On Being AWOL: End of an Era in Pau

The second contributory fact for my 80 day absence was the premature closure of Mr P’s family house in PauMr P’s aged aunt’s health had deteriorated  to a stage where she needed more in-depth care than his equally elderly mother could provide.

We have always been aware that this situation would arrive in the near future — but were caught napping when it rapidly loomed upon us out of the blue and we had to take a dash to France.

Finding a suitable nursing home for elderly people is difficult at the best of times — finding one that accepts patients with Alzheimer’s, and provides compassionate understanding care for them, is even worse. Luckily, we had the help of one of Mr P’s brothers who took care of most of that for us . A deal was struck he would sort out their aunt and we would sort out their mother.

A suitable residence was found for their aunt, not far from where the brother’s family lives — which would enable him to visit her whenever he went to see his daughter and granddaughter.

We then had the task of packing up mother and her possessions and returning her to the apartment in Lisbon.

Continue reading → On Being AWOL: End of an Era in Pau

Oedipus Resurrecting: A Mother Stealing a Dead Son's Sperm

While we are alive, we are free to do what we choose and live with the consequences of our actions. After we have passed away, we would hope that it would not be possible to have choices about our future life made for us. This is precisely why it always bothers me when books are published after the passing of authors — particularly when the author requests that his notebooks be burned after his passing.

Continue reading → Oedipus Resurrecting: A Mother Stealing a Dead Son's Sperm

The Decider: When a Father Fails a Son

There is no greater crushing experience — or necessary duty — than when a father must tell a son he is not good enough; he does not measure up; he is not the man he was born to be:

FATHER: I know you tried, but you did not make the football team.

SON: But Dad! I went to every practice! I did my best! I did everything you and the coach asked.

FATHER: Yes, you did everything you could but it wasn’t enough, son. There are other boys who play ball better than you. You just don’t have the talent. I’m sorry.

SON: You lied to me! You told me I could do anything I wanted if I only tried!

FATHER: You just aren’t good enough to play football but that doesn’t mean we can’t try something else.

Continue reading → The Decider: When a Father Fails a Son

The Fiddle in the Field and the Drum of War

The great Canadian singer and songwriter Joni Mitchell wrote a powerful song in 1969 when she was 26 years old called The Fiddle and the Drum. Joni wrote the song as a concerned friend of the United States and now, nearly forty years later, her words still ring and sting with a righteous vengeance as exampled in this pointed excerpt:

You say I have turned
Like the enemies you’ve earned

But I can remember

All the good things you are

And so I ask you please

Can I help you find the peace and the star

Oh, my friend
What time is this

To trade the handshake for the fist

And so once again

Oh, America my friend

And so once again

You are fighting us all

And when we ask you why

You raise your sticks and cry and we fall

Oh, my friend

How did you come

To trade the fiddle for the drum

The magic of Mitchell’s music is how it can bend time and force remembrance.
And so once again we are all transfixed as she pulls the lessons of 1969 forward under our noses in 2006.
And so once again we are all left wondering how we came to give up our love of the sound of the fiddle after harvest in exchange for the booming drum of war beating across nations far from our fields at home.

My Son, My Son

by Joyce Kohl

“I don’t know any of you people. . . ” was the heart-wrenching start of a speech from my son to his immediate family near the end of an old-fashioned Christmas party in 1997. We had all gathered at my son’s request. He wanted all of us to give him some memories. He needed authentic memories, not related stories, to share with siblings and his parents.

Continue reading → My Son, My Son

Mark

by Alma Johnson

Mark –
I see the sunrise through
your eyes –
the birds singing your song.
The trees whispering –
your name – in my heart.
The wind howling your pain,
and now mine.
Continue reading → Mark