes are all God.

But then there’s Jesus.    And his governance and force in your life, versus blaming him because for bad things because of free will.  Are Calvin and pre-determination  are wrong.?     Or are our Presbyterian friends right and free will  simply can’t be.

My father is a rather  hostile born againer.  . He’s born again and has involved himself in the Pentecostal mindset.    I can’t even address that entire issue properly mainly because the question  mark over head is so large my large it casts the shadow over my iPad.    So enough on that.

God came easy to me.    Jesus didn’t….not even as a kid.   Too much magic.  It didn’t fly with the Catholic version which came with guilt nor did the Methodist version which was frequently accompanied  by a covered dish casserole. .

I believe in something, but what?   And if I believe in something, what does make me?  Does it even have a name?   I know it’s  not an alien, or a cloud formation.    The Pope and I aren’t close, I think I’d scare a rabbi and an Imam would do run to the  arms of the nearest Jew.   Buddhists.   Nah, arthritic knee.  Too much climbing.  Wiccans?   Not enough appreciation for trees.

I don’t know.

More to be examined, debated, deliberated later.  Thanks for any input.   And please no proselytizing or judgy name calling.     Have an opinion or have none at all, but please be respectful.    You wouldn’t want to be  smited, would you?

I have an app for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About God

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Who, what, where is God?    Do you believe he’s the long, white-haired, Chuck Heston looking guy Michaelangelo  painted?    Or do you believe without the need for any kind of personification?

If you believe, what is God to you and why?     And must you attend church in order to be completely square the Big Guy….or Big Gal upstairs?

If you don’t believe, why?     Would you consider yourself an agnostic with doubts or are yiunan atheist certain there’s no divine force playing  chess with our lives?

Fear not, you won’t be judged.  There are no wrong answers.    I only ask because there have been a lot of trials in my life this past year  and during a nightly swim under the lilac skies of the Hill Country at twilight, I thought about my ever evolving concept of God  and wondered are we being punished when life is difficult or rewarded when things go smoothly.

Your  thoughts, please.

 

 

 

My Dilemma

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I’ve not been around much lately, not that the few readers I have left would notice, but it’s been a crazy month.   I bought a new house  and I’m also in the process of prepping my old one for sale.   All it needs is a good cleaning and the waiting begins.

Cleaning…key word here .  Therein lies my dilemma.

I like art.  The real stuff, the kitschy stuff.    Expensive works  and five dollar posters in expensive frames.    And that goes for objects d’art, too.     My style is very eclectic and somehow, it all works.      So when I started packing, I noticed several damaged pieces.   For example, two sizeable chips in a Baccarat crystal oblisk.     I don’t include the brand name to brag or be pretentious,, but merely to prove the value of the kind of things I’m finding damaged.   There were other items too…to many to include here, but all damage was at the hands of a human.   Most of the things were too heavy for my dog or cats to have caused and in some cases I’d find shards of the broken item neatly piled behind it in an attempt to hide it.      I adore my furry children and I’m certain they could be members of animal Mensa if one existed,  even if their little brains could conceive the idea which is absurd even for me to contemplate, it’s impossible for two paws with dew claws to, pile shards of broken crystal or porcelain, then try to hide it behind the broken object.

I didn’t have many guests over  at my other home, so for many weeks on end, I was there all the time and my housekeeper was there once a week.    Just the two of us.   And I  assure you, I wasn’t passing time juggling Baccarat oblisk.

So, I met family for lunch today and when I got home, I found a rare, delicate shell on a crystal base, broken with pieces of the shell shoved inside what was left of the shell.  It was stunning at one time, and yeah, a bit pricey.

I placed it earlier this week, on the bathroom counter in all its loveliness and my housekeeper came Wednesday and she’s the only other person who’s been in my home in a week.

She only speaks Spanish and is semi-literate.    But my Spanish….especially after a couple of drinks is very good, so “the” conversation began.     I told her I was going to ask her a very serious question and that her answer had to be honest.    I tried to explain to her that response could  be a career decision.    Hard to translate that.  Anyway,  she denied everything at first, then I started citing specific examples  and she hemmed and hawed then finally confessed and said yes, she’d damaged things.

I asked her why she didn’t tell me.     She said was scared to tell me because she knew what she broke was expensive.   I then asked her how she could, in all good consciousness, break valuable things, my things, things that I worked long and hard to buy, things that meant something to me, yet not say a word and take home a paycheck?

She said because she wanted the money.    I blew up.   The top of my head is imbedded in an 18 foot ceiling.    Damn, now I gotta hire someone new to clean that.   But seriously, I was livid.

