Dear readers, it's cliche' time here at Pendragon Hold. Allow me to apply the one most apt to this post…….."All good things must come to an end….."
No, not everything good HAS to come to an end, but everything DOES have a beginning and an end (except for the universe, which I personally believe has ALWAYS been here in one form or another and always will be) and this blog is no exception. It has served a purpose, one very personal to me, and time has come that I feel I can put it to rest, it's primary function having been served. I am beginning a new chapter in my life, and leaving a lot of baggage behind, and you can find some of that baggage deep in the annals of this blog if you dig deep enough. The final four chapters of this blog, not including this farewell spiel, pretty much provided the closure I needed, and I will not be sharing my journey from here on out in the same fashion. This venture began some years ago as "Madness, Musings, and Melancholy", and looking back on it, that title was probably the most appropriate to what this blog has meant to me. I later changed the titles to "Dances with Leaves", "These Thoughts Escape Me" and finally to "The Chronicles of Pendragon Hold" that I now leave to you on the servers of Blogger. I never honestly thought I could give this thing up, but now I know I can. I have to figure out now what I want most out of life and I can't do that here. I hope you understand.
I might create something to provide a creative outlet to which I might provide a link, but as far as my views, opinions, rants, raves, and ongoing biography, well, I have decided to move over to something we back in the day referred to as a "Diary". It will be private and will provide me with all the space I need to vent and explore my psychi, but it will not be accessible to anyone I know as not to offend anyone or cause me to censor my feelings for the sake of others. That's what private diaries do best and that's all I really need now, if at all.
Life will go on as always here at the Hold. The circle of life will continue. Loved ones will move on, some beyond the veil, others into their own lives. Life will be good. I am a very lucky man. People love me. They accept me. And I am at peace with who I was and who I will become as these years go by. Those of you who joined THE Wife and I way back in the beginning, I want to thank you for your fascination with this project, this open journal, and most of all, for your friendship, most of which has been unconditional and upon which I thrived on all these years. Each and every kind word of encouragement and support you lent to me meant everything, and I will not forget any of you. Those of you who have become close friends need not worry; we have each other's addresses. And yes, as long as YOU continue with your journeys here on Blogger, I will be there with you, just like you were with me.
Again, allow me to express my deepest gratitude for your friendships and support, and I hope that whenever you need a good laugh or want to rage against the machine, you feel welcome to delve back into the pages of this monster I created and find your inspiration there. I leave you with this………
May there always be someone who loves you
May there always be work for your hands
May you always be dealt with with kindness
As you travel throughout these lands
May there always be food on your table
and always a friend you can hold
May your body always be able
and your spirit always be bold
May the road rise up to meet you
May there always be a wind at your back
May your journey never be lonely
and I pray that you keep coming back
May your path be loving and gentle
with the children be wise and be kind
If your heart is heavy with sorrow
remember it's all in your mind
and we wait
for you to come back…….
David Pendragon - Irish Blessing for you
Dear readers, it's cliche' time here at Pendragon Hold. Allow me to apply the one most apt to this post…….."All good things must come to an end….."
I know all three of my loyal readership has been waiting with bated breath for this saga to be continued, but vacation was over and I had to return to my place of employment and try and remember what it is I do for a living. It was a rude shock. And they actually expect me to go back……….sigh, guess I will……I love those damn paychecks………
Check- out time for the cabin was 10 am, and since sleep was already elusive for me, I got easily into the flow of repacking the car for the return trip. Steve headed off with one family for a ride to the airport and Tammy headed off with her Sister Lisa to visit with her and some friends and other family before she would head back herself. We said our goodbyes, and for me personally…….it was hard. I had perhaps a dozen reasons for dreading our parting, including fears I might not see either of them again, etc, etc….. Yes, I have two brand new "Sisters" whom I keep in contact with fairly regularly, but there's always that dreaded "drift" factor…….time will tell.
We then headed over to the camping and RV sites to give some last minute hugs and goodbyes, and then it was off in the direction of home. My mind was racing a mile a minute with the experiences of the last three days, but I managed to navigate in the general direction of Florida without mishap. THE Wife, being a witch and all and generally interested in just about ANY flavor of folk magic, wanted to stop off at the French Quarter of NAWLINS and see if we could find any genuine Voudoun (Voo Doo) or Wiccan magic shops. Me, now, I am the nervous type when it comes to driving into strange urban territory (I HATE driving into what passes for a downtown here in Jacksonville) but I put on my "cool" face and managed to find a parking space without getting run over by a some street car named Desire or getting mugged by a friendly denizen of the Mardi Gras city. Never saw ONE cop the whole time we were there. Guess law enforcement is a luxury there these days. However, chaos didn't appear to be reigning, so we made our ways up and down a relatively short stretch of Bourbon Street and didn't find anything that seemed more genuine than a tourist trap. Plenty of GAY bars, yes, but real spirituality? Yea……….right………
We got back in the car and I phoned our friends in Mobile, and was reassured that YES, they would LOVE to put us up for one more night on this return trip! Especially since I bribed them with the offer of a serving of my cousin Julie's crawfish etoufee! We finally arrived back in Mobile, had no problem re-locating the house, and once again we shared a very pleasant night of gossip, camaraderie, and recipes. THIS time, however, they allowed us to remove the mattress from their bed-frame and substitute our air mattress and I finally got some measure of real sleep for the first time in four days. Amazing what a relatively warm room can do for zen and the art of air mattress filler physics!
