White Haired Man

Recently, I had an image in my mind, a man … many years compiled; white hair, weathered face, eyes that drew you into his stories, his life, seasoned in his silence.  A man who did not speak, just so he could hear himself.  I searched for the picture of a man who fit the image I was contemplating.  The drawing below, of a man’s face, brought to the surface, something allegorical.  

Old Man sketch by rndmtask
Old Man sketch by rndmtask rndmtask.deviantart.com/art/Old-Man-sketch-177029565

Grady. Late seventies.  A jovial man with a thankful spirit, in an assisted living-type of context.  I met Grady in a sports bar a number of years ago. The stool next to him was open.  I didn’t ask, I claimed the place along the bar.  He wore a surfer-style t-shirt (it could have been him on the board riding a wave), thick white hair, large forearms; he had the marked and worn hands of a carpenter, with a nice collection of scars from building houses.  Grady was drinking coffee.  

I asked, ‘”Why would a fella come to a sports bar and drink coffee?”    

The man set his coffee down and looked at me with a strong poker face.  Sizing me up, he said,  “Big TV’s to watch sports.  I get to talk to pretty women.”        

I saw the mischief in his blue eyes, a contagious grin.  I asked him what his wife thinks about such tomfoolery. 

‘There are no big TVs in my home, and only one good-looking gal to talk to.  Belle.  She is my wife. And she understands such matters.” 

I sat with Grady at the sports bar once, or twice, monthly, Wednesday evenings.  He said I had a higher calling than to hang out in sports bars.  I told Grady “Maybe you also have a higher calling than hanging out  in sports bars.”  Grady stared up into the heavens for a bit, before slowly nodding: “This may be true.”

Belle passed in ’91.  I attended Belle’s funeral, sat with Grady, with an unexplainable sense that Belle was there, also, sitting with Grady.  Soon after, Grady moved to where he is now, an upscale assisted living set up.  I hang out with Grady, on Wednesday’s.  Grady has not changed a bit since we met; I was heckling him about drinking coffee in a sports bar.  He is the same big-boned man, somewhere above the six-foot mark, a strong smile and a weathered gentleness.  Grady will shift from regular sentences into multiple phrases; eyes  focused on a place, a thought, beyond our here-and-now.  I think about what he is saying; I look for a pattern, or patterns; and I am able to follow him.  He has a sharp mind.

“Vision … you get it, don’t lose it …’

Belle’s love … “

Friend … priceless …”

Recently, I asked, “How goes the battle, Grady?”

“It goes, my young friend, continues on many fronts.  Sometimes well, sometimes not.”   “Example?” 

“(Pause) We have these debates that come up, some of the men, here.  We encourage each other.  At times, someone will get a bit heated.  That happened yesterday (pause).  I’m learning more about appreciating that … tension … in community.  Over many years, I have found myself worried about losing a friend, if I say the wrong thing, or if I don’t do what people want me to do.  I do not need to fear the tension, the conflict.  These are good men, and we have the freedom to be real and to speak freely.  It’s alright if we see things differently.  Yes.  They are good men, like you.”

I still need to dig a bit deeper with this allegory, to get the big idea,  Based on what I have, so far, I think this allegory is about our gravitation towards authentic relationship; the inner substance of redemptive desire to understand each other, respectively; the potential committment to stick with a relationship for the long haul, versus fading away to move on, to the next “thing”, the next friend.  I hope that you have enjoyed this allegorical place I have gone to.