Now, I will admit, I paid her very well, treated her like a queen.   Remnants of Liberal guilt perhaps.    I gave her new clothes, a designer bag….TV, a clothes dryer, jewelry for Christmas.   I’ve helped members of her family and friends and acquaintances…..all undocumented, but kids were involved and well, I couldn’t help BUT help and the help they needed was immediate and they literally didn’t have the time to wait for illegal alien bureaucratic assistance.

Her last words to me that no matter how or why this went down, it was worse for her because she “needed the money” and I was lucky because ” I have money”.

Hhhhhmmmmm….I don’t remember hiring Bernie Sanders.

Her audacity was appalling.   Fucking entitlement and what’s worse, I was responsible for creating most of it.   When will we realize as a society that  giving away too much in in order to be kind, to right a wrong or assuage one’s guilt, negates the positives of working.   The integrity one receives  from earning power.   I was livid, hurt, felt used,  deceived and like an idiot.    I had the responsibility and the right to terminate her, yet felt the conflict  of how that would  affect her familial income.    Then, I allowed myself to see the reality once again: she’d been terribly dishonest to me…..repeatedly…..and for all the wrong reasons.

What was left of my cranium bounced off a soon to be replaced ugly ass rustic ceiling fan.

Another troubling factoid—this woman is completely sucked in by the Hispanic division  of a well-known company that sells everything from soap to make-up to plows.   It’s also a well known scam and a pyramid scheme  that’s somehow allowed to remain in operation.   She would  mop with a headset on listening to their tripe, learning their mindset:   how to sell and make money and be liberated from debt and heartache on their terms,     I heard a little of the schpiel and I swear it was nothing short of  a Spanish version of  “Arbeit  macht frei”, a German phrase meaning “work sets you free”.    The slogan is known for appearing on the entrance of Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps.   And she believes this crap,  hook, line and el sinker.

So, with this in mind and knowing she lied to me and basically  stole from me, I told her I should take her to court  to recover losses, but that I wouldn’t because her obvious ignorance about everything was punishment enough.

We started texting by then and I stared at that particulars  sentence for a while.  Initially, and felt it to be almost cruel, but I guess I didn’t feel that bad about it.   CLICK.   It was sent.   I don’t feel bad about it, mainly because it’s true.   Not because she’s Hispanic—or semi literate….don’t even start that crap.   It’s because she’s ignorant of correct human behavior and decency.     She was ignorant,  by choice perhaps, of the repercussions of knowingly destroying  property and lying about it, because it would affect her bottom line.      She seemed to be so sweet and  kind, but she wasn’t .   Nor was she trustworthy  or honest  and then had this shocking resentful attitude at being caught.      She saw nothing wrong in breaking things, hiding them, not disclosing her sctuins — even if by accident, and taking a paycheck.    No guilt,  no remorse…only when she got caught and only then after forcing her to face her mistakes.    She obviously missed this company’s mandatory lectures on integrity.   Apparently, you need to pay for courses on how to think like this company needs  you to think.   She showed me a brochure once.   All I could think of was Jim Jones and his Guyana cyanide-laced KoolAid death fest.

Lemmings.

She isn’t a dumb woman, but clearly, not very bright either, not in this sense.

Finally, she managed to eek  out a single gracias which read as if it took great effort and with that, our three- year relationship ended.   She’s now free to peddle her fake wears and mindset to other gullible people who like her, only care about not giving a damn about anyone but themselves.

So here I am,  two weeks into a house that was/is rife with problems….now this.  I’m rapidly losing faith in my fellow man, my ability to trust people and doubting my own judgement.    I’m combatting my own idiocy daily.     THAT’S my real dilemma.

Ah well.    Just another costly, costly life lesson learned while permanently enrolled at the University of Laurieland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m No Feminist, Nor Am I A Mom

Now, don’t get me wrong—I like most women.    We’re tough, strong  and often smarter than the Penis  People.    There are many, many women I respect whole-heartedly.      And yes, there are some women I wouldn’t even spit on.    That’s just the way it is.    Some people we click with,  others we don’t and can’t and never will.     But that’s human nature.

I had a stable first ten -12 years of life.    After that, the family dynamic changed irrevocably and I kind of raised myself.      Little guidance, little help and eventually I was basically told to leave the last few twigs  that comprised our nest, and go find my life.

I went to college, got job….learned  how to be an adult—–a very young immature, inexperienced adult.     I planned, I plotted, I schemed and succeeded and failed….repeatedly….and ultimately, got my college degree and my womanhood.      The rest of my life to this point was all about career which ebbed and flowed , not unlike life.

And well, I’ll  admit it once again,.. I made horrific choices in men.    But I learned something from each sociopath.   They are crazy, manipulative people indeed, but fairly decent life teachers as long as you understand who and what you’re dealing with.

