Hell is a place where what you least desire becomes eternally yours, or so we were told as children, well not us, not the Jewish kids, for us Hell was our mothers’ finding that copy of Playboy we stole from our father’s stash our mother didn’t know about, and which he would deny, throwing us under the bus or any large vehicle she found
If we buy into Hell, and given that ours is an aging population, many of whom have landed in Florida and Arizona to avoid the winters that are hell on the ubiquitous arthritis, and all those who have joyously consumed the evangelical Kool-Aid, when the final bell rings, they may be surprised to discover there is far, far more of a chance of a snowball in Hell.
We now live in a strange world where nothing is as it was mere weeks ago. I am blessed to live on a small nature preserve and have been spending my afternoons with camera in hand. So if you want something other than words (which follow) you are welcome to visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/98342503@N00/, my Flickr site, which is updated daily. A sample of what you will find:
It seems odd how often our fathers depart suddenly, our mothers make a slower retreat, slipping away while always still present, a death by 1000 days, the cuts inflicted on our psyche, small wounds that never fully heal, but fade, so the scars are only seen and felt from the inside. My parents never did things as expected, so my mother complained bitterly of the small difficulties of life, until the morning she suddenly departed, at the stroke of 6:15 while my father lingers, still happy in ever shortening increments, both of us knowing he is fading away and I may never know he has departed after he is gone.
Even when I was briefly in Edinburgh I dreamed of walking the streets of Lisbon or Porto looking into the faces of older men and wondering if this one was my father. the father I had never seen, never known. Was the one my Jewish mother described in detail to the social worker who took me from her shortly after she gave me life. It is many years later, now, my mother has a face, discovered in the twisting path of a double helix, good West Virginia Jewish stock, Lithuania left far behind. I may someday visit Lisbon, I hear it is a lovely city, but the faces will all be alien to me, and there I will dream of my day touring the Highlands of Scotland, the Isle of Skye, and which of the McDonald’s and McAllister’s might be kin and which Tartan I can now rightfully claim is my own.
I have fond memories of a childhood I never lived. Those are the best childhoods from for they reflect life as you meant it to be lived. In this life my father is in his late nineties, still smiles when he sees me, not didn’t clutch his chest sixty-one years ago, didn’t fall to the floor, didn’t leave me half an orphan again, doesn’t live only in the periphery of my dreams.
The woman at the next table stares at her fork with eyes which appear bottomless pools of sorrow. She picks at the noodles, raises and lowers the glass of wine without sipping. She is lost within herself and even the waiter approaches with trepidation for fear of falling in and drowning in her sadness. In her eyes are pools of cabernet spilled from glasses cast aside by retreating lovers, the blood of a mother who died in her birth, tears of a father hopelessly alone. You see him returning to the table and a smile of faint hope crosses her lips, lingers a moment and is drawn into her eyes. She watches him finish his wine and with a nod of his head, hers, and she sinks back deep within herself.
First appeared in Erothanatos, Vol. 3, No. 3, July 2019 at Pg. 41
They hide in corners, and you think you can see them, but you cannot be certain for they are vague and could be no more than wishes, but belief is sufficient. As you grow older, the number of corners grow and a universe of but eight corners is now itself tucked in a corner of memory. One corner hides the face of the man who adopted me, watched for two years, before departing suddenly, and the only item I have is his diploma rolled up in a tube where my own accomplishments are rolled. In another corner the day I met the man I now call father is so deeply buried only his present, increasingly absent aging face is all I can see. Memories are elusive, appearing and disappearing without warning day by day the oldest evanesce and that corner is filled by another memory grown vague.
I speak to my father every week or so our conversations are as long as ever but we are rapidly becoming little more than a skipping record. He mostly recalls my name and the various parts one with the other of us has had rebuilt but even that is quickly slipping into the fog that is rapidly settling over him and we both know of the one part for which there is no repair or replacement.
Tomorrow I will lie to him will tell him when he asks, at least the first ten times he he does, that she is doing fine, that she is a tough old bird, that she’ll outlive us all, that she’s a Taurus, the bull and he will remember the end of their marriage, the Battle Royal that was the war of divorce, and he will smile a bit, and say, “I miss her,” and I will agree with him. I do miss her a bit, but even two and a half years of death have not grown the size of my missing appreciably. We will move on to other topics, will circle back and rerun the tape for with him every day is a series of scenes from Groundhog Day, but in his world, it never snows.
He often comes to me in dreams. In most he is faceless, but intently present, speaking in a voice I instantly know, nothing like mine and totally mine. On occasion his face appears, blurred, as if seen through a scrim, back-lit, vague, an actor in some film I have seen, but yet not that person, that character. For a while I saw my own face, but I knew that was just my wishful mind filling in a gap which has yet to be filled, knowing that it likely never will.