Advertisements

Yuletide Time, Thinking of Cajuns

Every year, December, one of my thoughts involves the Cajun Christmas story.  Papa Noël heads to the homes in South Louisiana, Santa Claus heads to homes in North Louisiana (and beyond).  No winter in South Louisiana, which means no reindeer, no sled.  Papa Noël cruises down bayous and rivers in a boat, very similar to a kayak, known as a pirogue, pronounced as pe’-ro.  Papa Noel’s pirogue (pe’-ro) gets around pulled by eight (8) alligators.  Their names are:
Image result for pirogue alligators

  1. Tiboy,
  2. Suzette,
  3. Rene,
  4. Ninette,
  5. Pierre,
  6. Alcee,
  7. Celeste,
  8. and Gaston

For those of us who are familiar with Santa Claus (aka St. Nick), a common understanding is that this, somewhat chubby, giver of gifts shows up garbed in red winter wear.  Papa Noël dresses differently, appropriately, in a combination of “long johns” and muskrat fur.  Now, one must realize that the story line is accompanied by Cajun vocabulary, words, and expressions that some may not understand.  The good news is a) you will still understand the story; and b) you will probably enjoy this Christmas tale.  Among the different versions, I hope you use this link.  Some of the accounts are inaccurate, and of lesser quality.  

http://www.creativeyouthideas.com/resources/humor/cajun-night-before-christmas/

 

Oreos, Dreams, Realities

Image result for Images Oreos‘Couple of Oreos in the night after a disruptive dream. I could not quite remember the details. The Oreos were amazing.  A son, undisputedly handsome with a good, a noble, heart, intelligent, awareness of his world sharper than a sword, gifted in a way that he did not ask for, bringing him intermittent sorrow, coexisting with joy, a sense of humor, robust imagination, warrior spirit.  I had my share of wounds, lost at times in a world that moves much faster than I can grasp, my own creativity I cannot get to, I look for trails but they are unfairly elusive.  I found myself grieving for a man who was and is a legend, who loved well, lived well, laughed well, my friend and my dad.  But none of the dream was a dream.  Reality has a great deal of mystery, at times.

I was walking with a woman, swirled in beauty with blonde hair and with unfathomable wisdom, a saint of a mother with the spunk to tell me when I was wrong, who married me in spite of me and my wounds and groaner jokes.  Two younger ones looked up to me with love and respect, and I was confused by that: a daughter with eyes that can see into the depths of the journey, the hearts and souls of others; my son who creates so many things, his laughs radiate outward and inward toward others.  I stood in Scotland at the castle Dunnotar, and at the Loch Ness hoping for a glimpse of Nessie, the Loch Ness “monster”.  I walked along the ice road between McMurdo Station and Willy Field (camp) in Antarctica.  I sat in the Christchurch Cathedral, putting together some pieces, there at the Christchurch Square.  But the dream was not a dream.  They are sparkling realities and memories I keep close.

One Year Later … I Still Want To Be Like My Dad

Yesterday, Saturday the 24th, I wrote this post … but was unable to send it until today.

*

Today, I pushed something away, something of importance.  Then I brought it back in, embraced it.  A year ago, my Dad finished his race, crossing the line into the Place where most of us will go, when we are finished here, a place where we don’t suffer anymore, and we are joyous beyond our comprehension. I know that place as Heaven.  It was the day my Dad died that I wrote a short tribute. https://t7danieldavis.wordpress.com/…/06/24/dad-man-a-trib…/

Image result for Images old soldiers laughing
http://medicinthegreentime.com/war-jokes-no-laughing-matter/

I have great confidence, he is happier than ever.  No pain.  I envision him sitting with countless individuals from the War, especially in the South Pacific, swapping stories of the good memories … only the good memories.  *NOTE: my dad is not in this picture.  But it reminds me of my dad, laughing.

Dad  was a golfer.  I get these images in my mind of beautiful fairways and greens, Dad hitting the ball well, avoiding the rough.  The weather is good, not too hot, slight breeze, the sun peeking out from time to time.

