Monday, November 2, 2009

Reminders Of Our Mortality

This weekend, on consecutive mornings, I was given a reminder of all of our mortality, as I read in The Advocate Obituaries of the passing of two different people who had impacted my life, and who were close to the ages of my own parents. One of them was the school vice-principal at my high school. While he was feared as a disciplinarian by some kids....(most notably, those lacking discipline), the truth is, he was a dedicated and effective educator, the kind that most any of us would probably, whether we want to admit it or not, would like our own children to benefit from having guide them through high school. Rest in peace Mr. Moore. The other was a man that as a 12 year old, I was around as a friend of his son, one of my classmates. I remember his love of music, hunting, fishing, and most anything outdoors. I remember sitting around his house, listening to his boys and him play guitars and fiddles - probably the first place I ever heard one of my all time favorite songs, "The Orange Blossom Special". I remember that he was a pretty good boat builder, and even built a canoe for the Water Safari one year. Can't recall whether it was ever used, but his buddy Butch actually won the race a year or two afterward. I remember his arrowhead collection, and how he actually learned or taught himself, using only flint and a deer antler, to make dead replica native American type arrowheads.

I must say though that he was a local lawman, with a real hatred of hippies, longhairs, and anybody that fell into that category, which in my teen and later years, put me on the opposite side of the fence from him. Needless to say, he will also be remembered, as a person who made the lives of a few young people quite miserable at every opportunity he had, and that for many years, I had a horrible grudge and resentment for some of the indignities, that I and others suffered at his hand.

I had to tell you that, to tell you this. Given the choice of remembering an ill tempered, and unjust, misguided redneck, (not at all unlike the one that raised me), or a good father, who was eager to share his love of music and the outdoors with his sons and their friends, well I just chose remembering the former as opposed to the latter. I will on occasion, run into his oldest son at breakfast, and shake hands and exchange howdys, and I must say that despite the fact that he and I grew up worlds apart, from what I have heard and read of him, he turned out to be quite an outdoors expert and pioneer sort and a good man. I am sure his dad would be quite proud of him. Rest in peace Jack. I appreciate the things you showed and taught me as a boy, and as far as the grief and crap you heaped upon me as a rebel teen....that is all forgiven. I do wish though that I had had a chance to show up at your bedside with my thinning ponytail and grey beard, and have been able to tell you that in person.

As I said, these serve as a couple of things to remind me of my own mortality, and that I need to make a few things right with those in my life. I am reminded weekly of that as well, when I go home to see my folks. Dad is sneaking up on 90, and is frail, but getting by. Mom on the other hand, though years younger, is as likely to recognize me when I walk through the door, as her brother, her dad, or the bus driver who's come to take her to school as she is to see her oldest son walk in the door. Life is cruel sometimes, and sometimes, I think it all should be played in reverse.........


Sugar Magnolia said...

What a frank, honest, and heartfelt look at yourself and those who impacted your life throughout the years. I imagine we would all like to live in reverse, just once, to be able to apply wisdom gained to situations past. If only we could give our former selves a good talking to and (assuming we would have listened; I don't know about you, but I was so hard-headed I doubt any of it would have sunk in) figured out life early on. Alas, that is not the way life works out, and we are left with baggage, regrets, and wishful thinking.

I do believe the men you mentioned, as well as your dear parents, would have been and are proud of the head-strong youth you were and the man you have become. Something just tells me that although maybe you didn't turn out to be the dude you thought you would, you became the man you needed to be.

Edith Ann said...

Sugar Magnolia said it very well. How kind of you to remember these men with these wonderful stories.

Why is it we have to be so old when we figure this stuff out?

And what can I say about a guy who is buried by a guy named Poodle with Butch and Bubba as pall bearers? We should all wish to be so lucky! Sounds very fitting for the character you describe.

No need to live life in reverse. It goes in a full circle, if we're lucky.

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