Falling, Gently

7

May 21, 2017, Prescott-

Yesterday could have been seen as somewhat of a bust.

I didn’t spend all that much time at a memorial picnic.

I felt there were some serious issues of trust,

coming from some of the people closest to the man,

in whose memory we were gathered.

Earlier, I had been at a place where trust HAS been earned,

and, in honour of my maternal grandfather,

enjoyed a Chicago-style Polish Sausage.

I never met Papa, in this life,

but his forebears hailed from Silesia,

when it was German turf.

There was, then, as now,

a great deal of interplay between German and Pole.

So, Polish sausage, with sauerkraut and Dusseldorf mustard, it was.

There was great food at the picnic, as well,

and the Mariachi were heartfelt in their performance.

It was a magnificent tribute,

frayed only by that lack of trust,

something that the honoree would never have countenanced.

I moved on, and read, just this morning,

a horoscope that told me,

those who hurt you were doing the best they could,

under the circumstances.

None of us, really, are ourselves,

in the wake of shattering loss.

I wasn’t, from 2011-14.

A lot of people were hurt,

in the wake of my mourning.

Some have never forgiven;

most have moved on.

Last night,

I happened on a troubadour.

Her message, sung across the miles,

to the one man she loves with every ounce of her being,

was just how lucky he made her.

The audience, mostly late middle-aged couples,

heard it in their hearts, too.

I know that feeling, so well.

My spirit angel was one of a kind.

She said to us, to me, if you’re struggling,

hang on.  It’ll all work out.

She sang of falling gently,

as she did for the man who waits for her,

back in Cape Cod.

Enjoy the accompanying message, from Monica Rizzio,

and if you’re ever in Cape Cod, catch one of her gigs.

Mothers and The Ides of May

10

May 15, 2017, Prescott-

There was no obligatory Mother’s Day post here, this year. The Second Sunday itself was largely taken up with funerary rites.  Mom got a call from me in the evening, though two earlier attempts were made.  She’s on the move yet, during the day, so evening always seems to work best.

She loves the roses, and will hopefully have some idea of what I can do, come July, regarding helping to renovate our family home of 62 years.   Those are more welcome gifts than tying up the phone, which she finds tiresome, after ten minutes or so.  Perhaps the best gift I can give her, though, is maintaining a positive attitude.  It’s gotten her through nearly nine decades, and keeps her on top of what goes on, day by day.

My second brother, also a model of positivity, came through today’s medical procedure, ready as ever to get back to taking on the world. He helps guide the company that produces some of Boston’s finest frankfurters (“hot dogs” is not the term of choice there).

That news is indicative of this month:  Warm and cool days intermingle.  Death and suffering are dovetailed with love and recovery. Years ago, my over-correcting, on a California surface road, almost derailed our pending marriage, but warmer hearts and cooler heads prevailed.  Fifteen years later, I had walking pneumonia, which took well into June to disappear.  Now, twenty years further on, I am in the penultimate week of a challenging, but largely successful, academic year, and my first full-time stint since 2004. ( A brief internship with a rather mercenary “social service” agency, in 2009, hardly counts.)

May, 2017 has met its Ides, and the year as a whole is moving along, much faster than the previous two. I wonder what Quantum Physics has to say about such things.

 

 

 

“He Was At Home Here”

6

May 6, 2017, Cottonwood-

There was a magnificent scrum of motor vehicles, and drivers, when I arrived at the parking lot of Taco Don’s, and took my place in the rapidly forming motorcade.  The hearse and family cars were followed by the motorcycles, then the classic cars (Jayme was a car buff, being from eastern LA County) and us friends and admirers, taking up the caboose end.

We set out ahead of time, and had cleared Prescott, by the time we were originally supposed to leave.  Some stragglers caught up with us, on Highway 89A, and passed ahead, to get to their designated spots.  By the time we reached Jerome, and wended our way through the “ghost town’s” streets, everything was in perfect order.  Jerome, like much of the Central Highlands, is in full bloom.  Here are some lupines, that graced our view.

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We reached Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, on the northwest side of Cottonwood, with 30 minutes to spare.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that the church’s cross-street neighbour had set up two golden Dol Harubangul (Korean “stone grandfathers”, the symbol of Jeju, where we lived from 1986-92).  This was very much something that Jayme would have found wildly amusing.  As the statues are usually black volcanic rock, this was definitely a nod to the area’s mining culture.

