Tag Archives: death

Vanishing future

Route of young men.

I’LL TURN 73 toward the end of summer. This aging thing is quite interesting. I don’t recommend it, but it’s interesting.

Forget that malarkey about age being just a number. That’s arrant nonsense. The difference between a child of 10, a middle-ager of 45 and a coot of 73 is just a number?

Dream on, brother.

When you’re in your 60s, you realize you’re no kid or anywhere near it. But turning 70 is quite an eye-opener.

More and more I notice this phenomenon: “Future” vanishes. That long, straight macadam that disappears into the distance as if you’re motoring toward a faraway mountain chain, the Highway of Future. Well, you’re not driving it anymore, Bub.

Instead, you’re on Present Lane.

When you’re younger, “future” is simply something that’s out there, and it’s way out there, so far out there that you don’t really dwell on it. It’s just there, and you know it.

In your bones.

This mostly subconscious notion of an endless future affects lots of things — attitudes, lifestyle, decisions, plans.

Passing 70 years delivers an immediacy to life that you’d never known before. It’s very interesting. I do not recommend it, but there ain’t nothing you can do about it.

Not one blessed thing.

Route of old men.

Separate summers

Datura outside our bedroom window yesterday. There’s also aloe vera.

MY FATHER DIED a quarter century ago when he was just three years older than I am right now.

He was a sad man, but he loved summer. He worked evenings, which gave him days free to labor in the yard where we lived in Northern Florida in a ranch house.

He loved the Atlantic beach, sand and saltwater, and he loved tending the yard. Neither interfered with his drinking, however. Heat stirs well with highballs.

I don’t drink — well, not anymore — and maybe that’s why I don’t like gardening, and I don’t live near the beach though we can get there in three hours down the autopista.

And I loathe heat, the lack of which makes my mountaintop home wonderful in summertime. But things really grow here, much better than they did in my father’s yard.

Gotta be the latitude.

Every winter I blaze through the yard like a machete-wielding madman even though I actually use a small saw and branch trimmer. The golden datura is slashed back to basics, leaving the trunk and some nubs. It’s soft wood.

It booms back in June once it feels a touch of rain.

My father had a pink-flowered mimosa of similar size in our Florida yard. It was the only thing of any height. The rest were pansies, petunias, such stuff, all planted in rows.

Here I have a Willy-Nilly Zone where things grow, hemmed in by rock and concrete, in any direction they desire.

And for things of size, there’s monster bougainvillea, the towering nopal, a gigantic fan palm.

I was pressed, as a boy, into yard-mowing duties, and I received a small sum. I forget how much. And I once cut the Hacienda lawn too, years ago, but not anymore.

That’s why the Goddess invented pesos for me to pay Abel the Deadpan Yardman.

About a decade back, after I moved to Mexico, I drove a rented car slowly by the Florida house. The mimosa was gone. Everything was bleak. The grass was spotty due to cars being parked on it, just like a rack of rednecks would do.

There were no flowers at all. Nothing.

In the 1950s, the area was the middle class moving up. Now it’s the working class barely holding on.

Summers separated by half a century of time.

The abortion thing

Health care? No. Abortion? Yes.

LET’S TALK about abortion.

I’m a fence-straddler on this contentious topic. Not being a Christian, I have no religious issue with it. Like many people, abortion has been a part of my life.

My first wife got pregnant unexpectedly. It was before we married. We were young and shocked. Rather quickly she found an abortion doctor. This was before Roe versus Wade.

It was illegal.

I, however, was troubled and nixed it.

We married, and my life sailed in a direction it would have not sailed otherwise. I still feel the effects.

An unexpected pregnancy for young people is like a 10-ton boulder rolling down the mountain straight at you.

You can dodge it with an abortion. Or you can stand still, wide-eyed, and see what happens.

I support abortion rights when done early, and the fetus is just a nub. Where it gets troubling is when it’s done later and the fetus is a formed child.

Early, yes. Late, no. If you drag your feet making a decision, tough luck. Be decisive.

There’s lots of hubbub about Planned Parenthood, which is an abortion provider, and nothing more. Its supporters say it’s about women’s health. That’s baloney.

A reporter recently phoned Planned Parenthood facilities in various states to ask what prenatal services were provided. The answers were all the same. No prenatal services offered.

Planned Parenthood is an abortion mill, period. And given the strong emotions on the subject in many quarters, it should not be receiving taxpayer money.

Let the customers pay.

If you get pregnant unexpectedly, decide what you want to do with no dilly-dallying, and make an appointment with a doctor who provides the service. It’s legal.

Don’t wait five months and do it. It’s grisly.

Numerous undercover investigations have been done into Planned Parenthood, and what’s been discovered is quite disturbing. You’ll never see these reports in the socialist media like Huffpost, Mother Jones and The New York Times.

