Friday, June 19, 2009

Mi Hija Loca

The phone rang this morning at 5:46. “Are you awake?” Is what I here upon answering. I grumble something about having to wake up to answer the phone. “Well can you pick me up at the Super 8 motel and bring me to Whitehouse?” I grumble something else about answering the damn phone to a strange number, and the reply I get is “Well the @$%&*%^%$ phone charger is a %(*&^%$$ car charger and the…” I stop the chatter coming through this miracle of technology that permits me unification with the larger world wherever I go as long as I pay both homage and stipend to the Gods of AT&T. I inform the contributor of this unneeded information that I will be along in about 45 minutes and to look out for my truck.

There is this young lady that is in my life that seems to think that our relationship, as evidenced by this morning’s telephone communiqué, is most effective when she wakes me up in the middle of the night. This being my vacation time, 5:46 AM is the latter part of the middle of the night. She is my daughter. She gets to do this because she is my daughter. I think she enjoys it. I think maybe I do too.

This whirlwind of nocturnal hustle and bustle came into my life approximately six years ago. I watched her walk into one of the twelve step meetings I attend with this biker who had started to come to my meeting. This pair has become the two most important people in my life. Him because he is the most decent and loving friend a man could have, and she because that day she latched onto my heart and has eradicated any thought within her that might even come close to telling her to let it go.

I remember seeing her that day and several days later, in the company of my ICE-2. One of the wonders of modern technology is the idea that one can put the phone number of the next of kin or person to contact in case of emergency in your cell phone address book, and if you are hurt and/or unconscious, whoever is giving you aid can notify the appropriate party. My Deifiúr is naturally the first to be called, and this gray haired old biker is the next to be notified, hence the ICE-2. It was this man that really put mi hija into my life.

She was this 17 year old, nearly feral, street kid. She has long red hair, and almost emaciated body, and a set of eyes that would and still drill straight into someone’s soul, making them instantly fall hopelessly head over heels in love. She knew this and was apparently well versed at using it to her advantage. She promptly began raping and pillaging her way through the younger guys in the group, taking hostages of the heart with the ease of the great Irish pirate queen Grace O’Malley.

I recall the first time we ever spoke. She walked (strode would be a better description) up to me and situated herself in front of me with her hands on her hips in anticipation of incarcerating my attention and whatever amount of my day she deemed necessary. She had on a blue miniskirt, tennis shoes with the little socks that barely reach her ankles, and a blouse with a slit down the front low enough to flaunt a generous amount of cleavage. On the stomach of the shirt was an arrow pointing up and the words “Hey, I’m up here.”

When asked why she would wear something like that, her reply was, “So that guys will look at my boobs.” She flashed an evil grin, and forced me to hug her. Well, not so much forced, as established that we would henceforth show affection for each other, by holding me in an unbreakable grip. Not, that is, that I wished to ever let go.

In the ensuing six years we have accumulated scores of adventures, encounters, episodes, events, incidents, ordeals, tests, trials, and tribulations ranging in all the emotional spectrum that can happen between a fifty something year old man and a maniac teenaged girl. I’ve spent many hours driving to, or driving her from, trailer houses located on the back roads of the county we live in. I, at one time, knew where all the drug dealers resided who live in trailer homes in that same county. Not exactly a necessary skill set that one of my advanced time in a drug recovery program should find it necessary to possess. As many miles as I drove that many fast food meals I provided her. For a while, she became a roommate and it was during that time that she became my daughter. She came out of yet another trailer house in the country, this time in pretty bad shape, and sat on my couch wishing she had a home. I offered her one, and she accepted.

As my dear departed Uncle Buddy taught me, women are crazy, especially seventeen year old street girls. All of a sudden I had these wannabe thug kids wearing khaki pants slung down to their knees in the back, “wife beater” t-shirts, and hip hop caps worn either backwards or askew coming to the door night and day. Sleepless nights wondering if she is going to come home, and whether or not she is getting beaten, defiled, or held hostage. She yelled at me when I asked her what she was doing, and would stomp off to her room and refuse to speak to me. And then came the pièce de résistance, she got pregnant while I was on a business trip.