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Immaculate Conception is a spacious, majestic parish church- almost cathedralesque, in size and airiness.  The celebrant priest, also a friend of Jayme’s, noted that the man “felt at home here”, making frequent trips over the mountain, on Sunday mornings, perhaps because of the exhilaration one feels, when going through the pines, and along Jerome’s streets.  The church felt quite homelike for us, this morning, with a robust celebration of Jayme’s relationship with his Lord and an outpouring of love, from his family and closest friends.

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The exquisite service left me chastened, as funerals so often do.  I thought, once more, of my own ongoing mission, knowing that being there for others, something that Jayme Salazar did so well, and at which I am improving, is imperative.  We will all gather again, in his memory, on May 20, for a Fiesta Grande, at Prescott’s Watson Lake Park.  I promised his dearest friend that I would be there early and leave late.

One other nice touch- when I stopped for lunch, at Colt Grill, in Old Cottonwood, the soundtrack featured Mike and The Mechanics’ “The Living Years” and REM’s “Everybody Hurts”.  The Universe always speaks clearly.

“If you don’t give up and don’t give in, you may just be okay.” – Mike Rutherford

“Hold on”.- Michael Stipe

Wakefulness

3

May 5, 2017Prescott-

I  am freshly returned from a visitation for one of Prescott’s genuine champions.The concept of waking, a seemingly odd term for remembering a departed soul, prior to burial or often, in these days, cremation, is perhaps in hopes that death is not a real thing.

I don’t know if that’s accurate or not, but the life of Jayme Salazar (he pronounced his name alternately in English and in Spanish), came back before those listening to the eulogies.His childhood and adolescent antics, presented by his older sister, were reassuring to all, that a full life proceeded from that awkward time.  A lifelong friend of his recounted the man’s intense work ethic, combined with a genuine love of people, which established his Taco Don’s Restaurant as one of the city’s premier lunch venues, and a true gathering place.

He came came here from California, by way of Las Vegas, as so many of us have come here from farther afield.  Jayme found that the mountains, lakes, dells and grasslands of the area, but above all, the earthiness of the people, were a capturing force.  That he gave his life here, in the shadow of Granite Mountain, was the ultimate giving back.

Some six years ago, I saw my beloved wife go homeward, to the Light, in a more prolonged way, but not dissimilar period of service to the children and general citizenry of a western suburb of Phoenix.  Any home in which we ever lived together was open to countless people.  Any school in which she ever worked was the center of our married life, with work and love likewise moving in tandem.

So, I understood, fully, standing in the anteroom of the funeral home, this evening, that priceless spirit, that brings casual customers and acquaintances of a loving soul to a sense that here moved a lifelong friend; here lived a steadfast pillar.

To each one to whom I’ve bid farewell, these many years, let me close with the voice of Enya.

Jayme, Penny, Norm, Dad, Brian, Colonel Mortimer, Uncle George, Aunt Adeline, Margaret, Mike C. and so many standing beside you, in the Legions of Light, thank you, for having lit my way and for lighting the night.

Seen, Heard, Believed

2

May 4, 2017, Prescott- 

My kids value being greeted at the bus

each school day.

It actually hurts their feelings,

if circumstances get in the way

of this happening.

They tell me things that go on

at home, around the neighbourhoods,

just like my other kids did,

back in the day.

There is this thing

called eye contact,

undivided attention,

heart connection.

There is this thing

where they matter,

more than the rules

of “Boys Town”,

more than Policy.

There is this thing

where I see them

down the road,

in a few years.

There is this thing,

where I tell each

of them,

that a bright future

lies ahead.

There is this thing,

where I tell them,

that the only one

keeping the door locked,

ultimately,

is themselves.

I’ve said it before,

“seen and not heard”

is a heinous lie.

Whoever coined that phrase

is guilty

of crimes

against humanity.

There is a child,

whom I’ve never met,

who was molested,

a few years back.

I read of her family’s struggles,

trying to deal with

something they don’t understand.

They want it to go away.

Sexual abuse,

like any other loss,

never goes away,

entirely.

Whoever said “seen and not heard”,

is a secondary monster,

extending the pain

inflicted on the child,

by the primary perpetrator.

Victims:

Be seen, heard and believed.

 

Kindred Spirits

2

April 30, 2017, Prescott-

My spiritual family,

ever present,

even when physically

distant,

have made all the difference,

in a life that has seen

its share of ups and downs,

on a vessel

that has hit its share

of shoals and sand bars.