But you grow with every success and failure.    And you learn to survive heartache and you learn  how to survive survival.    Some join groups and clubs and participate in women’s  marches. There is strength in numbers, but what you learn on your own, by yourself as your own woman, as your own person, are tremendous lessons.    That’s why I’ve never been too keen on groups, especially any group  with  “stands with whatever”‘in its title.       It’s fine for you…. It’s  just I’m just not much of a joiner.  I like  boots on the ground.  And writing a check works too but for me there’s more to it than fancy galas.  That’s just not my style.     But to be honest,  I’d I prefer a fundraising ball as opposed to distorted  meetings and  angry attention seeking women, screaming vulgarities into a microphone.     I don’t care to hear any more about what I’ve  already learned.    I don’t need to hear someone reading a bullet point list of someone else’s experiences.

No thank you.

And if I had ever had a daughter, I would teach her  those things first.      Namely, the value of her independence.

I’d teach her this, even before toddling,    I’d show her how to stand “with” no one….just for herself.   I would teach her strength and resolve and how to defend herself in any situation:    against  bullies, predators, disrespectful, and cruel adults….teachers, even.     Not all adults deserve respect.    I won’t  beatify an asshole just because he died.  And  just because someone has endured enough  decades to amass a few gray hairs but did so as a total conniving bitch, I can’t respect  and I would teach that to any child of mine.   “Be civil”, I’d tell her, but I’d also ask her to understand the flaws in every human.    That will help in the inevitable fights with friends, and all these  ridiculous bully issues I keep hearing about.      I would want her to know and be upfront about the real evils in the world and that fairy tales often end in tears.    Happy endings exist only in Mother Goose stories and Asian massage parlors.

But for my daughter, because the labrynth of life would be different for her as a woman, , I’d teach her all she needed to know and then set her free to determine who she was, what she was….why she was the way she was, Gay….straight…..artist or capitalist personified. I’d still love her if she became a Democrat and elected to go to Texas A&M.  (Note to self: if this should have ever happened, the will would’ve been rewritten.)

I would want my daughter to be herself, whatever that is. I want her to try ….and if she can’t do something’  accept it and find another thing to attempt.   .    Play with dolls and Tonka trucks, mix her gender metaphors and I wouldn’t allow her to feel wrong for merely playing with both.     Playing is how we learn.

I would lead, but only long enough to teach her how to walk, not necessarily too show her how to follow.    Unlike some moms I know, I wouldn’t thrust my moral compass down her throat. I’d present my values and mores, based on what I’ve  learned and place them on a platter of sorts…..no, actually, it’d be more like a menu from a Chinese restaurant; she could choose all she wants  from column A and Column B or even order a la cart.    I would give birth to her, but she would create herself.       I’d be there with a brushstroke or two, but she’d apply the colors she chooses., the ones that would make her, her.

I’d encourage her to have many relationships plutonic and otherwise and for those that might be leaning a bit serious, I’d urge her to like this person first.     Liking  before loving is great.   Fall in love with your friend.   It’s important.    I’d encourage her to do things…travel…learn a foreign language or two and understand that her principle  role in this life is to help whoever, whenever in whatever way she can.     I’d tell  her to be ok with being alone and that being alone won’t always mean being lonely.

I’d want her to wrap her head around pain.   She’s going to feel if from skinned knees to not making cheerleader to a broken heart after a love gone wrong.    But she has to experience these things and also learn to rebound from them.  I’dvwant her to be fluent in kindness, nobility, integrity and equality.     Unlike me, Shevardnadze would be able to love freely and with she would have  been spared the scars I have.   She would be able to see and feel  beauty where I can’t.       Or won’t.

At least, that would have been my hope for her.

And had I lived a normal life and given birth to this child, I think I would feel in my soul when it would be time for her  to move out, move on  and  I would let her go.   The urge to put training wheels on her adulthood would be strong, but I ‘d be even stronger–I’d refrain.    But I’d constantly remind her of certain things as she packed.   I’d go all Aibileen from the movie, The Help on her.   I’d tell her to always remember—

.”You is kind. You is smart. You is important”…..

And as I watch her leave, I’d  tell her what I was never told; that I loved her….always….and that disappointments are unavoidable facts of life…..but disappointment would never, could never  negate my love for her.  And she would know this love while awake, asleep, studying, partying, having breakfast….throwing up after the kegger the night before.    That would teach her that sometimes there’s a price to be paid for having fun.     But fortunately, hangovers  run their course and parties are held frequently .  I want her to mature, but she must have fun in the process.  I don’t want her to curl up in a ball and wake up at age 56 and realize she’s never fully lived her life.    I’d dare her to find joy; take chances and try new people, places and things.