Related image

It is good to remember: but what I remember, and  how I remember, is important.  Letting people, and my stuff, go as I put one foot in front of the other; as I make my efforts to love well, and grieve well; as I laugh when those wonderful opportunities come … These also important, along with remembering.  I have taken a good look at different pieces of my life, over the past  year, and one of those is my selfishness.  Dad’s not suffering.  So, maybe I am more concerned about myself.  When someone I love goes, because it is his time to go, and because he wants to go, rewarded for his life with a place of unfathomable goodness …Shouldn’t I be happy for them?  And I am.  Truly I am.  Yet, I am sad because there were signficant things that I wish I would have told him … things that I failed to tell him.  I miss his presence, although his pain and his fatigue prevented him from actually being … fully … present.  I write about all this, even though the man moved on a year ago, because I am trying to connect with my “here-and-now”: how his life affected me and impacts me on this day, in the night, in the mornings.  I am considering what he taught me, that I can apply today, if I have the courage to do so. Lastly, I am considering the precious people who are in my life now … so that I can enjoy  them, now … and love them, now.

 

“Prodito” In The House, Hope Rolls On

Prodito in the house !

Prodito (Latin):

The breaking or violation of a presumptive social contract, trust, or confidence that produces moral and psychological conflict within a relationship among individuals, between organizations or between individuals and organizations.
pixabay.com/en/mountains-trees-mist-nature-1030915/

Standing up on a rock cropping in the mountains … 9 to 10 thousand feet elevation … watching a mass of evergreens  when the wind comes toward you is a beautiful image.  You can see the wind move in the distance, the trees nodding their crowns toward you, closer, closer, closer, and the force glides past you, over you, through your hair.  And then, it is gone.  Some friends are like that.  A “friend” is not always a friend.  It is one thing, someone speaks  something difficult to hear, with some measure of truth.  It is another thing to, as in “prodito” … break / violate a social contract / trust / confidence … that brings about moral / psychological conflict within a relationship.

Image result for images of friends betrayal
quotespie.com/quotes/betrayal

My family and I went out on a limb to help someone … a friend … a few months ago.  Over a period of about ninety days, we bought them meals, provided transportation with the bigger goal in mind of helping them get on their feet.  We helped them with expenses.  We were like family.  Then, things started to “go south”, gaining momentum.  I talked to the man, drew a clear boundary, with a calm voice, tactful words, and clarity.  Result?  He went berserk.  I read a number of pieces about betrayal; spent a few hours pondering the reality and concept of betrayal; processed the impact this had on me, along with my family.  I am actually curious if any of my fellow bloggers have identified some of these “categories”, themes, thoughts and emotions.

  • I wrestle with anger and sorrow.  Sorrow, redemptive, healing; anger, unreliable, reckless, selfish, leaves me in a bad place.
  • The quotes I have perused, self-pity emerges as a common theme.  Self-pity showed itself, a distraction from the better path to healing.
  • Betrayal is experienced by everyone, on some level; some experience betrayal on a far more intense, traumatic, level (than others).
  • Am surprised that this could happen to me?  Yes.  No.  Betrayal happens, coexisting with formidable pain
  • Lastly (for this post), I see a profound opportunity in compassion and forgiveness, for this man.  Could it be that a great deal of pain drives this man to “choose” this destructive style of relating?

I know there is more to all of this.  I am interested to know how others have handled betrayal, and what their experience is.  I know that I can learn from this, regardless of my own pain.  I also know that prodito was in the house for a short while.  But no more.  And in the same house, which is our home, hope rolls on.

 

 

 

 

Little Snow, Little Rest, Little Coffee

People talk, you know.  We learn over time that you cannot believe everything you hear. “The moon, part of it, is made of green cheese.”  “Elvis Presley is a hermit living in Utopia.”  “Humpty Dumpty was pushed” (actually, this might be legitimate!).

