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The sun is slanted across the deck. I am stew inside. Beef stew I suppose. That kind that has that stuff in it I donít like. I donít know what it is. All I know is that I can make beef stew that I like but other people put something else in it that I donít like and I donít know what it is. Maybe I should Google some beef stew recipes and see what is in them. I bet I would recognize the ingredient if I saw it written down in a recipe. It is galgantuan or some such.
At the Chinese restaurant they play a tape of 60ís music. We hear the same songs every time we go there. I feel there is something not quite right listening to Procol Harum at a Chinese restaurant. You should hear Chinese restaurant music. Other than the music, the restaurant is ok. It has the split booth seats patched with duct tape and the paper dragon on the ceiling. The food is good. I always order the same thing. We usually get the same waiter and have come to like him as much as the food. It is our Chinese restaurant.
I have two trips coming up I am dreading. It is not the trips themselves so much. I dread all trips. I dread most instances of leaving the house. It is part of my anxiety disorder. What I need to do is relax and take these trips slowly and deliberately. I need to remember to breathe while I drive, to breathe while I greet my parents, siblings, children, nephews, and nieces. If I remember to do that everything will be fine and I wonít freak out and embarrass myself. I will be sleeping next to the corn fields in Ohio.
Delicate little orange flowers lean up against the deck rail outside. They are blown by the wind, seeming to play in the sunlight. I donít know what kind of flowers they are. You tell me they came up by themselves one spring and you have no idea what they are. The butterflies and humming birds like them. You save the seeds every fall and re-plant them. Life is so fragile. The sequence of events which produces these flowers could be interrupted so easily. They would then be wiped out. Iíve never seen them anywhere else. We are their only caretakers.
I had thought it was about the fifth of August. That would mean my oldest sonís birthday was yesterday and yes, I did wish him happy birthday, albeit on Facebook. I had also wished him a happy birthday a couple days early during a phone call. Actually I should be calling my mother; I should be calling my oldest daughter and asking her if she needs some money. Of course she does. They all do. All of my children are in various stages of broke. There is little I can do for them. Their needs are boundless; my resources finite.
The climbers are half-way up the poles, tools dangling from their belts. They arrived this morning in a white truck festooned with ladders, buckets, and tools of the trade. Iím not sure why they are here. We have not had any power interruptions. Perhaps they are here to give us a power interruption. I hope not. The sump pump in the basement needs a continuous supply of power. The last time the power was off it was out for three days and I was lucky to find a generator rental. It leaked carbon monoxide setting off the alarm in the kitchen.
This is August, my birthday month. There is enough about this month to cause me anxiety without having another birthday. I am going to take two trips, one to Ohio to visit my mother and sister, and one to New York to visit my daughter. My little Honda will be hot on the road. That is a slang phrase my father used to use. I donít suppose the birthday should bother me that much. Once you get through the hardship of dying itself you are presumably dead and nothing else bothers you anymore. It is the ultimate anesthetic that way.
The ground is wet you observe. I am not sure it is. It may be wet. It may just be dirt. The problem is the smell in the basement. It is a powerful moldy smell that started suddenly about a week ago. You now suspect the sprinkler system is leaking. They are sending out a man to check for leaks in the sprinkler system. I am not sure how he man will do this, but maybe they are just doing it to make you happy. I think it will not make you happy unless he actually finds and fixes something.
Personally I am helpless faced with the mold smell in the basement. I am out of ideas for what it might be and what to do about it. I am reduced to reacting to your ideas, some which seem pretty far fetched. I am able to air out the basement, but the smell returns almost immediately. This lends credence to your theory of a broken water line, most likely the sprinkler system. I hope the man coming to look at it finds and fixes the problem. If he does not I have no idea where we will go from there.
The day is a little out of phase, the tree bark rough against my skin. This one is a cottonwood, timber reaching high into the sky, straight and bigger around than I am. And I am a big man. A big man. What does it take to be a big man? I am no big man in that sense. I am a little man. I may have once thought myself to be a big man but I was a little man even then. It likely makes a man bigger to realize how small he really is, a mote of dust.
