I'll explain that pessimistic title just read by you, my gentle reader. My father passed away on this day a year ago; in 2011, August the 8th fell on a Monday. I understand Mondays are a bad day for health outcomes determined by blood pressure. My father stroked in the morning and didn't survive the ambulance ride to Owosso Memorial Hospital. Why the picture of Abraham Lincoln? One of my first impressions of my father is he looked like Abraham Lincoln. How I was aware of Honest Abe's face before my father's face would probably require an interview with my mother, who is now living fairly happily in assisted living in Hazel Park. My mother never minded Hazel Park, never looked at Hazel Park as being a lesser suburb. Wouldn't find any irony in hearing it called Hazel Tuckey.
I realize my father was my connection to the world of manhood. Up to my twenty-fifth year, I could see any doctor or specialist or enter any emergency room without a copay or even a bill. He worked for General Motors, and the UAW had negotiated the best benefits known to man. I might have a job that pays more, but I'll never be able to buy health benefits that matched his. He was the man who took me to camp, Camp Tapico, five years in a row until I was accepted on the staff and could make my way up their myself. I remember I decided to float around on styrofoam blocks once when I was supposed to be packing up camp and he bellowed at me. Bellowing was fine because he was harmless when it came to spankings or slappings. He wasn't a physically abusive or violent man. When I was making my way to substitute teaching jobs, and my battery ran low, it was him who came out on the Lansing Post Road and gave me a jump. He was a totally annoyed asshole about it, really short with me, but he got me rolling and I got to Durand where I could get the alternator replaced. I still owe him money, whatever is twenty years of interest on two grand after no payments had been made. And he never asked me for it. I helped him with the business he had with mother for free many times a year. I took Mother and he out for dinner every other Sunday for the last ten years of his life. None of that counts as any kind of repayment. Sometimes I took him out for dinner by himself, just him and I. And he would leave rather abruptly. There's only one or two causes for a man leaving the table that abruptly, and I suspect it was one of them.
I have made a list of remembered moments, and I suppose I could built them out into a story. My mother has no talent for talking about past moments in any kind of narrative. He wasn't given to keeping a journal as he could barely spell. He had collections of black and white photographs he took during his life before he began raising children. He didn't continue the habit afterwards. He did drive to me about photography and drove me to school on Tuesday nights where I learned to develop film and work in the darkroom. I had the use of the yearbook camera and loved to walk around taking shots, but no one trained me how to take shots of people or people living out a scene. I remember he allowed me to talk on the citizen band radio when we drove to Durand, often for no obvious reason. I have to wonder why my mother made him take me along.
I take notes on a sheet of paper most days and then fold it up to add to a collection of sheets on my table. This is my life. Dreams. Details. Projects. One day, I'll write them all down. I have been seeing oak galls on the road under certain oak trees, not all of them. The first one looked so juicy with red juice, I looked around for a cherry tree dropping its fruit. This morning, I bicycled to work from the Muskegon Heights transfer center, and I encountered a crushed polecat, a black and white skunk, in the roadkill, and that dead skunk had released all of its stink from its crushed stink glands. I saw a drizzled path of blood near the railroad tracks, as if a person had bled from a profuse nose bleed. I looked up at a building and it had a Jurkas for Sheriff billboard on its wall, a billboard for a primary the day before. Who will tell Jurkas that the full uniform with badge is okay. However, wearing the policeman's hat makes him hard to identify and even harder to like? I had dirtied my pen pocket on my shirt when I loaded my bicycle on the bike rack. A woman's bicycle in pink had taken the first position on the bike rack, and two men were on the bus when I boarded. The bike remained on the rack when the two men and I got off. The Marine Corp League had opened a detachment in Muskegon Heights near the social lodges. A few days ago, I was biking west on Broadway and a man drinking from a bottle of Fiji Water was shouting at a woman in yellow who was walking south on Waalkes Street. "There's a warrant out for your arrest, bitch! The police are going to come and lock up your ass". I counted one pejorative and one case of metonymy. I saw open wide doors at what might be a new manufacturing facility south of the Strand Theater. The wide doors are screened against people walking in and people walking out with work in process. I passed by election signs in the grassy strip by the sidewalk, near where the overhead lift company once had a manufacturing concern. A fellow is driving around the city picking up all those signs and buying inventories because the wire has use for bailing hay or another agricultural use.
A woman in an orange dress couldn't find her favorite item on the menu, so she ordered a fish sandwich. A woman with freckles will be returning to Western State University in two weeks, and she sold her the fish sandwich. A woman came to the counter at the new smokehouse restaurant on Sherman and said the smokehouse had no barbecue to sell yet. At Frosty Oasis, a woman in a green shirt sold me two hot dogs and her trainer, also in a green shirt, stopped the register from ringing, alerting all to an error condition. A grandmother brought her grand-daughter, almost old enough to vote, to the polls in a minivan. A woman bought fresh contacts at Walmart, and smiled at a man, raising crow's feet around her eyes. A woman went shopping at Walmart wearing a Baker College tee shirt. Two sisters arrived with children, the two sisters wearing Hershey's chocolate tee shirts. A woman picked up a huge pack of liquid Advil because her pain keeps her from falling to sleep at night.
In a dream, I have a hundy in my wallet, and I am held up in a lonely corner by a woman with a pair of stylist shears in each hand. In another scene, I am supine in a bunk bed at a camp, looking down a dewy hill at a lake, the grass growing on sand. Artsy kids were attending this camp, and I think I was the camp director. And that's all that was memorable of the dream when I awoke and chose to ignore it until later.
This is why I ignore my notes. I have torn up the yellow sheet of paper. I will still press send.