So, when the time would come when  she’d walk out the door and I’ve wave goodbye, with a lump in my throat….and silently,  I’d wish her the best, pray for her growth, and that she’d be safe, healthy and happy and make sound choices.

Then, I’d probably make myself a big ol’ drink and hook up with someone on Tinder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Father’s Day

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I dread this particular 24 hour span. I’ve never had a great relationship with my dad and this Father’s Day will mark almost six years since I last laid eyes on him.

My brother has been insisting for months now, that more than enough time has passed and that I and I alone will have to make the effort to “break the silence”. I respond to his haranguing by telling him, “Why bother? I don’t have a father”.

I’ve felt that way for years.

I woke up at 3:15 that morning after fitful night’s sleep. I tossed, I turned; my mind spun like a Roulette Wheel. Millions of normal, emotionally healthy people would be spending this day with their fathers. Could I do the same? And really, what would it hurt to visit my dad? It would be easy enough to make the effort to visit with the man who, as my mother always said, “was merely present for my conception”. That’s the role he always played; a part well cast by her rage and his bitterness.

Besides, I needed reconciliation.

I made the long drive to the country. It was pleasant—more so than I remembered. Daddy always liked it here. He spoke about it all the time. When he was younger, he loved being outdoors, especially in this part of South Texas. I also spent some time here growing up. Michael and I loved playing in the barn and swimming in the river. I’d have to agree with my father; there was something about this land. Gently rolling hills; rich farm land as far as the eye could see. Pine and Mesquite trees dotted the landscape. It was nice. Quiet. Peaceful. I was stressing over having to visit my father, but the sheer tranquility of the countryside was having an amazing effect on me. I was starting to relax.

I drove up to the gate which leads to his property. I remembered it being larger for some reason. It was locked, as usual, but Dad always said we should come right in. The combination was easy to remember…. it was Michael’s birthday. Never underestimate the relationship between a father and his only son. I got back in the car and drove over the iron cattle guard; it had a jarring effect on my car. I’d forgotten how that felt.

Memories.

I parked the car, grabbed my things which were on the seat beside me and exited the car. I walked over to him. Would he recognize me? Would he know I’d even stopped by?

I started the conversation immediately.

” Hi Daddy. I know it’s been a while since I was last here to see you. I guess an apology is in order, but things have been crazy at home.”

I was talking fast, hoping to avoid any awkward silence.

“You remember Robert, don’t you? Well, he was just promoted to partner in his firm and the kids are growing like weeds.”

I reached for my purse; I was going to show him pictures, but thought against it. He was never close to his grandchildren.

“Teddy reminds me of you, Daddy. He has your hazel eyes and your love of fishing. In fact, he and Robert went out in the Gulf a few weeks ago and they caught seven huge Red Snapper. And Kate is my baby. You last saw her when she was five. Well, believe it or not, she’ll be 12 in October and in seventh grade next year. Daddy, she’s so pretty and so smart. She made all “A’s” last semester. Sometimes, I wonder if she’s really my daughter!”

I chuckled.

Silence.

The wind blew my hair in my face. I brushed it away and continued to plow through our conversation.

“I suppose you’re wondering why I’m here today after all these years. Well, it’s Father’s Day and I felt I should be here. I felt that I had to make the effort”.

I looked down and kicked a few stones with the toe of my shoe. I could feel emotions welling up inside me.

I took a deep breath.

“Daddy, I’m also here because I can’t deal with this any longer. There’s so much I don’t understand. I need to know why you left the family. I want to know why you left me! I’ve always wanted to know the answer to that question!”

My voice was cracking.

“I was just 11 when you walked out and I didn’t understand the dynamics of marriage or divorce, for that matter. All I knew was that you left. You walked out one night without an explanation and without telling me goodbye. Do you have any idea what that did to me? The precedent that set for the rest of my life?”

I looked away, not wanting my tears to tell my story. The sun broke through the clouds and there we were, bathed in the warm Texas sunlight.

I took another deep breath. “Daddy, I believed for years that men leave and that love is expendable. If you get bored with your marriage or if you fall out of love, no biggie, just leave; exit. To hell with making the effort or fixing the problem, just go out and find a newer, younger, thinner model. Find a new family, too. See Daddy, I learned all of this from you! I learned that men leave and when they do, they leave broken people in their wake. I was broken for years. I never knew how to love. Daddy, I never knew how to be loved, either! It was horrible.”

I decided to sit down on nearby bench. The breeze was blowing through the pine trees. It created a hum…an odd discord actually that somehow, seemed fitting. Discord had always been the soundtrack of my life with my father.

I wiped away another tear.