It is hot here, heat pouring in from the kitchen while the pot pies bake. We will have pot pies for dinner, or a late lunch, a linner at around two oíclock. My eyes are fuzzy, or at least the screen has fuzzy spots on it. Perhaps this is the cataracts that seemed so important to one eye doctor and less so to the next one. Or was the next one merely the first one at a later time? It seems to me now that that was the case. My bare legs stick to the leather footstool of the recliner.
I brought home the flag from my fatherís funeral. They presented it to my mother while she cried. ďThe President thanks you for your service.Ē I think thatís what they said. Everyone agreed I should have the flag. I am not sure why. So I brought it home. I put it upstairs on a bookshelf in my study. I have so little space anymore, so few things. Fortunately, things do not carry the importance they once did. I wonder what will happen to the flag. It will probably be carried off by one of my sons when I am dead.
It is cold outside but warm in here. You like it warm, avoiding air conditioning in the summer and setting the thermostat at 74 in the winter. I like it cooler in the summer, but I survive ok. The warmth feels soothing just now. My insides feel like they have been jerked around on some sloppy amusement park ride. I donít do well with amusement park rides. They donít amuse me. I have always said they are built for enjoyment and I simply do not enjoy them, and so I avoid them. I have been on a few big coasters.
I am sleepy. I think the warm air is making me sleepy. In a while it will be time to practice the piano. It is with some trepidation that I approach the piano today. I have been off for several days while I sorted out other things in life that needed doing. How did I get into this piano thing anyway? I had a piano and you felt I should be playing it? Was it that simple. I wish I could play it better. I do enjoy playing it. It is like writing that way. I wish I were better.
My tongue is thick in my mouth and I have been chewing on it again with my magnificently mangled dental work. My father terrifies me with all his teeth pulled and his false teeth. Is this what awaits me? Will I be able to afford implants? Probably not. The little orange flowers outside are dying. It is going to be an early fall. A hard winter I have also heard but I can imagine an early fall followed by a mild and wet winter. Just enough weather to be a nuisance, wet snow covering the ground and slicking the roads.
I made the trip to Ohio and back. Iíve one more trip to make, the one to New York. That one will be a doozy. Ohio is only about 220 miles each way. New York is about 500 miles each way. I have a hard time with long trips any more. My legs pinch and ache and I have to stop frequently to unwind them. I have the same trouble when I sit too long in a chair. The answer is obviously to get off my butt and walk around a bit more. That would be good for my health.
Itís my birthday. Itís a muggy day much like any other. I am getting birthday wishes on Facebook which generates these wishes by notifying everyone that it is my birthday thus driving its ad revenue higher. Yes I am aÖI seem to have lost the word, but I donít think one word quite accurately describes the function of my brain although it may describe one aspect of it. The word skeptic comes to mind and while it does describe another aspect, it is not the word I was looking for before. Letís just say curmudgeon and be done with it.
A half lemon sat on the countertop next to the sink. It was no longer freshly cut, the face having grown dull and glazed over. It was patiently waiting its turn to be made into lemonade. The world market for lemonade had plunged in the previous year, but was now at a new high because of an attack of lemon pests in the western hemisphere. It was now more expensive than warranted and why anyone would leave a full half lemon just sitting out like that was beyond any understanding. Yet there it was for anyone with eyes to see.
Iím feeling a little sick to my stomach again today. My shirt is wrinkled from being stuffed into a suitcase. In a little while Iíll be off to the grocery store. Iím not quite sure what Iíll get. I think Iím picking up a prescription for you. The rest you will tell me before I leave. Iím just hoping you donít say something like, ďJust pick up something for dinner.Ē I am not so good at making decisions any more. I am easily confused and overwhelmed by simple questions like, ďWhat would you like to drink?Ē Itís been a problem.
A bust of Napoleon sits on a short Corinthian column in the corner. The column may be a little crooked. I canít tell for sure. The bust may be edging toward one side of the column. Iím pretty sure of that. Maybe it will topple off one of these days and Napoleon will break his neck. I hope that doesnít happen. If it does, I hope Iím not around when it does because you are unaccountably attached to Napoleon and it harm were to come to him you would be unhappy. If he fell I would try to catch him.
