The world was once an endless buffet of pleasures and choices to be made. Then the gradual loss of my parents and old friends taught me the stark reality of the real illusion of that freedom. The loss and the reality that results comes slowly. The shock is too great to take in all at once. As the sun slowly rises, so does it set. I never will regain the loves I once took for granted; not in the least the most dear of all. What a fool I am. But how can an elder explain to a child that a puppy or kitten will grow old and die? What context can the child frame the concept in? And why does the moth flicker about so close to the flame? With every day so full of life, what room is there for death? At last, that room is found. The last room we will find. The room beyond all hopes and dreams; the room we pass alone. How unfair it is that we come into this world not alone, but pass beyond in solitude….or not? I one day will have the answer, but will not be then able to answer that question for you…
While my father was still in Viet Nam, our family returned to my Mother’s home town. A large, old frame house, with a neighbor’s discarded piano outside. I was enchanted by it, out of tune, but what does a four year old know of that? To make ends meet, my Mother took a job doing advertising for the local J. C. Penny’s store for the local paper. After three years in Germany, I spoke as much German as English and some how learned that non-verbal communications were as much value as any spoken language. Hence the gravity to music. But this story is not about music. It is about human relations. My mother hired a Nanny for her children. A college girl from a family my Grandmother had known for years. As she still lives, at last I heard, years ago, her name I will keep private. In preface, I should write that my Mother was a Civil Right’s worker and at great peril traveled to the Deep South after others had disappeared. She found nothing of help to the solution of the loss of the three later found encased in a concrete dam. Three whites making a statement for the freedoms of others. Blacks. Years after, my Mother needed help to raise her children. The old family friends were there, and gladly. I never will forget the M&M’s the girl my Mom hired put into my hand. I was forbidden to eat in bed, and I laid in my bed until they melted in my hand. Yes, M&M’s will melt in your hand. I knew her love; I knew my rules. At four, I dealt my first dichotomy. Later, Mom and I would come to grief. Another story. Years go by and I get to be first a friend and later a lover to Her I will not name. (She is married).. And yes, she is of African decent. And I still pray for her. From one to another, we were a safe place to hold. Like this or not; I hold no quarter for small tribal minds. Leave to them to their tribes. I would like to think that I am a man of mankind. I was Four years old. I learned by her teaching that Love is universal. My Mom couldn’t pay much. But she gave love to me not knowing that it was to turn into a man beyond racism. Beyond race, I am a man of as many cultures as I can learn. Some bad days find a good rest. And with a peace in my heart, I do find rest. I took that teaching from my Mother, a once young Civil Rights volunteer, and found that all manner of mankind just wanted to live and let live. The news is full of the nut cases, but more copy and air time should be spent on the cases of those from far reaching backgrounds;reaching out in abject love; those who disregard the mundane, common, socially safe, yet still not without the danger of the disdain of the unenlightened. I was but a small child. I was taught to love and to accept. At times, it is hard to follow; and still at times I fall into a quiet solitude to reckon with my heart. And, yes, with both my Deity and my Mother’s example. Peace and beauty are all around, if the will for strife can be set aside. I do my best to lay that away and during the times it gets hard, the guitar or a long walk brings the peace back to me. In closing, I will say one more truth I have learned: The most ignored sense we have been blessed with is that of the heart. It hurts more than fire to the skin or thunder to our ears. Yet in all our days, the heart is always there: Care well for it. In the end, your heart is all you take with you. Too often I have come close to death, and thought, “What is in my heart?”. We all must pass. Let hatred and fear pass you by like the wind in the air. I will go in ease; may you do so as well.
I once was visited by Her. I can not deny that. I touched her, and I felt her touch. A terrifying experience, but one I would revisit without fear. One does not commune with the ghost of a Goddess without a measure of fear at first. An ever present shadow over all my dreams, a haunting shade over my being in every waking moment; I submit. Small wonder, in light of this truth, that I am drawn to the Pagan ways. A man speaks to me in written word, yet a woman came to me and held me, wordless. In her silence I found peace, a peace I still seek out and yearn for. Taken by the sky, I will one day be, lifted off within Her arms. The whole of the story is never ended, but another writing yet to follow…..
As a young man who grew up in the upper mid west, he did very well for himself. His father was a machinist and his mother worked as a clerk at the local general store. A wonderful place that was; nothing like the Superstores we are subjected to now. My Dad knew what is is to work. Even his mother worked at home canning various foods for storage against hard times that eventually come to pass. My father went to the Air Force and was a fighter pilot. In his F-86 Sabre he chased the Mig-15s back over the line while never having to shoot at another pilot, just doing his job. While having been trained to kill, he never found a justified reason to do so. The years that followed found him in Viet Nam, and there he served our people well. I remember the art and woodworks he brought back from the far east. Beautiful. I was just a small child then, and perhaps that is why the impression is so great upon me. Asian food, chop sticks and spices. Not fried chicken or pot pies. Fresh fish caught in a stream, wilted lettuce in bacon grease. My father is many things, foremost, he is a father. A wonderful cook, never too much garlic or lemon. I have been blessed to be his son. His passion for cooking good food surpassed any rush to the fork and knife. I gladly awaited the fine, fine result of my father’s cooking. How he learned to cook so well, I do not know. I just know that the old man could fly a fighter and cook a fine meal. What more could any kid ask of his Dad? I have been blessed to be his son. In another chapter, I will relate my times and experiences as a pilot. I cook too, but not as well as Dad. Dad served two “tours” in Viet Nam. Calling it a “tour” gives it the sound of a vacation. Far from that. Viet Nam in 1968-1969 was no garden party. I’ve never heard much from him about those years. He did tell me of the mortar fire and sleeping with an M-16 at his bedside. He also said the food there was great. Not the G.I. stuff, the real food from the local places. There comes my love for Asian food. He never made me eat with chop sticks, but he did, and I finally mastered them. It is a part of the experience of eating Asian food. A fork just can’t get you there. If you can, find a Vietnamese soup restaurant, and order the Pho with thin sliced beef. Tear up all the herbs and spices, bean sprouts, and mix it up. Somewhere in that bowl you will find an experience of a man not yet thirty. A man in combat. A man resolved to duty and family….My Father. I have known many great men, but my Dad tops them all. I wish I could have been more like him, and less like my Mother.