“Life, post divorce was so hard for us, Daddy. It was a struggle in every way, but your absence was what hurt the most. I wanted you to be there when I got braces, when I had my first date…the proms. My graduation. I would’ve loved to have talked to you about the time Jake Shelton broke my heart in eighth grade, but you weren’t around. I hated that you weren’t there. But then again, you missed all of those things, too. And don’t even get me started about college! It was horrible and so were my twenties. What a waste!. I got involved in all these lousy, dead-end relationships. All were abusive in so many ways. I drank too much….did everything too much. But I guess I can’t completely blame you for my screwed up life. Your leaving was probably impetus for everything evil in my life, but no one put a gun to my head, either. I chose to live a wild life because running wild was easier than being responsible. Then again, you know a little about bucking responsibility, don’t you, Dad? Your lack of it constantly forced me to remind myself that I even had a father!”

I was getting angry.

“Allow me to break down what life was like for Mom, Michael and me after you left. We had no money and moved from that five bedroom home into a cramped two bedroom apartment. Mom practically lost her mind. She’d never worked before. She was the wife of a successful businessman, she never had to work. You never wanted her to. She was 39 years old when you left and she had nowhere to go and no money to take her there. She took menial job after menial job trying to support two children. She’d cry for hours sometimes, never leaving her room, except to retrieve another bottle of Vodka. God Daddy, back then, I always thought Mom was such a silly, spineless woman because she wasn’t handling the reality of your leaving very well. I would always say to her, “Come on, Mom. He left and he’s not coming back! Get your shit together!” I had no idea what she was going through; I didn’t know hard her life really was until I lived it myself after Joe left me”.

A large truck with a broken muffler drove by the highway and broke my concentration. Another breeze blew a strong whiff of the truck’s exhaust in our direction.

“Did you ever know why Joe and I broke up? History repeated itself, Daddy. Like you, he cheated on me. With a woman who worked in his building. According to Joe, she was everything I stopped being—thin, young, sexual and apparently, she was willing to put up with his shit. Imagine, that’s what he liked about her. Her tolerance? Well, by telling me that, he was damn sure right about one thing…she definitely did things I wouldn’t do! I wouldn’t put up with his crap. I kicked him out of the house the night he told me that. I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of leaving on his own accord. In the end my defiance didn’t matter. He had the last laugh, I suppose. The bastard married her the day our divorce was final”.

I shifted my weight on the bench and continued the one-sided conversation.

“Men break your heart and Daddy, you broke mine. No two ways about it. When you walked out that door, I stopped feeling safe. In some ways, I still don’t. It didn’t help that you wanted nothing to do with me or Michael after you remarried”.

I brushed my hair out of my eyes then folded my arms across my chest. I shivered. Suddenly, a sunny June morning in South Texas, turned cold.

“Holidays, special events, school plays…we never heard from you. For my 14th birthday, all I wanted was a picture of you because I’d forgotten what you looked like. Of course, Mom didn’t have one to give me. She ceremoniously burned everything you left behind, including pictures and her wedding dress. She put everything into a metal barrel, doused it with lighter fluid and lit a match. You, your memory and all your stuff went up in a ball of fire that really, was fueled more by anger, than anything else. Mom made us roast wieners over the flames. She called the whole process her “rebirth”; a second baptism, this one by fire. I understood the symbolism involved and felt if that helped her move on, great. But it hurt me–more than I knew. For years after that, every hot dog I ate–regardless–tasted like burned taffeta”.

I winced at the memory. The only response was the breeze rustling through the pines. I took a deep breath and looked around me.

“Well Daddy, the kids want to take Robert to brunch this afternoon and I’ve got get back into town for that, but I’m glad I came here today. I think we both needed this, at least, I know I did”.

And that’s when I lost it. Admitting that released a floodgate of emotion. I started sobbing.

“Being here makes me realize how much I miss you. I miss you. It wasn’t that I couldn’t forgive you–I did–years ago. I just couldn’t forgive myself for thinking that I hated you as much as I did, but in reality, I never hated you, Daddy. I just didn’t understand. And no one bothered to explain. Mother made the fatal mistake of talking so badly about you in front of Michael and me. We heard about what a bastard you were day in and day out! She negated our existence by damning you and in our minds, that made you the enemy. To hear Mom wax about what happened, it was as if you stole her money, her youth and her dignity. It was as though you all but murdered her. But in some ways maybe, you did. You killed her spirit”.

I shook my head.

