3 weeks are winding down and I just can’t believe how fast its gone.
The biggest part of me feels sad that Maureen and Mark will be flying out on Friday afternoon,
the smaller part feels very happy that they will be going home to family and friends. (I know, a bit selfish)
This is a picture post of some of the places we’ve seen and things that we’ve done these past 3 weeks.
Look for more pictures and many future posts about this most special of vacations for
Pamela, me and the girls.
This has been like a little slice of heaven . . .
There are ephemeral moments in life that defy description and reason simply by lack of concrete definition.
Although they are minute slices of microcosms in time they occasionally scream at me
to look more closely at them.
These serendipitous moments come random and unannounced;
I have missed many because I wasn’t paying attention,
too preoccupied with some other curious ripple in the darkest oceans of my life.
Today was different.
I was listening.
What happened today was a very short and simple conversation with a woman I have never met before.
I don’t make this stuff up it just happens. A Godwink?
She came into the store early this morning wearing a long black parka with a fur-lined hood.
The icy Boston rain had her wearing said hood, therefore hiding her face.
She told me she was hoping to find some empty cigar boxes outside the store but that she was sad because there were none. (We always put the empties outside where passersby can just take them)
Hang on, I said, I think I have a few in the back.
I went and came back with two small wooden cigars boxes with sliding lids.
They were made out of Spanish cedar and smelled wonderful.
Looking back on this morning, it’s ironic that one of the cigar boxes had the name ‘Illusione’ on the top of it.
I have these, I said, handing her the boxes.
Oh, my, she said, this is just what I wanted.
Thank you so much.
No problem, I said.
Before she turned to leave, she looked up at me.
Under the fur-lined hood I saw a distant and almost yesterday version of my mother’s face.
She smiled and softly said, ‘love you’ and made a *mwah kissing sound as she left.
Love and free cigar boxes usually do not go together.
I stood there in the middle of the empty store with ridiculous goosebumps.
She even sounded like my mother, for Christ’s sake.
I could see what I wanted to see and hear what I wanted to hear.
Maybe I’m going out on a limb here making all these iffy connections,
seeing and hearing things that may not even be there.
To think and believe the actual possibility is dreaming and maybe sadly inconsequential is justified
but this morning I was a true believer in existential possibility.
I ‘heard’ the voice of my mother say ‘love you’ for the sake of two wooden cigar boxes.
Some days you have to take what life gives you and today,
I think I did just that . . .
I need the sharpest of knives to slice this epidermal anomaly from the trappings of my weak and aging body Deep slices to the elbows, slow and tender slices to the knees please scratch my legs until they bleed, thank you please this betrayal of skin, the most hideous part of me is a possession of the worst kind, an internal itch I will never be physically able to touch theP takes over my body, the quintessential tired host it will never be free . . . as the crimson spreads far above the blood that boils deep within me People will continue to stare, invisibly pointing to my sprawling scarlet letter ‘P’ just another ugly ducking, just another ugly waiting stranger hiding deep inside of me . . . I hate this
I have followedRichard Page for almost his entire career.
From ‘Pages’ and ‘Mr. Mister’ to all the background vocals he’s done over the years.
Who is Richard Page?
You have heard him before.
Trust me. Click here. Click here. Click here.
An amazing musician that never got the recognition I think he truly deserved.
Such is the fickle nature of the music business.
Please enjoy his holiday offering.
The deeper message of this song far surpasses all the 70% off Xmas sales at ‘Walmart’ and ‘Macy’s’
This is yuletide warmth, cubed.
And yeah, I always cry at Christmas . . .
Sarah and I went to visit my father yesterday to feed him lunch and sit with him for a while.
Lately, he’s been overly emotional for reasons I may never be privy to.
The minute he saw us, he broke down completely.
I feel terrible saying it but I’ve almost gotten used to it now.
I had to.
My empathy for him that once seemed to be an impossibility to avoid feeling
has now turned into an acceptance of sorts that boggles my mind.
He was in the rec room that overlooks the city waiting to be fed.
I wheeled him to his room where I know it’s quiet and had Sarah get his lunch.
He’s a finicky eater these days around everyone except my sister and me which makes total sense.
His diet is now 100% pureed making his meals look more like and artist’s palette than a meal.
I learned yesterday that spinach makes my father cry.
On his plate were potatoes, spinach and something that would resemble pasta and meatballs in the ‘baby food’ format.
20 years ago, the thought of drinking an Italian meal through a straw had never occurred to me.
My father’s daily nutritional needs are now thrown into a blender ala ‘Bass-O-Matic’.
And I wonder why he cries?
I can’t get away from the feeling that a small part of him is frightened.
Not of me or Sarah or Maureen or Pam and the kids but he seems almost Fear Factor scared.
My sister says he’s a tortured soul and I would have to agree.
There are so many things that run rampant through my mind as I feed him, spoonful by blessed spoonful . . . (I’m looking at a rainbow hovering over Boston as I write this. Truth)
there was the day we brought my mother to assisted living and took my father back to our house for a BBQ.
That may have been one of the last times that I actually ‘had’ him.
He was making sense and I could talk to him and he could understand me.
He was profoundly sad about bidding farewell to his wife for two weeks but at least he still liked the taste of beer (something he’s since lost long ago)
Spoonful by blessed spoonful . . .
the soft, cool grass beneath my feet in the backyard as we played catch after he got home from work.
We never talked when we played catch but there was conversation that he and I understood.
Especially when he threw a ball with some mustard on it, smiling as I caught it.
That was my own personal field of dreams.
Spoonful by blessed spoonful . . .
the Christmas night I went to the facility he was staying in and found him in a self-induced sugar coma after polishing off an entire bag of Dove’s chocolates that someone had given him.
