Sitting at the red light one frigid early Ash Wednesday evening, my preoccupied between-jobs mind followed my drifted gaze.
I observed them as they exited the nearby church, in twos and threes, mothers and children both, freshly ashen-faced. (And just where are the fathers anyway? Do we ALL get tossed aside unneeded after our seed and wallets have been harvested?) While they trudged through the cold air determinedly to get back into their colder still cars, I noticed something.
Of these husbandless tribes, some of the children seemed typically miserable, exact-mirroring the look of the maternal unit they were trying diligently to distance themselves from, lagging behind. And then there were others who were atypically fully engaged with their mothers, animatedly eye-to-eye communicating while staying close, better to prove their “whatever their point is anyways,” as clearly and lovingly as possible.
It’s probably no surprise that I found myself jealous of this latter group, what with me being a recently reluctant member of the tossed aside dad club too. But I also noted envy towards the former group as well; similar to the way I imagine a legless man must feel about someone with a limp. “’Better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all,’ is a statement clearly concocted by one who has never actually had to test the theory,” I clucked to myself in defiance to that particular cult of thought.
The light greened, and I drove off to career pt. 2 of 4, forgetting soon thereafter about the experience till just now. Life does move on after all, whether you be limbed, amputated, or merely limping along.
I originally wrote the following in response to my dear Ela’s weekly 100 Word photo prompt “PLAY” challenge. I then decided I liked it enough to share with you here as well.
Please take some time to visit her site, where you will find intellect, soul, wit, and playful word-weaving that becomes even more impressive when you realize that English is her second (or maybe even third or fourth – the girl is insanely intelligent) language. As always, I hope you enjoy.
Why are you shouting so loud daddy?
Mommy’s not deaf, she can hear you, daddy.
Why do you yell at her so, daddy?
Why don’t you stop, and maybe rest awhile daddy?
She didn’t mean what she said daddy.
I’m sure she never wanted to hurt you daddy.
I KNOW she didn’t mean it, daddy, I just do.
I’m sure she still loves you best daddy.
I’m sure she’s only “kissing friends” with him, daddy.
I’m sure she will want you back, one day daddy.
Where are you going daddy?
Can I come too, daddy?
Can I daddy?
Now to be fair, today’s song did NOT come to mind until well after I had written these 100 words. That being said, I will STIIL be willing to shamelessly make use of it here and now…
My first-born, when he was first born, lay there on the heating-table as the nurse looked to me, saying “He’s yours – you can touch him.” I recently introduced him to the (somewhat painful) world of job applications, though it feels as he was only born a few years ago.
Simon has the power.
Hannah’s 15, and Hell on Wheels. Hell. On. Wheels. A strong young woman who desires popularity, while understanding the power of true friendship. She’s gonna dazzle the world with her persona, a trait she gets – oddly enough – from me.
Hannah has the power.
Ian’s 13. “Last but not least” never had a truer ring, and to me, he’s a Heart Of Gold on two legs – two very short legs. He keeps us four in check, making damned sure that I’m always on top of my game.
Ian has the power.
I named them with the following criteria – each should have names rooted in biblical history (“Ian” being Gaelic for “John”), and none should have names that could be altered in common conversation.
All three bless my Life.
All three lift me.
All three have the power.
And all three,
Will someday use it.
Three (3) notes concerning this post:
1) This week’s 100 Word Song prompt was chosen by Linda Roy (who has the bestest business cards ever!) – “People Have Power” by Patti Smith.
2) Losing all punk rock cred, I never actually was that much of a Patti Smith fan. I mean, I caught “Because The Night,” and thought to m’self, “Well, that was rather nice,” before moving on. Hey, it happens. Truth be told, I wasn’t all that sold on Iggy Pop either.
3) There are three people in my life who continually inspire me, unconditionally love me, and make me a better man by their mere presence. They are currently walking with me through the hardest challenge of my adult life thus far, and I felt it was once again time to give them their due respect. Even IF I blew the 100 word limitation by a straight 100% in the process. Being their dad is never a pain, and always a pleasure.
3.5) Well. I suppose we can all safely assume that that last bit is a *touch* over-the-top, unadulterated and biased b.s., right…?
It was a flying swing-sort of thing, but I didn’t catch the name. Hell, I didn’t catch a lot of stuff on that day.
But it was a perfect day none the less. True, Mother Nature tried to bring us down, with some skies initially grey. And a certain other also tried to bring me down. But even her best efforts at pissery melted painlessly away, under the sun and the Love of the day.
The sun, the Love, and the perfection were all experienced by myself, my three, plus a friend of Hannah’s, at a little 5 & Dime theme park up my way called Fantasy Island. Now if you’re anything like me, you can NOT go to this park without hoping, “Maybe this time. Maybe this time Mr. Rourke will be waiting for me, wearing white and looking drop-dead Mexican sexy, as he welcomes me to his drop-dead-not-Mexican-but-just-as-sexy island, granting me a wish.” As you might have guessed, this visit did no more to yield that desire becoming a reality than any of the other visits, but as the day strolled itself along, this time I found that it didn’t really matter too much at all.
It was all good, and every moment was cherished, me with them, and they with me. No longer little children – like the last time we had gone – they’d grown now, matured, and the “kiddie rides” took on a whole new meaning. A new flavor. Obviously, the ones that required you to be 4′ or under were passed by altogether this time (me, being dragged by the three plus one away from the Lil’ Boat Merry-Go-Round. Can you imagine? I mean, c’mon! They use REAL water for God’s sake! That ride kicks ASS!) But we still all smiled like idiots, as we rode down the Giant Slide, potato sack under butt. We still all pretended to have zombie and/or cyborg horses (I mean, they DO all have posts struck straight through them, after all) on the carousel. And we all – every last one – pretended that bumper cars were the vehicles used exclusively by average older Americans, in the effort of learning how to drive.