“Even so, I’m mad at Mom too, because for the longest time, she knew I thought I was the reason you left and she never made any attempt to correct it. Why did she do that? She let me think it was all my fault. I agonized over this. I thought if I would have made all A’s or if I would’ve won all my tennis matches or cleaned my room better, you would’ve stayed. The little girl that still lives in the woman I’ve become is only now beginning to fully grapple with everything. I mean, can you blame me? You represented my very first relationship with men. What happened with you set the tone for every relationship that followed. And my God Daddy, you never had any idea what you left behind. Look at your legacy. It’s represented by disappointment and abandonment. And all that pain. I stupidly thought if I failed as a daughter, I’d surely fail as a girlfriend and wife and I believed that.

I bit my bottom lip and just stared at the ground, kicking at a pebble.

Want to hear something odd, Daddy? There’s a part of me that’s looking for a Genie. Yeah, a Genie and I want him to grant me one wish. That’s all I want; one wish. I’d ask him to give us more time. See, I don’t want more time, I need more time. But I can’t have that, can I? That’s my biggest regret. So many years went by and we hardly spoke to each other. Geez, why was there so much anger, Daddy? Were we really that mad at each other? Were we? Or was I more mad at you? I guess so because I wouldn’t respond to your letters and I wouldn’t even answer the phone when you’d call”.

And then it hit me…he had actually written. He HAD called. I realized that my mother’s rage and anger distorted everything, including my point of view, but that morphed into something very convenient and sinister. I used this horrific father/daughter relationship to my advantage. It became my excuse; remaining a victim suited my agenda. That was easier than admitting my culpability in my own unhappiness. Pointing fingers at the son of a bitch father absolved the wounded daughter from all blame.

I buried my face in my hands, then sat on the bench, shaking.

“Daddy, I have to know if…if you can forgive me? Please? I can’t leave without knowing we’re OK. Do what I never could or would do for you–please release me, liberate me from this heartache! Free me from all the pain that’s kept me from living my life.”

That’s when I noticed it was there again. The silence. But this time, I welcomed it. No words were spoken. Really, at that moment, nothing needed to be said. Something was different. I then realized this is what Deliverance must feel like.

I don’t know how long I’d been sitting there. I looked up. The breeze felt cool against my tear-stained face. The sun caressed my entire body. I shivered in it’s warmth. It was incredible. I felt very much alive. I stood up, emotionally drained and weak physically, yet strong in my resolve. I wiped a few remaining tears from my cheek.

“Well, I’ve got an hour-long drive ahead of me, so I better go now if I want to make brunch”.

I paused.

“Daddy, before I go, I want you to know that I miss you. I think about you all the time and please know that I love you, in spite of everything. I wasted so much time harboring all this pain, but I didn’t know what else to do! Hurting was the norm and I’m so sorry for feeling that way. More than you know. I’ve squandered so many years because of it, so please….help me try to get a few back if I can….let’s start over, OK? Today, let’s begin again. We’ll do that by visiting more. I’ll come back soon. I promise. I mean, after all, you are my daddy, right?”

I stood there for a second, allowing the moment to imprint on my memory. I wanted to remember everything. Every detail.

I mustered a smile and whispered, “Happy Father’s Day, Daddy”.

I placed a small bouquet of flowers beside his headstone and touched it briefly before walking back to my car.

.

 

The Funny Thing About Aging

First of all, IS there anything funny about aging?    Probably.   I just can’t think of anything right now.

I can tell you this much—the aches and pains associated with aging are no laugh riot.    The weird smells and certain odd little hairs that start growing in the damnedest places don’t warrant a chuckle.     There are other issues…balance problems, vision and hearing impairments, the napping which you so LOATHED as a child, but crave past age 55 are all interesting phenomenon, but not funny,

I have an arthritic knee that hurts me every second of the day.   I have injuries from  a severe car accident 26 years ago that the passage of time has only made worse.   I have sclerotic lesions in/on my hippocampus within my brain, I tire more easily, I have balance issues, I I can’t tolerate bright lights., loud noises…even music.    I can’t hear as well as I once could,  I can no longer drive at night, I can’t drive without glasses during the day and the thought of driving long trips alone scare me .  In the past right months I’ve mourned the loss of very close friends.    Death knows aging well because from the beginning of time, aging co-opted with death.    They sh their boney  hands It doesn’t own the rights exclusively.    Death takes the young, too.   But those of us at a certain age may not obsess over our mortality, but the changes we feel mentally and physically, make it hard not to realize it’s an ever closer eventuality.

As for me, I can’t remember certain things.   I’d rather be home and watching TV on a Saturday night And I’ve become extremely confrontational.   I’m talking well beyond shouting things like, ,  “And I would have gotten away with it to if it hadn’t been for your meddling kids!!!”.  No, it’s beyond that.     In the past six month, I’ve made three people cry……one was a Marine.

