Saturday, August 27, 2011


It is well past midnight and I am sitting at my instrument of enlightenment with a melancholy circling my head that needs to be addressed. I am thinking about my Dear Sainted Mother. It is four years and six months since she went to live with Jesus and His Mother. I think of her every day and have yet to fill the hole in my heart. I have not been able to put any more words on the page to tell you about her. I could not for Mother’s Day, or her birthday. My Deifiúr and I make sure that we call each other and talk about her. I am going to cry myself to sleep tonight and that is not a bad thing. I am not depressed and I am not trying to be morose. Well maybe a little, after all, I am not using any big words tonight. I am not trying to be verbally clever. I am just telling you that I miss my Mommy. That is what I called her till the day she died. That is the word I use at night when I ask God to watch over her. That is the way I can tell the difference between her and the legend that she was.

What follows is a repost from another web page I have. It truly expresses how I am feeling right now:

I’ve learned

“That I wish I could have told my Mom that I love her one more time before she passed away.” This is a piece of wisdom that I received in an e-mail the other day. It came to me while I was in class. The students were reading and writing (as any good English student should be) and the secretary came in and told me that I had, somehow, not posted all my grades. Well, I had to drag my posterior end over to the computer and enter into combat within the electronic realm. While there I checked my e-mail to see if some editor had received the benefit of my prayers and yielded to the actuality that I AM the next great literary sensation.

What I received for my efforts was a message from a dear friend of mine of a Cajun cultural influence. It was a rather extensive list of the thing that one will learn if pursuing a righteous life. I’ve read the same list many time before, yet, it teaches me something each time it circles through my life. Given who sent it this time I felt it germane to pay it heed. My Cajun friend is wise beyond the century plus years that is between us.

As I read through these words of wisdom, I found myself stopping at the word “Mom.” As many of you know, I lost my Dear Sainted Mother almost two years ago. In the intervening time span I have spent a significant amount of time mourning her. I have found myself with (still!) an empty part of my day at three o’clock in the afternoon. This represents the time I would call her…right after school on my way home. I would drive and try to hear what she was saying as she told me the latest news. You know, what the cousins were up to, who pissed her off that day, the state of health of my relatives of her generation who were still alive. I cling to this activity for just cause. At the end of every conversation we had a ritual where I would say “I love you Mommy”, and she would say “I love you too My Timmy.”

I miss that so much it hurts. I sit in my classroom, weeping and hoping that the kids aren’t watching. Not that seeing me cry is necessarily a bad thing, it is just that I have somewhat of an image to maintain here and, as I have said before, these are not necessarily “Going My Way” kids. But wait…one of them is getting up…walking to my desk…he sees before I can turn around…crap! I expect it to become a major issue where he asks me as loud as he can, “Why are you crying Mr. T?” I sit in dread while waiting for the entire class to join in.

He doesn’t say a word. He walks around my desk and gives me a hug and tells me that sometimes he needs to cry when everybody is looking. He tells me it’s hard to stop once it starts, and he doesn’t like the other kids make fun of him. He whispers in my ear that he loves me, and returns to his seat.

All of a sudden it’s 1962. I’m running from the bus stop while sobbing uncontrollably. I run into the house and throw myself into my mother’s arms. She rocks me and tells me “it’s okay my Timmy. Tell me what happened.” That’s who I was all my life to her. “My Timmy.” She rocks me and softly whispers to me… “ ssshhhuusshh, Tell me what happened.”

Senior citizen that I am, I can not remember the incident or action that felicitated this petit mal. I do remember that after my eyes dried we went through the routine…“I love you Mommy”, “I love you too My Timmy.” After that it was ice cream time. “Got a little heartburn…you?” This last comment represented another childhood ritual, but I’ll leave for another page.

The bell rings and it is suddenly my conference period. Let the teardrops begin! Would that it could be. Now I face a file of kids coming in and getting one last taste of me for the day. This one is sorry for his behavior and won’t do it again. The next wants to raid my empty candy drawer. Another wants to know how to graduate early. I accept the apology, give out my last Hershey’s kiss, and tell the last one that domestic farmyard animals will circumnavigate the solar system before he graduates if he doesn’t hand in that one page essay I gave him three days ago.
Somehow I feel better. I get the test I need copying and my grade book and go to the office. Sitting and crying just isn’t the same without someone to hold you while you weep and say “sshhhuusshh, tell me what happened.”

I walk down the hall and suddenly I’m in that room in the hospital. I lean down to kiss her forehead and she jumps. She asks me what I am doing. I tell her and she asks for a kiss. Then comes the last words we ever spoke to each other…“I love you Mommy”, “I love you too My Timmy.”

Oh how I wish I could say it again.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Caves of the Thousand Butt-heads

Well, I solved the problem of what next to read. I closed my eyes and chose the first thing my hand found. It is real bonafide shoot-em-up CIA let’s chase the terrorist bastards and kill them dead dead dead from a guy that specializes in bonafide shoot-em-up CIA let’s chase the terrorist bastards and kill them dead dead dead books. It reads well and the story flows and it should take about thirteen minutes to finish. This is not to say that the piece is of small value, it is just fodder for the canon that is my reading ability. I haven’t gone very far into this literary regularpiece (sure a made up word, but I could not think of a word to describe a book like this that wasn’t insulting) when it occurred to me that it was at the keyboard I belonged.