Julie and Blan, I cannot tell you how much your friendship and the sharing of your home meant to me and THE Wife. And I sincerely hope that the authorities will never be able to trace our morbid activities to your doorstep! (Private joke, see "serial killers" in previous chapter). Whenever you desire to visit the Oldest City in the New World, or anything else in this general vicinity, you know where to rest your bones. Pendragon Hold awaits you!
Oh, sorry, allow me to backtrack and insert this between New Orleans and Mobile…….
We once again avoided the attentions of the Big White SUV's of the Mississippi Highway Patrol (explain to me how the poorest state in the union can afford the gas to run down speeders in THOSE gas hogs…….no wonder they can't afford anything else!) and I found the exit off Interstate TEN that led to my childhood…….that childhood I spoke of a few times in past episodes of the Chronicles that has haunted me even to this day. I now know that it is indeed true, you CANNOT go "home" again if for no other reason that "home" after thirty years can simply disappear. Yes, I had one hell of a time placing what was in my memory with what the landscape now revealed; so much change and homes and structures coming and going and nothing looking the same as it did, except for a couple of hard and fast landmarks, like a small bridge over a small creek (which seemed like a great span over a raging gorge to a small 7 year old) and the general shape of the roads that had not changed over the years. I did not see where anyone I might have known way back then might still be living who might remember me, and I was not really in a mood to go looking for that anyway. Closure did not need that and this was about closure. This is finally the end of that story. Life can now go on.
We now resume leaving Mobile, in progress……….
We said our goodbyes, not forever I sincerely hope, to Jules and Blan and finished off the final leg of our journey back to Pendragon Hold. Talk about anti-climactic! THE Wife had enjoyed an interesting vacation but for me it was cathartic. That night, in front of the television, I think it was ABC World News Tonight, they aired a story concerning a woman who ran a foundation which provided prom dresses to foster girls who otherwise would not be able to have them. Yes, it was a trigger, and manly man Michael broke down and let it all out. I remember one Christmas when my case worker, Mr Necaise if I remember correctly, brought me a box of games and toys and stuff from Carol Burnett's charity for foster children. And yes……"I had always depended upon the kindness of strangers…." Did the bastard write that line for people like me? Well, thank the Gods, I no longer need to feel that way. I now depend on the love of my family, a family I hope and "pray" I will never lose again. Thank you all so very much. I've finally come home.
These last six months or so my whole being has been all about this reunion; the planning, the saving, the arguing about it, the expectations, the communications with newly discovered relatives I barely knew, and all the angst and inner-child turmoil all this stirred up inside of me. So, where do I go from here? This, my friends, is an undiscovered country, and the landscape before me is fresh and new and yes, in some ways intimidating. My life is no longer "All about THE Michael" and believe me, it's about time. I now have special relationships with special people and aside from whatever happens with me personally here at Pendragon Hold, my life is now intertwined to some extent with people I may not even get a chance to see again but whom I know are there for me, in one fashion or another. I have even had to radically adjust my feelings about some of these people, for reasons that are personal to me if not to them. It's all good. And, one day, I hope that once again, as seems providence dictates, the oldest will share something profound with the youngest, and the circle of life will continue as it should, if not necessarily how we would like it to. I think most of us would call that "faith".
I awoke in the wee hours of the morning, perhaps just before 6 AM. Or at least I THINK I woke up, since I don't exactly remember having slept period, but I assume I did, at least some. Of course, THE Wife could have slept through an earthquake and never noticed, and she and the rest of the cabin peacefully slept through the morning while I shuffled around, made some coffee, and eventually, as the clock neared 9 am, I decided to start some breakfast (eggs and bacon) and turned on some music (yea, old spoil sport thought maybe it was time to get things going). Eventually THE Wife and the other two clawed their ways to consciousness and we got ready to head out to commune with the rest of the family.
A lot of that day (Friday) consisted of us wondering around the tent and RV area where most of the family was concentrated. There were ALOT of pictures being taken, and my "niece" Brenna had her keyboard out and was playing with it, showing us she had some remarkable raw talent while at the same time denying she had any. She's a lot like her "Uncle" in that respect. I sing and people don't throw rotting vegetables at me, so it's all good. My Uncle AJ had this HUGE RV trailer that I think half the clan was sleeping in, while a couple of families had cabins like us.