I was accused of fathering the baby, even though I was in a completely different time zone when it happened. We fought; she moved out, had the baby and I became her father as she became my daughter. She became the light of my life, and I became her ICE. Not an altogether bad place to be in someone’s life…especially if you love them as I love her. Especially, you see, if you get to thank God for the opportunity to love and protect her, with all my heart and all my soul. Just like William J. Smith taught me.

Why am I so cheerful about this loss of sleep and rest? Because I asked God if I could see her for my birthday, which happens this Sunday and he said yes. Also because we spoke, and laughed, and told each other things that are going on in our lives, and hugged each other as if we were never going to see each other again. And because she told me she loved me. Have a good day Stacie. Te Amo Mía


Thursday, June 18, 2009


This was the reply Brigadier General Anthony Clement McAuliffe gave in reply to a message from the German commander at the Siege of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. Certainly, I know this as a part of what history, accurate or not, I learned in school. Yet this information came to me much sooner then my 10th grade World History class. This bit of lore was passed on to me by my favorite person in all of History…my Uncle Buddy.

Today is the anniversary of his birth. I have written a number of times on this most beloved kinsperson. Perhaps one might have read about him on my other locations on the World Wide Web. Perhaps, you have been privy to the many tales I impart of my relationship with this most gentle of men. It is of little import to me where and when, or even if you have never been acquainted with William J. Smith. I am thinking of him today and missing him.

He held a significant place in my life in that he was the man in my life who wanted me. For one reason or another, my father wished no connection with me other then that which my Dear Sainted Mother forced on him. It was Uncle Buddy who taught me those things a man needs to learn. He taught me that if I read many books, I would know many things. He taught me how to spit, a useful trait for a man to have, he said. I remember riding with him in his station wagon as we rambled about on various adventures, and watching him spit out the window without getting any on him, and knocking the ash off a cigarette with his pinky finger. Both, to this day, are necessary and manly activities that I still practice.

He taught me that it wasn’t my father’s fault that he didn’t want me, it was just the way he was. He taught me that the world had many things in it, and that I would have to figure a bunch of it out on my own. He taught me that women were, in general, crazy. He also taught me that it was the most noble and honorable thing in the world to love and protect the women in my life with all my heart and all my soul. A duty I wish I were better at.

I remember talking to him about being a paratrooper. He told me that he volunteered to be a paratrooper because he did not want to go overseas on a transport ship. The only problem was that in the 1940’s there were no troop transport planes that could make it across the Atlantic Ocean. His stories usually came by way of funny, or what seemed funny, reminiscences of duty off the front lines. I knew he jumped on D-Day. I know he was at Bastogne at Christmas the same year. I also know he liberated a concentration camp.

Uncle Buddy suffered from the same affliction as do I. I have been blessed with the gift of recovery. He did not have that available to him. He was Irish-Catholic which pretty much meant that he went to work, and came home and got drunk. I remember having a discussion with my Dear Sainted Mother where she told me that when he came back from the war, he spent the first 24 hours sitting at my grandmothers table, weeping uncontrollably. He would get “commode-hugging” drunk and as the years progressed, became a burden on the family. I remember asking him during one of those jaunts about town we would take, when I was thirteen, why he drank so much. He thought for a minute, and told me the entire story. He told me of liberating the concentration camp, the icy cold at Bastogne, the horror of D-Day, and about the dreams. He told me that he would have terrible nightmares at night if he didn’t get drunk. He came from a generation that did not believe in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They called if “shell-shocked” and half the time people with that ailment were considered cowards. I also remember, that despite his memories, the day he told me that he was proud of me for joining the U.S. Army.

He made me promise not to tell anyone, and I didn’t until after his death. The only one I told then was my Deifiúr, Paula. She will read this, and probably shed tears similar to those leaking down my face. I am not the only one whose favorite person was William J. Smith.

He would have been 89 today. He would have wanted me to take a ride with him in a station wagon. He would have wanted to sit on a chaise lounge reading a book and giving my Deifiúr lessons on the proper method of diving into a swimming poll from a diving board. I think he would have just wanted to be here, or perhaps I am just missing him. So, here’s to you Uncle Buddy and all the rest of those “Battered Bastards of Bastogne”…Happy Birthday!