Abortion should stay legal for early stage. Illegal in the late stage.* To outlaw it altogether will just return us to the days of blood-soaked butchery in back alleys.

Outlawing all abortions is like outlawing drug use. It just creates worse problems. Use common sense.

* * * *

* Being an anti-government guy, I find even this troubling.

(Note: Later in my first marriage, we had another child, another accident. Ian Lee was born prematurely and with two club feet. He died three days later. After that, I got a vasectomy. I was 24 and out of the procreation game. My daughter recently turned 51 and lives in Athens, Georgia, with her husband. She is thick as thieves with her mother and has little to do with me. Irony.)

Southern Roots

beach
Florida, 1961. Father on left, me in middle, friend on right.*

MY FATHER was born in North Georgia on the edge of Atlanta during the First World War.

I was born in Atlanta during the Second World War. My father’s parents were born around 1890, which means I am just two family generations south of the Victorian Age.

My father’s parents’ parents were born shortly after the end of the Civil War. I’m not sure where, probably North Georgia. If they were not born there, they moved there.

My father was an arrowhead collector, a newspaperman, an excellent writer and poet, a boozer who shunned coffee and tobacco, and he wasn’t much of a father either.

For a while, he was a chicken farmer. He was drafted into the U.S. Army late in the Second World War and sent to Korea on a troop ship. He didn’t like that one little bit.

Yes, he was in Korea during the Second World War, not the Korean War, which came later. He never fired a shot at anyone, and nobody ever shot at him. He was a typist.

pop
1987

The war ended, and Uncle Sam shipped him back to Georgia. He never traveled anywhere again if he had anything to say about it.

He was not an adventurer.

As I said, he wasn’t much of a father. He had no interest, and it showed. About the only things that interested him were my mother, booze, writing and arrowheads.

He died in Atlanta of a heart attack in 1991. Coincidentally, he was lying in a hospital bed due to some unrelated issue, and was on the verge of being discharged.

He died just moments after brusquely hanging up the phone. He was talking to me. I had called.

He had not called me, of course. He never wrote me a letter in his entire life. He never wrote my sister either.

Those were pre-email days.

Minutes later, my sister phoned to say he was dead.  Age 75, three years older than I am now.

It was Mother’s Day.

I didn’t much like him, but I am just like him. I look like him. I think like him. I sound like him. I think I was a better father, but my daughter might tell you otherwise.

I did make an effort. He never made an effort.

He and I both stopped drinking in our early 50s, but for both of us the damage had already been done, irreparably.

My father was a lifelong leftist. He had witnessed Pinkertons shooting at strikers during the 1930s. For most of my life, I was a leftist too, as was all our family.

Unlike him and the others, I wised up late in life.

Will our many similarities include dying at 75? I hope not because I’m having way too much fun.

* * * *

(Note:  The inimitable Jennifer Rose recently noted the 20th anniversary of her mother’s death. This got me to thinking about my father, which led to the above. I wrote about my mother after she died at 90 in 2009.)

* The lad on the right in the photo is John Zimmerman. We were good friends. He went on to become a pilot in the Vietnam War and later a captain for a major airline. He sent me this photo a few years ago when we reconnected on Facebook.

Beautiful day

new-image
Side dish of orchid* with morning croissants.

VALENTINE’S DAY is one of our anniversaries. It marks the day we began living together, and that was in my child bride’s condo in Mexico City in 2002.

We made it legal a bit more than two months later, a civil ceremony held in the interior patio of her sister’s coffee shop here on the mountaintop.

While February is normally one of the coldest months hereabouts, this year so far is an exception. We have not had one freeze. A bit of frost last month, but that was it.

We aren’t out of the woods, and we can’t see the light at the tunnel’s end, but I detect a candle glow down there.

Just this morning, I finished the culling of dead plants from the yard, stuff nailed by those January frosts. It all rests in a greenish pile in the Garden Patio, and I’ll hire Abel the Deadpan Neighbor to haul it away very soon.

My lovely wife seems finally to be recovering from a nasty cold caused by her being phoned at 1 a.m. last Thursday as the wake for our nephew began. Yes, 1 a.m. Who starts a wake at 1 a.m.? Mexicans do. Sometimes.

The wake was held on the street with bonfires outside the nephew’s humble home. It was cold and smoky.

She had not slept the previous night either due to spending it at the nephew’s hospital bedside in the state capital. She was mostly awake for 48 hours. Who wouldn’t get sick?

But today things appear to be returning to normal. It’s a beautiful anniversary day,  air is cool, sky is blue, and we’ll lunch on roasted chicken, beans and rice.

* * * *

* Orchid courtesy of the Cotton family who recently visited the mountaintop.

