I Hear What Isn’t Said

The temperature at the beginning of the week was significantly higher than it is now at the beginning of the weekend and so I put on a sweat shirt for the first time in months.

Wore my father’s leather jacket for a good part of the day and laughed to myself when someone told me they really liked the way it looked.

Why?

Because for a moment I remembered what it was like to be the five-year-old boy who put on his father’s shirt, shorts and shoes and half expected to realize everything was far too big.

But it wasn’t because I am not five anymore and that jacket fits with ease.

Been a funny day of memories and thoughts in part because others buried their mom, mentioned the yahrtzheit of their father or otherwise mentioned a parent who is no longer here.

And it dawned upon me I have reached a point in life where it is becoming more common for friends and acquaintances to be in the same club I joined last July.

It is not an anomaly or unusual and while there is nothing wrong with that it feels peculiar.

So when I think about a recent moment and how I would have liked to shared it with dad I recognize that I hear what isn’t said.

You Don’t Know How To Use The Word

“Dad, you don’t know how to use the word correctly.”

“If it makes you feel good to believe that I encourage you to do so. There is very little I am educated in, but I know what Brother Pablo was talking about with his comment about a kiss speaking volumes. I know a few things about people and life and I know about girls.”

She scrunches up her face, rolls her eyes and tells me she doesn’t want to hear it.

I laugh and tell her if she wants to try to use my own tricks on me she better wait until she has more skill.

“I love you, but that doesn’t mean I won’t spend the next 193 years taking advantage of teaching moments.”

She tells me not to exaggerate and that neither one of us is likely to live 193 years but I don’t tell her that her great grandfather told me he thought he might have lived too long.

He didn’t say it often and I didn’t hear it until after grandma died, but I could appreciate it.

At that point he had not only outlived his wife but almost all of his friends and those that were still around were no longer able to travel.

I have to imagine it feels lonely and rough to be in a place where you feel like all you were connected to and with are essentially gone.

“Grandpa, you still have us and we have you.”

He smiled and told me it was true and said he appreciated that and told me how much fun it was to be a great-grandfather.

“But I have to tell you, I don’t worry about some things as much as I used to. Maybe it is because I accept I can’t do any more than I have or maybe it is something else. I am much closer to the finish than the start, can’t spend all my time crying about what I can’t fix.”

****

The genealogy work I have been doing has taken me generations into the past to the names of my great-grandparents grandparents.

Relatives who were born in the early part of the 19th century and must have known people from the late 18th.

Birth dates of about 1830 fascinate me as do names that sound foreign but in some way familiar. Sometimes there are the names of the ships that transported them from the old country to Ellis Island and America.

Some came at the end of the 19th century and some in the beginning of the 20th. There are hints about others who have been here longer as well as those who have been here shorter.

And so I continue to think about who and what we are and who and what we could have been.

It’s A Kind Of Madness

Got the Boss singing about the Streets of Philadelphia and as always it reminds me of my uncle and has me shaking my head.

I always knew he was young when he died, but until I got close to 49 and then passed it I hadn’t really appreciated how young he was.

Hadn’t recognized how much he hadn’t gotten to do and wondered how much he dreamt of but will probably never know the answers to because I don’t know if there is anyone who can answer those questions.

Sometimes I think about going to San Francisco and looking up the store his old boyfriend ran. I think about walking in and wonder if I would find him there.

It is possible that he too is dead and not necessarily because of a terminal illness. He would be old enough now for death to be considered more natural, or should I say for it to be considered about average or so the insurance tables say.

*****

Somewhere around the spring of ’90 or maybe it is ’91 I am staying with my uncle at his apartment in the Castro district.

We go out to eat and watch a couple of men get into a heated argument. It takes me a moment to realize they have some sort of romantic relationship.

My uncle laughs, “it is a kind of madness, these relationships we have with others. Doesn’t matter if you are gay or straight. Our partners make us crazy. Just make sure the that is doing it is the right one.”

He was/is right, they all make us a little crazy and we the same to them, but the right one has the sort of crazy that doesn’t make you want to run headfirst into a wall over and over again.

It is a a kind of madness, but if you can hear what isn’t said you can figure out pretty quickly whether you ought to stick around or not.

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