Spirit mothers,

reinforce what my

birth mother taught.

Father spirits,

advise bold action,

but with a sense of

constancy.

Brothers in spirit,

proffer strength,

yet are not afraid

of sensitivity.

Spirit sisters,

you are in

particular abundance,

of late.

It is always a comfort

to feel your loyalty

and nurturance.

Child spirits,

you are inheriting

the momentum

that will restore

our fellow man.

We know one another,

instantaneously.

Many of you reside

in Arizona,

but there you are,

when I happen upon

California, Colorado,

Texas, Oklahoma,

Illinois, Indiana,

Massachusetts, Virginia,

Florida, Washington,

Alaska, Alabama,

France, Korea

and so many points,

in between and beyond.

It is my greatest comfort

to feel your love and support.

Lover spirit,

you are ever with me

as you have been,

from the beginning.

Your message is

to forge ahead,

do what I am intended to do.

The parent, sibling and child spirits,

will see me through.

Should you, my love, visit me

in another personage,

I will be mindful and attentive.

Until then, my kindred spirits

envelop me in love,

as I envelop them.

Cornerstones

4

April 28, 2017, Prescott- 

Every great edifice has a cornerstone,

from which the foundation spreads,

and the stories rise.

Every family has two cornerstones,

from whom the children emerge,

and are raised to strengthen their communities.

Every community has several cornerstones,

from whom the leaders emerge,

and rise up to keep their towns and cities strong.

Every nation has a plethora of cornerstones,

from which the generation of ideas proceeds,

and safeguards the security of the land.

Our planet has a myriad  of cornerstones,

by whom the human race can be united,

and the spiritual unification of mankind may be realized.

 

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XXVII: The Only True Network

6

April 26, 2017, Prescott-

I’ve had a good amount of time to think about the people and things that have come my way, over the past six years, especially the past month or so.  I came upon what turns out to be an intensely spiritual little community of a few dozen good friends, anchored by two remarkable couples, who I met, in their entirety, last night, while online.  The women, one in particular, showed a high level of concern for my well-being, last month, when I stopped by their coffee shop, after a long hike.  I was fine, but that level of love resonated, deep in my heart.  Maybe I’ve been on the go, and semi-independent, a bit too long, and the message is to savour connections, more than I have up to now.

There is, from my having met the rocks, the diamonds, of two large and loving families, a deeper lesson.  My travels, here and there, will continue, as will my being active in the community that serves as my home base.  There is, though, thanks to Mrs. Willa Ficarra and Mrs. Kathy Barga, a reminder that there is no real heart connection, without a sense of family.  In all my travels, with three notable single-adult friends as exceptions, it has been the families who have befriended me, who have provided the most consistent support, admonition and encouragement.

As this academic year enters its final month, I look ahead to two months of connection, and re-connection, with friends, new and old, and with my own family, in strengthening the network that will help each of us, in whatever lies ahead.

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XXIV: The “First Home” Coast

0

April 17, 2017, Prescott-   Last, but never least, on my recap of what has mattered most to me, in jaunts around the contiguous United States, are the special places that are on, or within a few hours of, the Atlantic Coast.

I’m a native of Massachusetts, so the places and people of Boston and the North Shore have had the most direct influence on the me that you see.  My special places in Saugus are still the Ironworks (now Saugus Ironworks National Historic Site), Breakheart Reservation, the Marsh (near where my middle brother lives) and anywhere along the old rail path, now a Rails to Trails hiking and biking route.  Kowloon and Prince Spaghetti House are still around; Hilltop Steak House and Augustine’s Italian Restaurant are not.

Lynn and Nahant still mean The Beach, and as a teen, I went to Fireplace 10, as that was where Saugus kids hung together.  The evening before I was to ship out for VietNam, I was with two of my mates at The Beach.  A rent-a-cop wanted to haul me in, for “being bombed”. I had had two sips of a 12-0z. can of Budweiser.  His sergeant heard my story of being about to head for the war zone, and let us go, with the comment, “Next time I see YOU here, is a year from now, right?”  “Yes, sir.”

There are almost as many beaches, along the Coast, as there are rent-a-cops.  Crane’s Beach was the site of one of my part-time jobs, after the Army.  Yep, I was a rent-a-cop.  I tried to arrest an Ipswich Selectman (town councilman) for being drunk and disorderly.  Guess how that worked out.  My favourite beach is still Hampton, NH- it had the biggest waves, when I was a kid.  Salem, Marblehead, Newburyport  and all of Cape Ann (Gloucester area) are my favourite seaport towns.  Gloucester House and Woodman’s (Essex) are fave seafood places, with Kelly’s, in Saugus, good as well, especially for take-out.