The 23 percenter

I HAVE NOW spent 23 percent of my life in Mexico.

new-imageWere I a young buck, this would not be so many years, but I am an old moose with mossy horns. The years are plenty.

I stumbled thorough most of life with no intention of leaving the land of my birth. Georgia rednecks don’t move to Mexico. It was only within a year of moving that I started to think about it.

And then, within a one-month span, I dumped almost everything, got on a plane and came on down. For the first nine years, while my decrepit mother was still alive, I averaged one trip back a year, usually about a week.

I returned only once following her death in 2009, a few months after, and I’ve never been above the border since. I don’t miss it, and as time passes, I miss it even less.

From what I read on Gringo internet forums and websites, most everyone who “moves” to Mexico, be it for retirement or, much less often, to work, the draw of the Old Country is powerful. People can’t let go, and return often.

It appears compulsive, but it’s likely grandchildren.

Don’t tell my wife, please, but I have no intention of ever crossing the Rio Bravo again. I say don’t tell my wife because she really likes it up there, and dreams of another visit.

I have no tight family ties there — wish I did — so here I am, alone with a pack of Mexican relatives, including a number who’ve been illegal aliens above the border.

I speak Spanish almost exclusively. I live in a big Hacienda on what’s just above the U.S. poverty-income level, an interesting phenomenon since I’ve never felt richer in my life.

new-imageCan’t help but wonder what percentage of my life will have passed as a Mexican when it comes to a halt. No matter.

Pass the tacos, por favor.

Street scenes

carajo
Suicide house

WHILE MY child bride was peddling pastries on the main plaza yesterday, I took a walk around with my camera.

The upstairs windows on the above building open from the bedroom where my brother-in-law, separated from my sister-in-law after she tossed him out for philandering, accidentally shot himself to death about eight years ago.*

The same windows were used about a year later in a Nescafé television commercial. You see a woman sipping coffee briefly in one of the windows at the 0.55-second mark.

Not included in the commercial was the fact that the very bed on which the body was found still sat in the bedroom.

All of the street scenes were shot here. It looks more like Italy than Mexico to me, but it’s not Italy.

Continuing my stroll, I went down thataway and shot the next photo. It’s an intersection we call Seven Corners.

The black-and-white photos are fairly realistic because we’ve had some unpleasantly cool and rainy days of late.

Things will return to idyllic very soon, I’m sure.

truck
Seven Corners

* Don’t ever think a .22-caliber pistol is just a toy, especially if you point it at your heart and pull the trigger.

Mother-in-law

inlaw

MEET MY mother-in-law.

She was beautiful. I never knew her because she died at age 31 in childbirth with her fifth baby.

The baby was being delivered by my father-in-law whom I also never met because he died in 1986 at the age of 61. Heart attack.

He was a doctor.

This is a detail from a larger photo. I cropped and had it made computer-worthy. She would have been about 80 now.

The family never fully recovered from her death, and I imagine my father-in-law felt guilty the rest of his days.

The resemblance between my mother-in-law and my child bride, her third delivery, is quite remarkable.

Daughter didn’t fall far from that avocado tree.

The summer flood

IT WAS A lovely day as had been so many in that time between the Last War and when they let the Islamists in.

The European sky was clear and blue as he sat at a sidewalk table outside the historic bistro with a well-constructed cappuccino and a plate of sweet biscuits.

Water began running in the street, lightly at first, but the stream grew, widened and rose. In short order, he, the table and the chair, which was wicker, were lifted from the swept sidewalk, and off they floated, slowly at first.

Velocity increased, and the waters widened more. Within half an hour, he had passed completely from the large, old city and was floating swiftly through the countryside.

The river was perhaps now a half mile wide.

The water was neither cold nor warm but as you would wish it in a jacuzzi on a soft summer night though it was still day, and he could see the shores on either side.

Over there, all was green. There were tall trees and flowers. He heard songbirds in spite of the distance. The other side, however, was dark and dead, scraggly bushes, toppled trees, and he spotted a hungry beast standing stock still, staring.

coonHe was not the only floater. A wooden raft passed on which sat a frightened raccoon. Other people sailed by in the distance, some flailing but many just floating quietly like himself, perplexed.

Cars bobbed by with water near the windows. People were inside. Some were terrified, but others smiled. One car contained three children alone. It raced by quickly, and moments later he saw it submerge in the distance.

tigerTime grew fuzzy as he floated. He wasn’t much of a swimmer, but he treaded water well, and he felt downright good. He thought about this flood and wondered how it happened without rain.

A tiger floated by.

Ahead he saw a curve in the river. It had been a straight shot till now. The curve grew closer, and around he went with a smile on his face, the well-constructed cappuccino and plate of sweet biscuits being the last things on his mind.