There were candy wrappers everywhere, discarded like wrapping paper on Christmas morning.
He seemed ready to do jumping jacks, for Christ’s sake
I keep praying for a rainbow in his future but he’s having one hell of a time seeing through the gauzy reality he’s currently living in.
I finish giving him lunch and to my surprise he’s eaten everything save for the Popeye spinach soup.
I’m happy because he has a belly full of food but he’s the farthest thing from a happy ending because he knows it’s time for me to go.
I kiss his forehead and say, “I love you, Dad,” to which he replies, “Yeah.”
Sarah and I walk to the door and she says, “Bye, Grampa.”
More Wally tears.
We walk down the corridor to the elevators in silence as I allow myself to cry a bit on the inside
wanting badly for the seemingly inconsequential goodbyes to finally end.
It’s then that I have an small epiphany; as I feed him lunch, he’s actually feeding me.
It’s a Communion of sorts between my father and I.
I change my mind then and there.
And all of a sudden I don’t want the goodbyes to end.
One night at the Cape all of us went toBaxter’s in Hyannisfor dinner.
It was a beautiful night as we sat watching the ferries come and go in the harbour.
Not sure what everyone ordered to eat but no one was talking and I’m assuming it was all good.
I do remember that Mark got an enormous Fisherman’s Platter that looked incredibly good,
no, it was ‘call your cardiologist before eating’ good.
He gave me a fried scallop that was roughly the size of an Aussie cricket ball which I split with Pamela.
It was so good I had to go back up to the counter and get a side order for us to split.
I’ll never learn.
It was such a beautiful night that I suggested we walk Main Street in Hyannis and check out some of the shops.
While the womenfolk were looking at Cape Cod jewelry,
Mark and I wandered over to a leather store across the street.
The rich, earthy aroma walking in was almost narcotic.
I love the smell of leather.
Mark and I were immediately drawn to the hats hanging on a wall in the back of the store; there were porkpies, fedoras (ala Indiana Jones), top hats, baseball caps and one very special hat that I somehow missed.
Mark asked to see a now familiar hat on the very top row.
“Check it out, mate. It’s an Akubra made in Australia,” He said,
as he showed me the inside label of his hat by the same maker.
I loved the hat he was wearing when he first showed up at the house and now I knew why.
He asked the price ($85) but by now Pamela and all the girls were standing next to us ready to go.
I wanted to buy the hat because I really liked it and I wanted to offer a showing of solidarity to Australia.
Alright, the solidarity part was my brain making up bullshit but I really loved the hat.
I could hear Pamela in my head saying, “You Have Enough Hats!”
I’m thinking now there was a reason I didn’t get it. Move forward in time to Logan Airport on the Sunday Maureen and Mark were leaving.
Pamela, Hannah, me and M&M were standing at the gate, all of us knowing what was coming next.
Mark patted Moe on the bum and said, “Alright. Let’s go. Let’s get this done.”
Probably some of the hardest words my friend has ever had to say.
The Tear Factory was now open for business but before it closed, Mark took off his Akubra and placed it on my head and gave me a huge bear hug.
“Take care of this for me until the next time, buddy.”
Translation: How Michael got his very first Akubra.
You never forget your first.
I don’t know much about the road ahead of me but I do know this; the next Akubra I put on my bald noggin won’t be from some leather shop in Hyannis, Ma.
I’m thinking someplace much more exotic . . .
Like Queensland, Australia
A quick post forMaureen andMark who will be leaving us tomorrow afternoon bound for home.
This post is more emotional for me than you could ever believe.
Thank God it’s not live on YouTube.
From Pamela, Sarah, Jenna, Hannah, Jon and me . . . Godspeed on your trip back home.
Know that there will always a ‘home away from home’ for the both of you right here. We don’t want to let you go but sadly, we must.
Two weeks ago, the song in my head was ‘Get Here’ but now I’m thinking it should be ‘Get There’,
back to Oz where your hearts and souls live.
Thank you for your love, your stories, your hearts, your incredible ability to make us laugh
(and take the piss out of us) and your endless Aussie generosity.
Pamela and I are gobsmacked and so incredibly blessed.
Might take a while but We’llberightmate . . . until the next time anyway.
Love you both to bits . . .
ps. light the candle, Maureen
pps. I’ll keep on working on the G’day . . .
I know you’ll never read this but I wanted to take a few minutes
and tell the world how very much you mean to me and Maureen.
We miss so many things about you; your laugh, your smile, your once bright eyes,
the way you used to drive Mom nuts whenever you tried to sing,
how proud you were of your wonderful grandchildren,
even the way you used to wrap yourself up like a mummy whenever we went to the beach so you wouldn’t go all ‘lobster’ on us.
I’ll be visiting you this Sunday and will undoubtedly feed you lunch,
maybe give you a shave if you need one.
It’s really sad that there isn’t more I can do.
But at least I can do that.
I haven’t been keeping up with the Red Sox like I used to either.
That was something I did when you were better so we’d have something to talk about besides the weather.
These days the weather isn’t worth talking about anyway.
I saw an older man sitting on a bench on the Boston Common the other day that looked just like you.
I absentmindedly started walking faster towards you him before I caught myself.
He wasn’t you.
He could never be you.
Then again no one could ever be the man I call my father except for you.
On Sunday, Maureen and I pray a small part of you knows how special you have always been to us
and will continue to be.
Maureen says it best when she gently puts her hand on your cheek and says, “You are the greatest Dad ever, you know that don’t you?”
And so I will say, “Happy Father’s Day, Dad,”
because in my heart I know you’re still in there somewhere.