I was particularly drawn to a portion of a daily meditation from Fr. Richard Rohr this morning. "The terms “right” and “left” came from the Estates General in France. It’s interesting that now we use them as our basic political terms. On the left sat the ordinary people, on the right sat the nobility and the clergy! (What were the clergy doing over there?!) I think you see the pattern.” For some reason it spoke to me sharply. My first thought was that I am glad, and sad to be universally sitting on the left side of the theater. Not really a democrat, but resoundingly not a republican. The humor in this right and left discussion comes in the reality of the separation of the parties and their perspective agendas. There is a feeling that the left has the common man in mind as they govern and the right is there for the Fortune 500. My speculation goes to the ideal that if you are in government at a representative or higher position then you are definitely sitting on the right. The average American wage is $40,000 per year while the average elected figure in the federal government makes more than four times that much. Money is, after all, what separates us into classes. Sounds like an elite crowd to me.

I would be prone to give these guys (and gals) a break, even my common man folks in the Democratic Party if they were even trying to look out for the common man. Watch C-span some time and see if they don’t look like a bunch of over-educated butt heads trying to impress someone while they eat in fine restaurants and take bribes from PAC’s and Lobbyists that increase their salaries exponentially. Does anyone realize that when a member of congress retires after a certain amount of years they are allowed to keep what is in their campaign funds? With a presidential election going for close to or more than $100,000,000 one can only imagine how much theses buttheads are skimming off the American Bottom Line.

And we are on the verge of a financial crisis every minute of every day.

There is a place in the Gansu Province of China called the Caves of the Thousand of Buddhas. It has been said in local legend, that in AD 366 a Buddhist monk had a vision of a thousand Buddha’s which inspired the excavation of the caves he envisioned. The number of temples eventually grew to more than a thousand. Buddhist monks collected scriptures from the west and pilgrims passing through the area painted murals inside the caves. The cave paintings and architecture served as aids to meditation, as visual representations of the quest for enlightenment, as mnemonic devices, and as teaching tools to inform illiterate Chinese about Buddhist beliefs and stories. (Thank you Wikipedia)

I propose that our right sided population in the Nation’s Capital visit this location and, perhaps, absorb some of the spirit of the place and take it back to Washington. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen. There would be all the folderol associated with a “Congressional Fact Finding Mission” and the banquets and photo ops and the speeches and the junk associated with sitting on the right side. Remember now, my proposition that all member of congress are sitting on the right. Is there a way out? Is there a way to bring this mess we call a reality to some kind of visible ending? Perhaps it would be if Congress, instead of crawling into the Caves of the Thousand Buttheads which is our nation’s capital, were to heed the words of the Buddha:

“As a mother would risk her life
to protect her child, her only child,
even so should one cultivate a limitless heart
with regard to all beings.
With good will for the entire cosmos,
cultivate a limitless heart:
Above, below, & all around,
unobstructed, without hostility or hate.
Whether standing, walking,
sitting, or lying down,
as long as one is alert,
one should be resolved on this mindfulness.
This is called a sublime abiding
here & now.”


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Arcane Adventure

I was sitting on the throne in the water closet of my literary lair when it came to me…I have just read the second best book in my entire life. This is not a circumstance of triviality given the amount of reading I engage in. I have inherited a trait from my Dear Departed Uncle Buddy. He read voraciously and was the most intelligent person in the cosmos. The family used to joke that he would read matchbook covers if nothing else was available. I have followed in his footsteps and read every word I can get my eyes on. Reading originally inspired me to want to write. Reading brought me to the point where I intruded on your day by asking (well maybe demanding, but that’s another page) you to read the musings in front of you. Reading is the method I use to bring myself closer to the world outside my Sanctum. And finally, reading is the avenue I take on my way to a better understanding of the Lord God Almighty as he chooses to be a presence in my life.

The tome I am referring to is a magnificent piece of historical fiction written by Ken Follet entitled “Fall of Giants.” It is the story of a number of families from different backgrounds and their experience in World War I. I call this the second best book I have ever read but that is a misnomer. My favorite is “Pillars of the Earth” by the same author. The sequel to this book “World Without End” is also a must read if you read the first and, as such, is the same book in my mind.

I have a love of history and the general flavor of most history books leaves one dry and thirsty for more. In the case of a historical fiction there is a personalization to the great events in our past that speaks to me. Most of what we here about history is probably fiction in the first place. Realistically, there are no first hand witnesses to much of what happened many years ago, and when we do encounter first-hand accounts, those are usually infused with more personal opinion then actualities. A good historical fiction author takes that part of the story that has endured and gives it a face.

I like talking to a dear friend of mine about Vietnam. He was there twice and considering we were both in the army around the same time, it makes sense to me in the context of my own personal experiences. I loved talking to my Dear Sainted Mother about World War II. I remember being taught about the “Rosey the Riveter” women from that war in history class. My Màthair was one. My favorite story from her was how she was fired from a job at a cigarette factory for throwing cigarettes out the back window to the hobos by the train tracks behind her factory. History became alive for me when I talked to her or my uncles and aunts.

So the issue I am now dealing with is what is next. I am still living in the glow of a better understanding of the “War to end all wars”, and an appreciation of the complexity that went into that famous catastrophe. What is the next book that I chose from the stack on my table? Is it the latest from an author whose main character is a “symbologist”, or a telling of the ancient origins of the leprechaun? The issue is that I do not want to exasperate myself. What is the answer? Do I let this one sit and ruminate? That only denies me the magic that is available in that action of reading. That denies me the stimulation I need to dazzle you with words. What to do? Perhaps I can let go of expectations and just close my eyes and pick one.

Short page today. It looks like I have some questions to answer that cannot be found at the keyboard. It is my eyes that must do the labor. What is a “symbologist” anyway?