It was the same as before. The deer crossed the road at 7:15 every morning and again at 7:15 every evening. The sun rose from the same place and set in the same place every day. The leaves hung dappled for autumn but never fell to the ground. The wind had ceased to whisper and the stream did not flow. I even went out with a canoe paddle and tried to make the stream flow again, but it merely swirled around the paddle and otherwise ignored me. No one came to visit. I began to suspect there was no one.
What if, I wondered, time moved on but I did not. What if I were still free to walk around but no longer flowed with time. What if the people slowly vanished as they moved on? Buildings whisked out of sight. Trees rustled and were gone. The very ground on which I stood slowly dissolved into nothing and I was left in a slowly dimming solar wind, also moving on with time. Everything but me. I had got my wish. I would not age. I might not even die except what would I eat? What would I drink or breathe?
The tree limbs slowly dip in the breeze outside. They have not moved on with time leaving me behind. I am continuing to move ahead. I will move on into old age and on into death. I will decompose and will not exist again, possibly forever. Forever is a long time. I once thought there was a possibility for this, for this forever being such a long time. That the possibility of my parts reassembling themselves was a certainty because there was so much time available. That the universe itself would overtime recompose and given the time would repeat itself.
I might have burned my eyes a bit staring into the sun too long while hammering down the turnpike from New York. I had been to Syracuse to visit my daughter who was defending her doctoral thesis. She was successful. The celebratory dinner was a small affair in a Mexican restaurant inside a converted church. It was a small church. It reminded me somewhat of the church I grew up in although the ceilings here were higher and the room not as wide as remembered. A man can be only so many places at one time. One to be exact.
The small room is ok. Actually it is a bathroom with a small loveseat. I could go back into the living room and work or I could go sit on my sisterís porch. I am doing fine here though so I will probably stay here for a while yet. It is actually Sunday and my head is cool because my hair is still wet from my shower. I am trying to work things out in my head about my dead father. It is not a thing that can be worked out. It is not a thing that needs to be.
I sit in a room on the side of the house while my mother bakes pies. I can get internet here. I canít get the Wi-Fi on my phone because I havenít loaded in the password yet. I wonder if I will get around to it this trip. My daughter may be on the road, driving into Ohio. We need another pallbearer. I wonder if women are allowed to do that. I think it has been one of those traditionally male roles. I donít see anything wrong with my daughter helping out. Certainly she can do as well as these old men.
My father died Friday night. I am here in Ohio waiting for my children to arrive, to possibly overwhelm my sister and mother, to attend the funeral. It is quiet just now, the calm before the storm. They say my father was talking to his father in his dreams before he died. The nurses at the nursing home say this is a common thing, for patients to talk to dead relatives just before they go. I wonder who will come to talk with me. They say my grandmother ushered many relatives to the other side. I should go socialize now.
My sister said my father gave her very specific instructions for his burial. He was to have the Masonic rites and the military honors. All he ever told me was that he wanted to be thrown over the fence to the cemetery next door. That was where he was buried, an eyeshot from the house, perhaps seventy-five yards. I still have visions of him lying on the other side of the fence in his carpenterís jeans and work shirt, arms and legs splayed at odd angles, slowly decomposing while the townspeople went about their lives and the locusts buzzed overhead
Some claim to have been visited by the dead. I have not been visited by my father yet. Perhaps we were not close enough. We were both hard-headed enough about things. But I think he cared enough for me to grant me a visit if it had been in his power. This being so he would have known how much I needed it. Perhaps. Perhaps I did not need it as much as I thought. Perhaps I will be alright without it. I donít know who my mother will visit. She seems so angry at everyone most of the time.
I feel a little sick to my stomach. I have for the past few days now. I think it is probably all the travelling about and the uncertain food I have been exposed myself to. Everything from Subway to a church potluck dinner. My eyes feel drawn down and my jaw aches. I am sensitive to every ache and pain as I am afraid of dying. I donít know if it is the being dead that bothers me so much as the process of dying. The being dead seems like a thing to be grateful for, a cessation of pain.
It has now been nearly a week since my father died. I realize there is nothing unique about my experience or my own intermittent and sudden bouts of grief. I called my mother today, my daily phone call. She was not answering, most likely her red flip phone abandoned on the snack bar while she wandered off. I called my son Tom who was still there with my sister to see if he had seen her. He was at the grocery store with her and with Georgia Ann, one of the great granddaughters. I imagined them climbing into the SUV.
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