With a few exceptions, I didn’t experience any these things as recently as five years ago.   But here I am.    It’s because I’m older and aging by the second……like you….like that guy oddly griping cucumbers

But as much as life physically hurts every single second of every single day, I wouldn’t go back and I decided  this well before the pains caused from my accident. If I had a Fairy Godmother and in a poof of glittery dust and smoke, appeared before me, magic wand in hand and said she’d  grant me the ability to go back and relive my youth starting at any age,  I’d politely decline.    Now, I wouldn’t heditate to ask if she could completely remove certain people from my past, and even if she could, I still wouldn’t go back.    What the reason, good, bad or infufferent, I am here.

Despite my whining, this piece was initially written for myniece who tuned 35 in June.    Apparently, I celebrated it with her, but I don’t remember it.    So, the rest is for Becky .

She’s a college educated woman,  married to a man not afraid to be a good husband and father to their six and eight year old children.     She says she’s content in life and as far as turning one year older, she says what everyone says about birthdays…..”it’s only a number”.

Well, it is…..and it isn’t.        My heart bursts with joy for the 94-year- old (a number) who can still swim six (a number) Olympic pool size lapse everyday ,    My heart aches for the 71-year-old (a number) to enduring the awful ravages of Alzheimer’s.

When I turned 35, it too was just a number, then fast forward 24 years—it was another number.    And it will be for Becky, too.

Aging is a slow process that acts rapidly.     Personally, I’m not bouncing off the walls with glee about being 58, but the thought of having to repeat everything that got me here,  galls me so that it makes being here worth it.

My life., like my niece’s, has been  graced with a certain flaw that ironically, have proven to be rather beneficial.   Failure wasn’t always an option….at times,  it was a necessity and with each one came new knowledge.      I’m not saying I failed on purpose, most of mine came in the form of bad decisions.    Entering into bad jobs or relationships perhaps subconsciously knowing I was repeating a cycle.    But as I stated, with each failure came new knowledge.    With knowledge comes wisdom and wisdom, serves as a doorman for gratitude.    And with gratitude comes a better life, whether it’s  lived out in a mansion in the Hamptons or in a dilapidated two room hovel in Compton.     It’s all about gratitude concerning who you are and what you have…..but not the stuff you have.   It’s about your contributions, the good you do….the satisfaction you get from doing something worthwhile.   Beyond yourself.

And then you keep quiet about it.    Keep it to yourself.

I’ve learned that the hard way.   Becky and I have talked about this often.    It can be very unfair to proselytize one’s gratitude or happiness, even the ability or willingness to do good.   You keep quiet about how much money you have in the bank, or the  “perfection” of your marriage, your wonderful, superhuman children, your terrific body, your health, that oh so glorious trip to Bali that’ll take you ten years to pay off.    You know, things like that and basically, every other lie on Facebook.

It’s like being in high school…..we’re not all Seniors.     Some still have to go through our Sophomore and  Junior years to reach that level of education.   Everyone has to go through their lives as youngsters and middle agers…..as inevitably, and if we’re lucky to live long enough, as old people.

Becky lost her sister on Vakentine’s Day, 1999.  Holly was 19, a Freshman at Baylor.  She died in a head on car crash that unfortunately, her fault.   The young man she hit, suffer reread severe head trauma and his life will never be the same.  This incident continues to leave to families in a state of grief that even after 18 years, ebbs and flows, but the pain is still there.

One minute, Holly was driving back to college after a weekend visiting her cousin at Texas A&M.     In a heartbeat, Holly missed a turn, overcompensated and the world changed.

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So, I urge you to embrace your present, the right here and now, dear niece,    I urge that of everyone.   I do that because you’ll go to sleep tonight and wake up 30 years from now.  Aging happens that quickly.    See?   A second has already passed since reading that last sentence.    And in this life, there are a very limited number of do-overs, providing you have the awareness to even try to redeem yourself should the situation arise.    Some  can walk blithely through life unaware of the disruption they’ve caused, the pain they’ve inflicted.     But then again, one person’s need for privacy and solo down-time might be deemed as neglect and abandonment by someone else.    And let’s take that further —- desth for some (suicide) is the only solution for what’s thought  to be an extremely desperate situation.    For others,  it’s the scariest finsl act they know.   Man, life isn’t only short, it’s also extraordinarily confusing.

So, for the self- conciliatory belief that birthdays  are only a number well, they are, but it depends entirely on the number.   I would never say “it’s only a number” to someone turning 43 (a number) who has Stage 4 (also a number) liver failure.    Like your Facebook embellishments, please keep that to yourself.

As for anything being funny about aging?     Well, how about this:     Three old guys, all hard of hearing, were playing golf one spring afternoon.   One says to another, “Windy, isn’t it?” “No,” the second man answers, “it’s Thursday.” The third guy, listening in, pipes up, “So am I! Let’s grab a beer.”

