She was eighty-five years old and she had no children of her own. She did have thirty-five nieces and nephews. And at one time, she and her husband had thought this might fill the void.
Only one stayed in touch. Only one came to visit. Only one could she call if she needed something.
Now for all i know this woman is the bride of Frankenzilla herself when not in public. Many people keep a face in a jar by the door but my wife told me about this customer of hers and i didn't think that. Well, i did think that but only for a really, really brief moment. My main thought was, "i don't keep in touch with any of my aunts and uncles."
And as i went to bed, in the forty-five seconds between becoming horizontal and the onset of catatonia, my mind started making a list. A lovely list. An adorable little list of all the people my mind, who apparently had been paying attention to these things even thought i thought i'd been ignoring...
My grandmas, one of which is developing alzheimer's like symptoms.
My father, who asked me to call him.
My sister, who's undergoing psychiatric evaluations these days while her two remaining children hang with...
My folks, who asked me to do a couple of favors for them that i keep forgetting.
My brother, who just moved his family across the country and i never visited while he was in Washington, a state i really wanted to visit.
My sister's other two kids who now live with their fathers.
My old partner, Duke, who called me out of the blue yesterday and has been out of work for a couple of months.
My best man, who i realized last night i never sent his family's Christmas gifts to.
Panzer, who, like my partner Duke, calls me out of the blue every now and then.
El Oso, who sent me a very nice Christmas gift himself.
The Mighty and Glorious Garrett Jaxx, who, wrapped in golden chains, i had been meaning to see even before the king died and made it more of an imperative.
Gosh, i'm glad this is not a numbered list.
The aunt and uncle that leant Mynk and i their cabin for our honeymoon.
The only aunt and uncle that stay in touch on my patri-side.
Either of the two cousins i have on my matri-side.
Any of full regiment of cousins from the other side, one of which adored me as she was growing up and had a baby who's name i can't remember.
Moffatt, my brother in worship who moved on to another outpost of the realm.
The Hawk, my brother in music who i've made several sad attempts to form a band with.
Add to this the innumerable friends and relations i see once a week and act like that's enough. Or the guys i see at work everyday but hardly speak to. So many lives i rub up against.
The homeless that i took blankets to once last year and haven't been back.
If you see yourself on this list, know that i haven't forgotten you but that to be remembered by me is little more than a line in my prayers. If you don't see yourself on this list, then... damn. Sorry. Who were you again?
There are a lot of trees here at the coop. And i like them all. It was really what i fell in love with that first time winding up the drive. A little patch of forest struggling to survive in a suburban desert. Take away the trees, like they did next door, and you uncover the ugliness of the two legged stink bugs living underneath. Like peeling the bark back and exposing a colony of the six legged variety. Just nasty. Now, as much as i love this wood and these trees, i don't do anything to maintain them. To me, God's system for forests seems to work best the less we interfere. Death, fire, rot are not things to be fought, they're part of the system. Like digestion, fever and excrement. They're not pretty but without them we'd be poorer... and probably explode at a very young age. Ewww.
So the trees i have are the ones that grow. i love them. i don't hug them.
Except for two.
There's a holly on the property. So verdant, lush, green, vibrant at all times yet with berries of opposing hue adding such a splash of crimson that you know this is no one dimensional tree. It may be a member of the forest, doing all the usual tree stuff: providing shade and cover and protection from the wind but it also knows how to party, it retains something, some secret that it only hints at with these scarlet sparkles. This tree, i love. This tree i want to see not just survive, but flourish! i love to watch it grow. i love how it hints of Christmas. i love to just look at it.
The problem comes when i try to get closer. Hollies hurt. They are fierce defenders of themselves. Reminiscent of rose bushes. They scratch and tear but i can't let go. This is the tree i love. Not an oak or a hickory or a cedar. This tree, this holly has my heart.
i've tried pruning back some of the sharper branches but i'm not an arboriculturist or even a topiarist. i'm more of a ...not quite a lumberjack... um, what's the word, what's the word? Butcher? No, too artistic. Barber? Enh. Too scientific.
Ah! Axe Murderer! That's it. The poor critter just looks wounded for weeks till the bare spots fill back in. While i fret that this time i killed it for sure. God is gracious though and repairs the damage but... there we are. Back to square one. Tree and frick, unable to get closer. Unable to be apart. What's a poor hollylover to do?
Go to the other tree i love. There are only four trees around the coop that i planted myself. Three are dead, one, George, survives. But it's not George i go to. And it's not one of the other two Christmas trees i killed. This tree i go to was dead when i planted it. Yet it's the only one that can bring life.
