“I know that it’s over, but I can’t discover a way to erase how I feel
I remember the nights and the passionate fights
And I know that I love you and I always will…”
Thought Of You – John Denver
Laying in his hospital bed with an oxygen hose protruding from his nose he knowing the end was close at hand waved goodbye as he motioned for us to go. The news we wanted to give him surely would have gladdened his weakened heart. Before I became engrossed in my next workday a feeling of dread or perhaps a premonition that something bad was about to occur draped over me as a gray rain cloud would hand low in the sky. My phone rang with a quivering voice on the other end of the call informing me that it was over. His last breath had been drawn while the pupils of his brown eyes disappeared officially concluding his time on earth. Now he will rest underneath neatly trimmed lush green grass where droplets of water collect and shine on.
A gold band that never left his finger until the moment his soul released itself from his body signified the unbreakable bond between husband and wife was handed over to me whereupon I placed it on my then skinny finger where it has remained lo these many years later. My fingers have thickened the result of which in turn sealed the ring in its place where it shall be.
One life ends as another begins in its own right with the unification of a man and a woman now known as Mr. Mrs. aka man and wife. It was now up to us to hold it together when the storms of family strife would suddenly make its unceremonious entrance to take a undeterminable toll by way of ripping away of the thread s that ran through our collective veins. More years of stress and strife would soon follow along.
Nothing could ever seem right. Nothing it seemed was destined to go right. A young boy born to us just as we made everything official became the spark that fanned the flames of jealousy, outrage, indignation, and disgust. We stormed off in the bleak blackened sky brimming with rage and hatred for one another. To the delight of the bricklayers who put the foundation of failure in place a celebration of being wrecking balls that so effortlessly laid to ruin what once was but perhaps should never have been.
The recurring thoughts of perhaps just perhaps it should never had been in the first place haunted us, tormented us until….. it was time to turn left to the poorly paved parking lot get in my Navy Blue Buick put the antenna on the roof ultimately to drive away. My final destination was not of my own decision as traffic crawled on the Grand Central Parkway until just past the rusted metal train Tressel before the newly renovated Jamaica Center Plaza. I swerved suddenly to the right to get on the Van Wyck Expressway past the graveyard on the hill in Kew Gardens where I wanted to be buried. Having driven past there so many times on so many occasions I felt it was the fitting end to be the end.
I allowed a smile to cease my face as I cruised past Flushing Meadow Park where the pedal boats were anchored. It was the same spot where my friend launched a properly inflated soccer ball to the other side that was about a quarter-mile length from where lift-off commenced. Adjacent to that was the parking lot where the New York City Sanitation Department not so subtly built these 6-foot high snow mountains. No, my fathers flake green that I “borrowed” from dad while he snored away in bed (I always hated the color green especially when it was as I called it snot green) four-door Dodge Dart could not climb that hill, not even if we tried going up backward as gas pedal was practically jammed through the floor from being pushed down so hard on. Yes, those were the days before. Those days would never come again as I one day got on the Belt Parkway to Exit 13 where it would begin and end for me.
The purple bike with the unsteady training wheels that cracked were an annoyance to me as who rides a bicycle in an apartment. Those who stood and sat in the presence of this display of stupidity saw nothing wrong.
The purple bike with the unsteady training wheels that cracked were an annoyance to me as who rides a bicycle in an apartment. Those who stood and sat in the presence of this display of stupidity saw nothing wrong. The little girl with that gapped tooth smile pitted me against them as only she could. For sure a warning of bigger battles that were yet to come.
Back and fro together and apart and then together again only to part until the next reunion. This sad sack soap opera had me as one of its main characters as the original main character/leading man was banished forever. When would it ever end as I was tired of this non-stop nonsense as the merry-go-round went around and around? The painted ceramic white steed horses had more than their share of the melodrama that its non-functional ears could bear so in protest (or so it seemed) they steadfastly refused to move vertically on their poles. The gray-suited ticket taker unenthusiastically went about his job of ripping up the ride tickets so as to prevent them from being used again was perfectly oblivious to complaints about the horses from this family who doused all friends and foes with their venom that was shot all over the place.
Was this going to be the reality we both wanted or were we just plain stuck? Sick stuck ripe with anger that throbbed in our heads would soon be bombarded by the self-appointed judges and jury of all things us. One Judge/Jury member was escorted out of the residence by a skinny security guard until she was safely on the other side of the colorless wrought iron door. Alas, there were more of them each awaiting the opportunity to throw a punch. What stopped them I’ll never know but they all did eventually leave. A calm tense air mass hung in the air which was all that remained from the smothering cinderblock of out of control emotions.
Had there been considerable contemplations of what the landscape of our lives would look like then contemplating not starting or freezing things so they would not spread could have been considered. It was duly noted that I was not who they thought I was even though I was never any different from the image their eyes trained themselves on me. Here I was going from one extreme to the other with echoes of doubt reverberating all around me. The sounds I heard where not from the music I loved to listen but voices of expectations of all they wanted me to be without considering the soul that dwelled within me.
“And the leaves that are green turn to brown
And they wither with the wind
And they crumble in your hand
Once my heart was filled with the love of a girl
I held her close, but she faded in the night
Hello, hello, hello, hello, good-bye
Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye
That’s all there is… “
Leaves That Are Green – Paul Simon
We married our misfortunes together witnessed by a close friend who would become our enemy. No, the lovely little daughter whose effervescent personality at such a young age was something beautiful to behold only for her to be cunningly ripped away. My talent for thinking buckled under the weight of the pressure as if I were a tire with air thrusting into me. There was my stomach, churning, yearning while desperately trying to destroy itself from the inside. As my mother (of blessed memory) would always say “what was it I was going to say? what more can I say” My retort was what can I say as whatever I say is no good anyway?
There were no shortages of smiles crossing over bridges or standing still on the street as the back window on the big brown station wagon was lowered and raised based on semi-serious questions or mathematical calculations that were supposed to be done by rote in your head never worked that way. I am only doing what the Principal demonstrated to do. Tears of pride and joy during and after plays and on graduation days. It always seemed to be “he” was there to cast a stare or a glare just before he would dare to do what he had always done best to unsettle and upset exiting on stage right with that yellow-toothed smile.