Tuesday Morning Wake-Up Call

I beg your pardon, I hear my disease answer in reply to my many charges leveled against it—of trespass, hijack, squatting, invasion, vandalism, anxiety, psychosis, psoriasis (of the mind), catatonia (of the spirit), a Gordian knot (of my reason), poisoning, pollution, warping—I did not grow in you uninvited by the way you lived and the life that you were given to begin with. I started in you with time and from time. I opened my eyes thanks to you finding the combination to unlock my presence in you by the way you lived your life. I had no intention to riot against you, my host, upon whom I depended for sustenance and a quiet life—which is all I ever wanted. I did not intend to finish you and me in the process. As long as you lived on, so would I. As long as you left me undisturbed, I would keep quiet and dormant in you until the end of your days.

You see me as spikes, barbed wire, and broken bottles, all cutting edges in you, and you forget that you set me going, turned me on and cut me loose in your body. I did not expect it. All your talk, reading, and tree-hugging company, and demonstrations for good, signaled to me that I would not have a hectic life that charged to a rapid end for my host and for me, but that I would be in a quiet place, unseen and ignored and quite content to amble to an octogenarian’s crawl and walker decked with tennis balls for a snail’s mobility, staggering brakes and watch-paint-dry stoppage. I could see it when you meditated or did your yoga or ran or lifted weights or ate greens, lots of them, with poker-faced enjoyment. I stopped thinking of a day when I would be free to run to my end and in the process, bring about yours preternaturally early. [Read more…]

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

We hug across the gearbox console. I tell her I love her very much and she tells me she loves me too. I drive around the block of her school for her red face to clear and for her to stop hiccupping with upset. I beg her to forget everything bad that sprang out of my mouth. That I am a fool at the mercy of my diagnosis. That I lack the necessary control to be a proper father to her. She says she wants me to be her dad, none other, and that she loves me and she will be fine in a minute or two. She offers me my soaked handkerchief. I tell her to keep it in case she needs it again. She says that she is fine. We have never been closer and with such intensity—thanks to my cancer. We are late for the start of her school day. I tell her if she feels bad just call me or text and I will leave work and pick up her in under ten minutes. She says she will be fine, really. That I shouldn’t worry. That she feels better. She asks me how I am doing. I tell her I feel better too. We part with a brief lock of eyes and hurried mutual I-love-yous. Thank you, cancer. I called you a f*cker for turning up uninvited and ruining what was supposed to be the party of my life. Now I thank you. You turn up the intensity in my routine domesticity.

Touching her was like taking a drug.

From the moment Ally was born, pushed out of Sam’s body (nothing could be more common than motherhood and yet nothing about it could ever be banal), Ally became Sam’s sun, Sam’s primary concern. She felt a directedness and a purpose and a meaning she had never experienced before. Another way of putting it: it was the least fake feeling she had ever had, the most earnest. Did all mothers feel this way? Did fathers feel this way? No, yes, doesn’t matter. On some level, it was Ally and then there was every other human on the earth. At first it was physical. The need to hold and feed and comfort. That was the best part of being a mother, answering that need. It was so simple and complete. Sure, there were times Sam longed for sleep, times she felt positively enslaved, but all it took was the head on her chest, the hand clutching at her, Sam’s own hand supporting the plump, perfect back. Touching her was like taking a drug. The back, the foot, the leg, the little arm; the lips, the ears, the toes, the perfect tiny nose. The thighs, the dimpled knees, the lines of fat at the wrists, the tapered, padded fingers with the tiny oval of a nail. Look at her. The eyes, well, they were the same always, the same today. Large, heavy lidded, dark brown, wide-set, extravagantly lashed. What a beauty she was and is. Even at the height of her adolescent awkwardness, Sam had found her profoundly, significantly beautiful. Was it “true”? Did others see her the way Sam did? It didn’t matter. What mattered was that Sam had felt this abiding love for sixteen years, and it was the best thing she had ever felt or would ever feel.

— Dana Spiotta, Wayward: A Novel (Knopf, July 6, 2021)


Notes:

Walking. With #1 Son.

383 consecutive days. Like in a Row. Morning Walk to Cove Island Park. You’ll say, impossible. I’m telling you, you don’t understand the Wiring. Only 1 day during the streak that put it in jeopardy, and that’s a story for another day.

Back to this morning’s walk.  Eric’s on My Mind.

We set up a makeshift office for him in the attic.  A white IKEA desk. A desk chair from Staples. A floor mat under the chair from Amazon. A small single bed against the wall.  And there he hibernates. 

Late night, he shifts in the chair, the floorboards creak, his office directly above the Master bedroom. His chair directly on top of me, sleeping. He’ll be editing his photos, the same photos for hours. Days. The penguin from South Africa, that one up top, took weeks. Deliberate. Meticulous. Punctilious. Like a Professional.