We enjoyed the Crazy Mouse (a roller coaster best described as being engineered by the boys from Devo, while being high on paint thinner), and the ferris wheel, but it was that damned flying swing-sort of thing that would eventually provide me with the inspiration (FINALLY!) for this particular post.
You see, the ride is simple. A swing. That goes in a circle. No big deal, right? Right, unless you realize that this particular swing is about 800 gazillion feet up in the air. I went only because I told myself – as I was herding the three plus one into the car – that this trip, I would “Just. Let. Go.” I would live, instead of worrying about dying. I would be me, instead of being scared about being yelled at by someone because I was being me. So when the kids said “let’s go,” I swallowed my trepidation, and got on the swing.
And I loved it. Like, “Jesus pulling on my non-existent hair just so it could blow in the wind one more time” loved it. The first time I went with Hannah’s friend. Which was perfect, because she has no reason to love me, yet still she apparently does (she calls me “Grand Pee,” only after she decided that “Dr. Pee Wee” was too formal). The second time I went with Ian. Which was perfect because, well, because he’s Ian. And the last time I went with, well…
He told me his name on the flying swing-sort of thing, but I didn’t catch it. Hell, I didn’t catch a lot of stuff on that day.
You see, with this ride, they always need exactly an even number of riders to lift off. And this time, he and I were both odd men out. So we sat together.
He was O.G. (do they still say that?), but one of the mentally handicapped variety (do they still say that?) A good kid, but I must admit, a bit creepy on the surface as well. Creepy as in, it wasn’t until we reached the 800 gazillion feet range that I realized, only a metal bar and a plastic seat were keeping me alive. But I swallowed a second helping of trepidation, ignored old tendencies and old fears about such things, and just spoke to the kid.
Now to be sure, we will not be pen pals anytime soon, but we did both come to realize that flying is a pretty danged cool power to have, and if God was willing, we would both ask for it. I also came to understand that even “a bit creepy on the surface” people just want to be talked to, and treated with basic human respect, in order to be happy.
The ride ended, and the kid left. And that was that.
I still don’t know his name, but I will always remember the one stage in our “journey” – after he had pointed out his family members in the adjacent swings – where I motioned across the expanse of sky to another swing, and noting the (2) beautiful young men who sat within (both having had the good sense to remove their shoes before the ride began), being able to say to my momentary friend, “those are my two boys. I love them.”
I went to Fantasy Island to spend some time with my children. But I left with the realization that they weren’t my children, they were now their own. And they had decided to come to the same park for the sole purpose of spending time with me. And I remembered just how blessed I was, and am, to have that sort of Love in my life.
Thank God for grey skies that become blue.
Thank God for icy tones that melt painlessly away.
And thank Him as well, for those nameless, yet liberating flying swing-sort of things.
Now, if He would only see Himself to just allowing for taller folk to be able to ride the Lil’ Boat Merry-Go-Round…
There has been something I’ve been struggling with about telling you. It’s a subject that those of you who have been following along for a while now, will know everything about. And those of you who have been following along since around 3/21/13, will not. I was still on the fence about discussing this subject, until The Daily Post begged us today to talk about Little Things.
You see, as a result of the recent life changes that have been tossing me about (again, if you’ve begun following only since late March, you’ll just have ask the person seated next to you what I’m speaking of, because you’ll no longer find any mention of it here), there was one final – and heartbreaking – decision that had to be made.
The children we were tasked with caring for, while their mother got back on her feet, were no longer best served by living in our house. We – I – had to let them go. As was the case before we initially brought them in, I once again asked my kids their opinion, and ensured that we were all first in agreement. The little ones were slated to be reunited with their mom in June anyway, but that in no way made the decision – nor the subsequent call to Child Protective Services – any easier.
I explained the current situation, and broke down slightly, apologizing while saying we were going to have to back out. The case worker was very kind in thanking us for everything we had already done (especially considering there was no kinship involved), and said that she would be happy to try to get the children relocated promptly.
As fate would have it, of all the life tossing going on just now, this solitary item may have turned out to be the one blessing in disguise; as it was determined that instead of placing them anew, the children would simply be reunited with their mom (who is doing well) earlier than anticipated.
So they are gone now, and out of my life. Most likely forever.
After we had packed their lives into the over-sized pickup truck that their mother’s friend trundled into our driveway and had seen them on their way, Ian (my youngest) and I retreated to the house where I, in an extraordinary feat of extreme manhood, fell to the bed weeping. Ian, being just about one of the most empathetic people I know, softly patted my back and in response to my moan of being sorry that I was failing everyone, said simply and calmly, “daddy, you are not failing anyone.”
I hope he’s right. And I hope that these two little things – these two precious and beautiful little things who invaded my life for almost a year, and opened my eyes to a whole different world – will never be overlooked again. Not by their mother nor the system sworn to protect them.
I still don’t know what it was all about – us taking them in, that is – or if it helped in the least that we did. And please don’t tell me blindly that it will all just be worth it in the end. There hasn’t been one soul yet who has been able to make me buy that line. I have a sort of a “Now just what were You thinking?” finger wag list that I’m compiling, and when I do meet God, “whatever became of these two little things” will be one of the questions pretty damned high up on that list.
Yamil and Delilah, I know you’ll never see this. But I want you to know that I hope you have fond memories of your time with us. I hope that God continues to bless you on your journey, and I hope – I pray – that whatever it was I was supposed to do for you, I did.
I will miss you Little Things. You crazy, obnoxious, pains-in-the-ass and simply beautiful little things. Please, go in peace.