Monday, November 14, 2011

No. 1

There are human experiences that can't be written.  You are sitting next to a huge koi pond with a fountain.  That noise, not quite "babbling," not rain, what do you call it?  Is there a word?  Could it ever really capture all of the nuances of the actual experience?
Every time I try to write about my father, I return to that koi pond, that fountain, that noise.  I know that I am close to something important.  I know I have something to say.  I just don't know what it is yet.
So I sit by the koi pond.  I'm in a pink, stained and faded deck chair on the left.  My dad's on the right, sitting in blue.  
"What happened here?"  He says, brushing his hand against my chin.
Normally, even if I don't betray it outwardly, I shrink away from my father's touch.  It is not a question of abuse, but more the near constant bullying of the largest kid in the room.  Always the largest kid in the room.   But, in this instance, his touch signals something else.  It is the first time he has noticed something about me that didn't directly relate to him in weeks, if not significantly longer.  
"Bug bite," I say and proceed to show and document every bug bite and it's corresponding mark all over my body.  
For more than a year, my dad's consciousness or level of awareness has faded in and out like a target blown by some unknown wind.   Words have shifted in usage as if concrete meanings have yet to be assigned.  Sine-aid, an over the counter sinus medication, has become the "go to" pinch hitter when no other word volunteers.  It doesn't seem to matter much.  I've never claimed to understand my father.  In many ways, it is as he has been shouting "Sine-aid" for years.
I know that for my father, family always comes first.  
"Friends will come and go, but your family is forever."
Back in the days when they still had me snowed by the "if you lie, we will always find out the truth in the long run" this seemed like an unfair curse. I envisioned lifetimes spent with these people.  You couldn't suicide from something like that.  I'd look at other families and long to move in with them, if only in the afterlife.
Now, my actual family diminished to just the two of us, only child to only child,  it promises a certain freedom I've never had before.  The chance to build a family rather than ....  What?  Be enslaved by one?  Trapped by one?  Saddled?  Locked in a hopeless struggle of co-dependence with one?
At least finally now, rather than my being the stupid one in the conversation, rather than my being the cause of all of the problems he is suffering, he has seen me.  In a moment of isolated clear vision, he has seen me.  
Nagging voices tell me to speak of the stroke.  
"You're being unfair to your listener.  When are you going to tell them about his stroke?"
My father had a stroke, at this point a little more than a year ago.   It is the reason for his mixed words.  It is the reason I have been activated, like a sleeper cell, to handle his affairs.  
I dare to hope I am more than a suicide bomber.  I dare to hope for a life after my life's mission has been accomplished.
For now, I sit next to a 9 foot kidney shaped koi pond where I once taught myself to dive and appreciate the beauty of my surroundings at my parents' house as if for the first time.  The light winking at me through oak and pine and fir is golden and beautiful.  That sound without a name caresses my hearing.  My bug bite recitation finished, I smile and my father smiles back.  It is only a moment.  A moment made even briefer by contrast, but it is no wonder I sense there is something to say, that I have witnessed something important.

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