He crawls into bed at ~3 a.m. About the time when his Dad, me, stirs, getting ready for his Daybreak walk. [Read more…]

Thanksgiving Morning

Quiet has many moods. When our sons are home, their energy is palpable. Even when they’re upstairs sleeping I can sense them, can feel the house filling with their presence, expanding like a sail billowed with air. I love the dawn stillness of a house full of sleepers, love knowing that within these walls our entire family is contained and safe, reunited, our stable four-sided shape resurrected.

~ Katrina Kenison, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment 


Photo: DK, home, Thanksgiving Day, Nov 26, 2020. 55° & Rain.

Truth

Have you ever held a three year old by the hand on the way home from preschool?…

You’re never more important than you are then.

— Fredrik Backman, “Anxious People: A Novel” (Atria Books, September 8, 2020)


Eric Kanigan @ 4 years old. He used to clutch on to his Momma’s hand, tears welling up, before he released her on his way into pre-school. 26 years old now. Still clutching on to his Momma. 🙂

Lightly Child, Lightly

DSCF1450

For him, love of art is inseparable from love of the outdoors—not raw wilderness, but the landscape of a dirt road cutting through a barren landscape, abandoned boats lying on a shore, an orchard or (a theme he returns to several times in his work) a church in the woods. My father possesses a pure love of light, and trees, the curve of a hill, the angle of a barn roof—shadows and colors. Weekends, as early as I can remember—age five or six maybe—we head out to the horticulture farm of the university with our walking sticks. Now and then, my mother and sister come, but often it’s just the two of us under the experimental apple trees sketching a field of cows or a stretch of abandoned railroad tracks. Sometimes, walking along the path on our way, my father stops so suddenly it seems as though he’s been jolted by electrical current. He points his walking stick toward the sky. “Look at that, chum,” he says. “What?” “See how the light hits that branch?” he says. “Study that cloud formation.”

Joyce Maynard, At Home in the World: A Memoir 


Notes:

  • Photo: DK, 5:46 a.m., June 9, 2020, Weed Ave. Stamford, CT
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

 

WFH? Give me another 4 weeks.

Week 2, Work-From-Home, which today in work parlance is WFH.

No early commutes in, or exhausting rides home. No hiding your iPhone to play Words-With-Friends during slow meetings. Had enough? Just turn on ‘Do Not Disturb’, close your eyes, lean back in your chair, and drift away for a few moments.  Or turn to your Kindle app and read a few pages from Yiyun Li’s Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life. “Can one live without what one cannot have,” she asks. I pause at this, and Wonder. Can I?

And WFH here, involves Father and his 26-year Son.

Both suffer from immune deficiency disorders of differing severity levels. Both hunkered down to stay out of the path of COVID-19.

Father in his make-shift office. Anchored to his chair, desktop computer, internet phone, headset and a notepad to scribble. Many days, not more than 1300 steps all day, most to run down to the Fridge. Potato Chips. A fix (or two) of Talenti Gelato. A handful of pistachios. Then, a short run back upstairs to calls. Up 6 lbs since WFH has commenced, and unfazed. Could be worse.

Son prefers to work from his bed. Two laptops running, iPhone on his bed, playstation cued up, ear buds to take his calls. He’s sipping from a tall glass of water. No junk food here. He’s lean, fit, a full head of hair and sits in his shorts and tee-shirt, sock-less, while the morning sun beams in. When did I get so old?

I sit next to him on his bed. Nudge him over. “Come on, give me a little room.” He grunts, and moves over. I lean into him while we check messages on our iPhones.  Illya Kaminsky, that word magician, describes the moments. “…but something silent in us strengthens

And then we have lunch.

And then we sit and have dinner, and we argue over the madness in the 6pm White House Briefings.

And the next day, we repeat.

COVID-19? Give me another 4 weeks. I’m going to remember this.


Art: Kendall Kessler, Clyde and Alan

Sunday Morning. A Minute of Silence.

Tom Hanks as Mr. Fred Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” With an all-star performance by Matthew Rhys.  Movie, Highly Recommended.

Orange

I once watched my father peel an orange
without once removing the knife from the fruit.
He just turned and turned and turned it like a globe
being skinned. The orange peel becoming a curl,
the inside exposed and bleeding. How easily he separated
everything that protected the fruit and then passed the bowl
to my mother, dropping that skin to the floor
while the inside burst between her teeth.

~ Elizabeth Acevedo, “Things You Think While You’re Kneeling on Rice That Have Nothing to Do with Repentance” in The Poet X 


Photo: Orange Peel by Alicia D’Ors

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