So, when they said that we had a total of (about) 16 inches of snow, here … yesterday / through the evening … I just didn’t see it.  But, it’s close to being accurate.  The snow, usually, jolts me out of any fog that I’m in the midst of.  The radiant sun shining through the windows, always finding my eyes, lights up the snow, presenting the white precipitation in a glorious way.  While I grabbed some rest last night, the snow was happening, and then it stopped …  My body, and more importantly the two dogs, made it clear that the rest was over.  My mind wanted more, but my body said, basically, “that’s enough, time to get up … and make some coffee.”   For years, my coffee was with cream, and two sugars.   About 2015, I decided that because I was so tired when I surrendered my sleep, I would start drinking my Joe black, but still with two sugars.  Things have been better, since that difficult decision.  So, that is a little of what is happening.  A little snow, a little rest, a little coffee.  Black coffee.

 

Now? Or Before?

I stumbled out of slumber; resistance, prolific (an exaggeration).  No turning back.  Onward.  Life moves toward the finish line, while some still live in the past, keeping a strong focus on memories, life in the rear-view mirror.  I struggle at times, embracing  present and future, vigilantly keeping the past at bay.  I grieve for the loss of my dad, who honorably crossed that profound finish line in June of 2016; ten months have passed.  I remember so much about my dad, the adventures; the pain of what I missed out on, important words unsaid.  I shake my head with frustration: the grieving has gone on for just shy of a year.  I want to wrap this up, move onward from my dad, let him enjoy the great festival of freedom and joy, released from this jaded world.

Image result for Images map of Noatak, AlaskaEven with my intent to be present, in the “here-and-now”, images, people, memories, drift in from the past.  Intrigue.  Curiosity.  Recently, I stumbled across a picture of an Inupiat family in  Noatak, Alaska.  A good-looking family, from 1929. The Inupiat are in northern / northwestern Alaska, and  part of the Northwest Territories.  Inupiat traditional territory spanned Norton Sound on the Bering Sea to the Canada-United States border.  

Inupiat_Family_from_Noatak,_Alaska,_1929,_Edward_S._Curtis_(restored).jpg (3751×2872)
1929,_Edward_S._Curtis_(restored).jpg (3751×2872) …  

Noatak sits on the west bank of the Noatak River, 55 miles north of Kotzebue, 70 miles north of the Arctic Circle. This is the only settlement on the 396 mile-long Noatak River, just west of the 66-million acre Noatak National Preserve.  Noatak was a fishing and hunting camp in the 19th century, evolving into a permanent settlement.  In 1880, the census listed the site as Noatagamut: “inland river people.”  A post office was established in 1940.  So, you could probably send a letter there if you felt so inclined.

A beautiful woman, a radiant mother, exuding a quiet, authentic, joy.  The man, with an enigmatic mix of confidence, strength, and peace.  The little one, surrounded by fur and love.  Below, a photograph, an Inupiat group heading out to fish in their kayaks, the same year, 1929, by the same photographer, also in Noatak.  I wonder if the Inupiat man (above), is one of the Noatak kayak-fishermen ( below)?  

Eskimos in kayaks, Noatak, Alaska. Photograph by Edward S. Curtis, ca. 1929. Edward S. Curtis Collection at the Library of Congress

 I revisit stories and individuals in the past.  I draw strength from them.  Going back “there” empowers me to move forward, onward.  C.S. Lewis’s words resonate:  Image result for Quotes Onward

Some parts of the stories, I do not know.  I visit the lives of  sojourners who have gone before us, highlighting mystery.  Mystery is very much alive, all over: the mystery of how love works, how love looks; how to find meaning and joy in our circumstances and our stories; gazing into a ravishing sunset; seeing a harvest moon arise, especially when one is not expecting it; and the Northern Lights.   Within this tension between reflections on the past and returning to the present and the future, I am there.  The grieving process … mysteriously … continues, longer than what I would like.  The grieving process continues beyond my timetable; I want to know more about the mystery of the man, my father; and the memories.  My cell phone still shows me the current time.  My heart continues to beat.  My breathing continues.  The future is around the bend, and I cannot hold it back.  I live in the present, and I ride it like a wild bull.  I hold on for the ride of my life.