Hello on a somewhat mixed bag morning,
Much like the sky this morning, I am not sure what to expect from the day. Eleven years ago today, the small town (and it is the only location in Pennsylvania that uses the word town as its official designation) where I live had a flood, which would change our entire semester and move the town to build a flood wall, a project still in process. We would be out of school for 10 days and it was like starting the semester all over. As I read the stories about Jackson or other places where floods have reminded us of nature’s power and fury.
I had intended to write yesterday on what would be the 66th birthday of my closest childhood friend, a friend whose mother and my adopted mother were life-long friends, a friend whose grandparents bought their house from my grandparents. I think you get the picture. Perhaps we were pre-ordained to be friends. We were sort of brothers of different mothers. Peter Gayle Goede was a force of nature because he created a presence wherever he went. And in spite of two older brothers who were amazing in their own rites, he was not to be outdone just because he was the youngest. He had a laugh that would fill an enormous space in an instant, and while he perhaps had a disdain for athleticism, he was as much of a superstar as anyone when it came to his theatricality and his ability to command a stage. I remember being in Sioux City Children’s Theater with him and his still one of the most amazing Jacob Marleys I have ever seen. But it would be his voice that presented an opportunity that changed his life.
We grew up in the poorer section of a town of 100,000 people (and he technically lived across the river in another town, and actually in another state). Ironically that little corner of the city was a hotbed for garage bands, and really good ones. Pete was asked to sing the classic Beatles song “Let it Be,” which was the theme of our high school’s homecoming. He blew people away with his effortless and incredible rendition of the Lennon piece. Not long following, one of those bands asked him to be their lead singer, and what followed would change their lives, and I would argue continues to influence them, even beyond his premature death. I remember the last time I visited him before he passed. He was in a care facility because he could not really do anything for himself. It was quite astounding to see what ALS had done to him in a relatively short time. As we chatted, his voice little stronger than a whisper, he asked that I might take him out for a frosty at Wendy’s, which I was glad to do. I had to put his jacket on, I buttoned it for him, I helped him get in a car and fasten his seatbelt. In some ways it was like Peter was trapped inside a mannequin of himself. As we drove to Wendy’s, he reminded me I would need to feed him, and much for graphically he explained if he needed a restroom what my duties would be. I merely responded, “That’s fine; I understand. No problem.” He stated matter of fact my, “I don’t want to wipe your a**.” I smiled and responded, “ No worries; I don’t have one.” And we both started laughing. Even now I realize how comfortable we were with each other, and I am grateful to this day I could make him laugh as he faced his inevitable mortality. While there were a number of unexpected elements to our day, it was most shocking when he said, almost as an aside, “I never expected to get old.” I had no response, and merely pondered his statement.
Even today, I wonder if individuals, relatively healthy and with little reason to suspect adversity, can by some 6th sense or intuition, have a sort of premonition of their own end of life? If so, is such a sense comforting or disconcerting? How much is reasonable to know and when is it too much? Certainly, there is an element of individuality to this answer. Additionally, it probably depends on the seriousness of gravity of the revelation. As I have turned another year older, living the first full day towards a next birthday, I am positive that age has something to do with it. Am I ready for some soon, even though the sometime eventuality of my existence as a living, breathing, cogent person is there, to happen? Most certainly not! I have much I want to still accomplish. And as an aside, I am sitting at PennDOT in the queue to get a new license. I think I might get through the queue at Westminster to view her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II quicker. I did get my license purchased and paperwork completed, but it was going no to be almost two more hours to get a photo. I will go back another day and to a center more geographically convenient. All of the additional things seem to predict a ridiculously busy coming 7 days. I think that is the reality of life until the end of the semester.
I sometimes wish those who have departed this world could come back from or a week and observe. They might need a day to contextual the present world, but there are two people I would love to sit down and listen to after their week’s observation of where we are presently. The two individuals are my paternal grandmother and my adopted father. The reason for the two of them are they are the opinions I believe to be honest. There is a difficulty because they are contemporaries, two years different in age, and actually cousins. I am pondering how similar their political stances would be. I am imagining my grandmother would be the more conservative of the two. I think this is the first time I have actually considered that. And yet, I would want to know their views and their opinions. My grandmother was a recovering alcoholic, and serious adherent of Norman Vincent Peale’s theory or positive thinking. Additionally she was a small business owner. Those things lead me to believe she was a traditional Republican. And, in spite of the fact both families were helped by Roosevelt’s new deal. Though as a farming family perhaps they did not benefit from all the Alphabet Agency support. My adopted father, on the other hand, told stories of walking with his father to collect rent payments, and taking the money to make sure it got home, ensuring Grandpa did not spend it in some bar before he got home. This, of course, reveals an entirely separate issue that is part of my family’s fabric. My father was a blue-collar, union electrician, who, I am quite sure never voted Republican in his life. He understood social programs, but simultaneously noted there are no free lunches. While my grandmother is still my hero and someone I think I understood, what I realize now is I am not sure where she would stand on some things. I am quite sure as someone who always treated the other with the utmost respect and rejected words or actions that demonstrated such unkindness, she would be mortified by our current National atmosphere. In fact, she would be angry, but note it in her own way. Her phrase was “I am so angry, I could just spit.” That was about as vulgar as she might get. I think I heard her say “damnit” once or twice. In fact, I am sure I would get lectures about my potty mouth.
Ironically, since I last worked on this blog, a few days ago, I was lectured for my potty mouth. And rightly so, perhaps. I am more like Luther personality-wise than I might have realized. To say there is an earthy element to my affect is most certainly true. As I write this, it seems it is time to begin yet another journey of sorts. I have done them before and yet each time seems more laborious. I never know if it part of what is in process or something new, but it is not a stranger to me. I know this battle and I will manage it. Seems time to post.
This is my musical mood on this October afternoon.
Thanks for reading,
Michael (aka Dr. Martin)