So here's the thing, no, here's a couple of things, but i'll start off with just one thing, otherwise my sentence structure will be more incomprehensibly convoluted than it already is. And you, me and the two other people reading this don't want that.
Thingummy numero eins: i stand accused of mopeyness. Yeah, i know. Hard for me to believe too. But there it is. Two out of my four comments prove it. So what's a frick to do? i'll tell ya. Some serious drinking. That's what. And THEN he starts working on his life. Analyzing it from every angle. Getting outside opinions. Self-help books. Gurus. Little old ladies with paisley scarfs on their heads and fake Bulgarian accents. i mean, mopeyness. This is serious. This can't be allowed to fester into melancholy. Next thing you know, i'd be writing poetry and wearing too much mascara.
Though a little nail polish might make my crushed finger look less disturbing. Anyway, that'll all have to wait as i'm still in the drinking stage.
All dour solemnity aside. There's two very good reasons why i'm accused of mopeyness. Thingummy numero eins-point-one: i am mopey. i don't really mean to be, it just sort of happens to happen. Not that it's not my fault but here's the thing... thingummy-numero-eins-point-one-A: (you might want to make some sort of outline on a separate piece of paper) i have high hopes for life. At the heart of every cynic is a disappointed idealist. Which brings me to...
Thingummy numero eins-point-two: life sucks. No really. It's a raw deal. You're handed a handful of puzzle pieces at the beginning and before you even know what to do with them, your family, guardians, friends and teachers are cutting them, scraping off the images, drawing on them, painting over them and basically making it impossible to tell what to do with them and then they shove you out of the boat and tell you to swim. i'm not mixing metaphors, that's what really happens. Nobody mentions swimming until you are out of the boat! You would think that would come up, but maybe they are all just bitter about being shoved out of the boat themselves. Or maybe its because of...
Thingummy numero zwei: i just like saying "zwei." The only thing better than saying "zwei" is writing zwei. And the only thing better than writing zwei is saying "zwölf" and the only thing better than saying and writing "zwölf" is that i just now figured out how to put umlauts over the "o!" You would think someone as easily amused as i am would be less mopey. But i'm not and maybe that's because of ...
Thingummy numero drei:Which is that the world is messed up. No, i mean it this time. It wasn't supposed to be like this. This is a really, really screwed up counterfeit of what it was supposed to be. And when we're most clear is when we see it for what it is. When we're "being all we can be" as an "army of one" and "just doing it" and being "driven" or "living life to the fullest" or " the extreme," we're just buying the lie. Kidding ourselves. And trust me, Satan's laughing. We weren't meant to be wage slaves, that's part of the curse. Work was supposed to be play. We sinned, now it's work. We weren't meant to seek identity, we were given it by God. We weren't meant to seek validation and worth through relationships. Relationships can't bear that! They're with other people for cryin'owtlowd! Those poor saps are at least as screwed up as you if not more so! And they're just using you to fix them! i can't even tell you what a true relationship was supposed to be because i'm so soaked in the muck of the mess that it is like trying to envision eternity, or the vastness of the universe or why peanut oil is more valuable than canola oil and so peanut butter doesn't have peanut oil in it. Some things are just beyond us.
So what happens is, i'll be there, worshiping God and it will be so clear. Why Jesus came, why He said all those weird things and then died. Why God raised Him. Why we have to wait for Him to fix it and what we're supposed to live like now and that nagging little idealist in me starts thinking, "yeah! This time it's going to be different. I was blind, but now I see! Life will still be life but armed with this good news, this gospel, I'll be able to truly live as follower of Christ, a person who knows his hope, lives! This is something to be shared. It's not babble, it's not theology, it's not religion, it's a love letter from God! I can sell all I own and give it to the poor! I can visit the sick, the prisoner, the outcast. How can I not?"
And that might last into Trusty the little, green saturn. It may even make it up the driveway. But then it runs right into the picture window of life, gets stepped on by negativity, chained back up to the millstone and made to pull for who knows what. And i suddenly understand monks and nuns. Who wouldn't want to stay there? That's the party, the reunion, the kegger. That's a taste of what's to come but that's not what this life is about. And for my next trick i'm going to sum up all of what life and this horrendously convoluted post is about with...
Thingummy Numero Vier: God's throwing a party, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe Dec 21, 2012. Doesn't matter. It's coming. And a couple of our sisters and brothers haven't responded to the invitation yet. Would somebody please conk them over the head and drag them in? In love, of course.