 

 

 

 

Teeth

Let’s take a break shall we from my many personal woes, all the geo-political horrifics that keep getting worse, the Never Trumpers and Hillary and other masculine women and focus on a topic much lighter–like teeth.

Great strides have been made in dentistry and orthodontia in recent years,     If you’ve got time, discretionary income and a dentist with a script pas, you too can you have perfect Hollywood teeth like this:

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Was she born with these choppers?      I’m no dental expert, but I’d say no.     I’m thinking veneers.

What about the dental Chiclets on this cat?

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I’d say natural….all his original issue toofies but with some professional dental and orthodontial sculpting.

Teeth are interesting.    If eyes are the windows to the soul, then teeth are the fence that’s keeps stuff in it and stuff from getting out of it.

Teeth and eyes are what I look at first when meeting a potential Mr. Kendrick…at least that was my M.O. years ago when I still on the hunt.       Now, I just peruse  WEb MD looking up symptoms of fatal age-related diseases.

But teeth are vital to our existence.    They’re also indicators of life threatening diseases and are indicators of referred pain.   A toothache can mean indicate a sinus infection or as Niles Crane on Fraiser learned, a heart anomaly.

We must take care of our teeth.  For aesthetics if nothing else.

For example:

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Yum, yum, gimme some.   Nice.

How about a little kiss from this half- man/half-front end loader?

Teeth can be glorious things and some teeth can star in their own horror movie..    There is NOTHING  more gross than gross teeth,     But weird, strange, vile teeth aren’t limited to man and womankind.

Animals of all kinds have some very funked up pearly whites…and  browns, blacks and grays.  Check this out…..’twas pilfered from some Pinterest page.   This lovely array of dental love is from the mouth of something called a Frill Shark,

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The teeth look like tiny antlers.

This next pic is a squid with teeth

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I now feel fried calamari is a justifiable appetizer.

This next set of choppers is brought to you by a Star Nosed Mole.

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This next photo is courtesy of Mother Nature on a day she was feeling bitchy,

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Baboons.   Colorful asses.    Horrendous teeth.

And finally, a sheepshead.   A fish with more perfect human looking teeth than Steve Buscemi.

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In the top photo of the Sheepshead, did you notice that there were teeth all over The upper portion of the fish’s mouth?      Well, that’s because of their diets.    They eat nothing but oysters  and barnacles and once  the front incisors have bitten through oyster or barnacle shells, the fish crushes the rest of the shell with the rows and rows of inner teeth and there you have it….dinner.

This treatise on ugly teeth on humans and beasts, both water and land based, has been posted by me as a public service message.    According to the good folks at Colgate around  nine to 15%  of Americans of have dental phobia, which means they’ll avoid seeing a dentist at all cost.   Why?      Pain.    What is it it an inch or two between a rotten molar and the brain–the real house of  instantly recognizable pain?

And it’s that  damn drill.   It is shrill and horrible sounding and if you’ve ever seen the movie, The Marathon Man, you’ll understand.   The way if feels, the pressure  you feel applied to get to the deeper part of the cavity…..the smell.    I know dentists day drills are much more quiet these days and treatment is less barbaric and blood-letting and leaches are just holdovers for shits and giggles. .

Still for me, it’s the drill.    I don’t mind the numbing shots at all.  Just the damn drill,   Treatment might have changed  butnwhyncsntntheynjudtndop,some specialized liquid into a cavity?   Can’t Colgate-Palmolive get more creative?   The folks at Ultra Brite?        Join forces and think  outside the cavity box?     Remove the fear, anxiety, fear and pain.     Making dental procedures cheaper wouldn’t hurt either.

Plus, dentistry is invasive.    I don’t like having a strangers’  masked faces inches away from mine.    God, I’d make one bad prostitute.

And gen there’s the cost of exams and treatment but and it’s  hard enough finding insurance much less ax decent dental insursnce ptogrsm.

So yeah, I’ll admit I have  dental phobia…….I don’t know why,    I’ve had gynecologists all over my hoo-ha and have had a proctologist partly standing in my rectum excavating it, but a dentist’s gloved hand in my mouth?

Still NOTHING hurts worst than a cavity, or abscesses tooth       Or maybe a kidney stone  or a comminuted fractured bone or about 100 end stage diseases,    This makes me feel like an ass.

Ok, so if you’re like me and dislike dentists depsite their honorable professions and tthe great work they do……on others……. then we need to learn to avoid the dentists by taking better car of our teeth. Brush, avoid sweets, use a nice mouthwash.

And I’ll end this with a vivid reminder:  don’t forget to floss.

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