In the time that once was in places that no longer exist the other husband never wondered or worried about being asked “How Would I Explain That?”
The funny part is in some ways the question was more important and of higher priority than it is/was now. But life is a twisty road filled with bends, dips and crazy drivers so just when you think you have seen/experienced it you come across something new.
Maybe it is because when the one from California is in Texas and hears the echoes of the past seeping in the present and wonders about if the ringing of the bells is merely a ghost shaking off dust or if it is something else.
It’s easier and smarter to call the poltergeist of the past a shade who cannot walk in sunlight and whose light is the same as that which comes from distant stars.
A memory of a time that was.
Yet there is that funny feeling that says those who walk in spaces and places he has been might discover something that causes a familiar and perhaps unwelcome stirring in the belly.
I was tempted to mention this to someone yet I came to the conclusion there was no way to do so because it was a how would I explain that kind of thing.
The funny thing about it is that two hours from now when I am assuredly wearing my superhero mask with my head upon my pillow others miles away may contemplate upon these words.
Shall We Pick?
I shouldn’t have been surprised by my response to being asked to review options and choices for the stone that will mark Dad’s final resting place.
Shouldn’t have been surprised at how the memories and feelings began to wash across me as if they were a giant wave and how much came with it.
It didn’t just bring a few things to the surface, it brought a tsunami of material so I planted my feet in the water and stood my ground.
The younger Mr.Wilner barked at me because he thought the edge in my voice was unfair and when I raised my eyes and caught him he looked away.
Looked away not knowing as I did that he was experiencing something I had been through more the once
That silent glare that made it clear you ought to stop speaking and back away slowly because the fuse had been lit. Come forwar and testing your will was a guarantee of a gargantuan response.
Never physical, but it could be a very significant storm and every Wilner man I have ever known has been aware that his father could peel away the skin within seconds.
You never wanted to be on the wrong side of it.
Knowing as I did what had set me off I did the younger man the courtesy of keeping my eyes upon the screen because I knew I wasn’t ready to speak and really didn’t want to blast him.
He didn’t deserve it and for those few moments I knew the edge would come right out and it was better not to share it.
The old man had told me more than once that I had been particularly adept at not walking away when he was trying to give me an out.
Somewhere in the midst of my workout the memories made me smile, bittersweet though they were.
“Dad, you remember I was the kid who would hit something and scream because it hurt. Served me well on a couple of occasions.”
“You’re lucky you never got arrested.”
“No, I am lucky I never got seriously hurt.”
My younger Mr. Wilner is smarter than I was, far less likely to find himself in those situations.
Part of me doesn’t flinch about picking a stone and determining what text should be upon it.
There aren’t enough words to share all that we would want to say and so we have to find the few that sum up a life in a way that provides comfort to us.
I talked to Dad about it once and he was the one who looked at me and said it didn’t matter.
“I’ll be dead. Pick something that will make your mother and sisters happy.”
I smiled and said, “Here is proof that his eldest son, the favorite child didn’t kill him through nunsense.”
That might not be an exact quote, but it is close enough and the word is spelled exactly as he pronounced it, nunsense.” Some have heard me say it and asked for an explanation and I always said that is how The Big O said it.
Forty-nine years of life with him and I never heard it said differently.
Hans Zimmer accompanies me on this journey and I think about how we carried my father’s casket down a grassy incline, the children and spouses plus the two oldest grandsons.
I took the front left, though I am right handed and silently told dad that if someone’s grip slipped or if their heel stuck in the mud that I would somehow stop him from being dropped and flipped out of the casket.
It was a ridiculous and morbid thought but I have a sick and twisted sense of humor. As we walked there was a moment where I imagined it was like rocket ship that was being launched into space.
Kal-El sends Jor-El off or some kind of silly nunsense like that.
As we gathered I looked at my son’s hands and mine and smiled, ‘cuz we got dad’s hands.
My daughter complains sometimes that she got grandpa’s hands, but she really didn’t. And the fact is neither of them got his feet.
I got the hands, the feet and the shoulders…more or less.
The only son, I am very much my own person but those parts of me make it easy to see him. Sometimes I look down at the keys tapping upon the keyboard and think about how they used to be so much smaller than his.
When the hell would my hands finally be bigger?
Though I was slightly taller than him, my hands never did grow bigger or if they did it wasn’t noticeable.
Because I got the call that the end was imminent I didn’t have time to pack a suit and dress shoes so when I helped carry him to that last stop it was wearing his shoes.
They were new and now they sometimes accompany me to my business meetings and what have you. And unless my son’s feet start to grow in a hurry he won’t get to share this experience.
He’ll have to wear his own shoes to my funeral, not that I’ll know one way or another.
The old man asks me a few questions and I ask him how many details he wants.
He says he doesn’t need to know everything, but is curious about a few things. Says if he knows some meetings can never take place in person he needs a couple of details.
“Why? Cause father’s worry about their sons?”
I don’t have to look in the mirror to know that sparkle is in my eyes and the smile is the one that makes people check their wallets.
“Ok dad, here is the skinny. Don’t go sharing this information because if you do I am going to get asked all sorts of questions and how would I explain that.”
He sighs and smiles.
“I got this dad. Got no idea what will or won’t happen but I got this.”
What I didn’t know was that within a short time I would be standing next to his bed in the hospice saying the same thing, but for different reasons.
I didn’t want him to feel like he had to keep fighting, “I got this dad.”
But I wish I didn’t.