The rest of New England certainly has featured prominently, from childhood, on.  The White Mountains and Cape Cod were yearly fixtures of our family summers.  Martha’s Vineyard and Block Island were places where I got my toes wet, in terms of ferry trips and island adventures.  I didn’t get up to Maine much, except to Aunt Marie’s dairy farm, in Eliot, just over the New Hampshire line.  Now, I’ve been all over the Pine Tree State.  Cadillac Mountain, Kingfield, Moosehead Lake and coastal York County are all special areas.

In the Mid-Atlantic region, I used to enjoy Larrison’s Chicken Farm, near Bedminster, NJ, until it closed.  The diners of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, like the Mark Twain, on Hwy 22 (aka the Death Trap-the road, not the dining spot), and Bedford Diner, off the PA Turnpike, remain close to my heart, though my doc would prefer I leave such places in the rear view mirror.  Annapolis and Cumberland are  intensely special places, at either end of little Maryland.

I have fond memories of the great cities- Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington have all been kind, when I have either passed through, or had extended stays.  Boston Public Library is one of a kind as an edifice, and rules, as a grand place of public learning; so, too, does the Library of Congress.  I have had mixed experiences in DC- the security force, in the Bush II Era, gave us, and those near us, an unpleasant time, in July, 2007.  When I next visited the Nation’s Capital, in 2011 and 2014, all was delightful.

The Southeast is not as deeply ingrained in me, as the rest of the Atlantic Coast.  There are some special spots, though-  Martinsburg, Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Hilton Head, St. Simons,  Savannah,Okefenokee and St. Augustine are this solo traveler’s  “feels like home”.  The Atlanta and Tampa areas have family, so they are built-in magnets.

Florida, south of The Villages, remains a mystery to me.  At some point, I will solve that puzzle.  Charleston (SC), Baltimore, Delmarva and the Hampton Roads area are, likewise, places that will get special attention, sooner or later.

Well, that’s it, for now.  I’m back to work, tomorrow and will be back in eastern AZ, next weekend.  Have a great post-Easter week, one and all!

Commitment

7

April 17, 2017, Prescott-

I read one of those Facebook things, where you put in name and birthday, and an algorithm produces a canned statement, about How It Is With You, regarding a certain aspect of life.  This one was about relationships.

The algorithm told me that I was lovable, but “commitment-averse”.  I’ve heard that from several people, over the past few years.  Without exception, they’ve had their own agendas, and I am “Other People’s Agendas- averse”, to be sure.  I like to help, live to help, but in my own space and at my own pace.

I am not commitment-averse.  Penny had my full commitment and attention, especially when she needed me most.  I am a father-for-life, and the big guy knows it.  if he were in harm’s way, I’d drop everything and get over there.  I am a son-for-life, and Mom knows it.  She is fiercely independent, and that’s always a good thing.  If things change for her, I’d drop everything and get over there.  I am a sibling, cousin, nephew and uncle for life, and the family knows it.  We are little islands but, yeah, if it comes to it, you get the point.  I am, regardless of where my spirit takes me, a friend-for-life.  It’s gotten me through every tough spot in which I’ve ever found myself, including those tough places where my grief got me, a few years back.

I am not commitment-averse.  Recently, I walked into a small cafe, and was greeted by a soul who, I could testify on a stack of Scriptures, is one of those whom I’ve known forever.  Penny was, and is, such a soul.  Five good friends elsewhere, two males and three females, are likewise.  I’m convinced that, in time of a needful in-gathering, we would find ourselves in the same geographic place.  In fact, one such good friend is moving to a place close by, very shortly.  The thing about those of us who were together, in God-knows-what sort of Soul Existence, is that we understand one another, preternaturally, even supernaturally, and it goes beyond that which we know as empathy.

I will, over time, reconnect with “K”, as I have with the others. Our friendship on this plane will follow whatever course is in store. There are, no doubt, more such souls out there, and we will find one another, likewise towards whatever end the Universe has in mind.  Well, that’s it for now, with what an empathic friend here calls “the hoo-hoo stuff”.

My commitments for today are to continue clearing the backyard, get the clothes laundered and write another post, this evening, on the Atlantic Coast.