Friday was mostly to get our bearings and begin the reconnection process for those of us who had been separated for so long. Before arriving at the park, my cousin Julie (the next to the youngest of the cousins) had promised to cook us (me, actually, it was all for ME!) all some crawfish etoufee, a purely cajun dish along with gumbo. All I had to do was provide the crawfish, so I managed to find some frozen packages of it at a Walmart on the way. There was no question about getting live ones, boiling and shelling those little suckers enough to feed sixty people would have taken all day! THE Wife and I had also taken a hike and found a delightful clearing on a bluff overlooking the lake that would be PERFECT for an Ostara celebration (Spring Equinox), so we decided to run BACK to that Walmart, a thirty minute trip each way mind you, and get some candles and such to perform an impromptu circle with. While we were there I picked up ANOTHER pack of crawfish for Cousin Norman who wanted us to try out HIS recipe for etoufee. You see, just because it's Cajun doesn't mean it's only cooked one way. But all that was for the next night.
The day wore on and we kept ourselves busy and then THE Wife and I and our cabin mates returned to our abode and started our own party after having a nice dinner of the remainder of the grilled chicken turned into a nice chicken salad. THEN we cranked up the karaoke and had a blast with that. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my Cousin Tammy has a pretty nice voice, and could actually do quite well with songs I just never could handle well. We were joined by my youngest cousin Angie (the one I held in my arms on that day in 1981) and her husband, as well as my "Sister" cousin Lisa and her adorable teenaged daughter Brenna (who has adopted me as the "coolest cousin" and her "Uncle Michael". She sat up her keyboard and quickly found out that she didn't know any song I knew, but she did manage some freeform stuff that amazed me and everybody else who heard it. Have I mentioned yet that this girl is an amazing artist as well? Shades of my late Mother Michele shines on in this child…….you'd be so proud of her, Mom.
We rocked on till the wee hours until yet ANOTHER cousin and his kids showed up late to the reunion and needed a few beds to sleep on, which meant a pair of those bunk beds we weren't using. When I last saw Wally, he was us the cutest kid you ever saw, but now he was a comedian who needs to get a job……being a comedian. He was a HOOT, and kept us up really late with his tales. Now, THIS time we thought we had the air mattress problem figured out and decided to open up the fold-out couch and park the mattress on TOP of IT, figuring that would isolate it from the cold floor and keep it from freezing us.
Apparently, just raising the mattress off the floor does not solve the problem. The think little mattress already on the couch-bed apparently was not adequate insulation to prevent the mattress from picking up the surrounding coolness. And thus began my third night of less-than-optimal sleep. Do you detect a theme here, my dear readers? Believe me, it's not all about me and my lack of sleep, but I'm trying to be accurate here……here.
Now it's somewhere around 4 AM and THE Michael is one unhappy, sleep deprived, but still awake camper. But the Sun came up, and so did people, eventually, and another day began on the shores of South Toledo Bend Reservoir. I forgot to mention that I took a few pictures of the sunset which happens right on the water, and I think you'll agree it is simply a beautiful sight. This was the BIG day, for which the family had rented the visitor's center meeting hall for everybody to gather and share in some good cajun cooking and visiting. You saw the picture on episode one of all the cousins during that first major gathering in 1981, right? Get a load of THIS one………
I think it was providence that I was to bring my make-shift karaoke system to the reunion, not just for the entertainment value, but for the use it was put too when I set it up in the meeting hall. First off, the gang of teenagers commandeered the system immediately, having fun with it while the rest of us clans-people of advanced age commiserated. Then, (was it AFTER we all pigged out on ribs and crawfish etoufee, or before?) we gathered the individual families together and one after the other, brought each one to the front of the hall and introduced everyone to the rest of the family, using the microphone of my sound system. It then occurred to me that MY Mother was the only one of the elders who had already passed beyond the veil, and there was no one to introduce ME. However, I knew right off the bat who to ask. My Aunt June, the YOUNGEST of the elder aunts and uncles, who had come all the way from Alaska to be with my Mom, the OLDEST of them, when she passed away, was one who was there many times for me when I needed a hand up, and this time was no exception. She was BEAMING with the honor to stand in stead of my Mom, and she proudly introduced me to the clan, the only child of Michele, the gypsy artist who just like her baby, always lived life her own way. Thank you, Aunt June. I love you.
Then, as a nasty storm front blew in to soften the light, we all gathered outside beneath the canopy of the visitors' center to have our group pictures taken; family by family, the whole clan together, and of course, a reproduction of the original 1981 group photo. Not everybody is there, and none of us resemble ourselves, but hey, it was thirty long years gone by! We simply got better looking! hahaha
Eventually the clock approached 9, and we had to give up the hall, and I packed up the gear and hauled it out to the car with the help of Norman, who long ago, knee high to a grasshopper, had tied me to a chair with rope playing cowboys and indians or something. And I couldn't get out of it! So we made our hugs and stuff and broke back up into our separate parties. Back at the cabin, Tammy, Lisa, Steve, Gail and yours truly relearned the ancient art of canasta, and played a hand or two. Lisa decided that riding out the now stormy weather was not best done in a tent, so she and Brenna joined us to spend the night in the bunk room. Now, THIS time I just KNEW we had this bed thing figured out. We put blankets down beneath the fitted sheet hoping it would insulate us from the cold mattress. Well…..it did….sort of. THE Wife slept well enough. THE Michael? Night FOUR and I MIGHT have gotten maybe four hours. Thank the Gods for adrenaline and coffee!
The next morning I met with a certain amount of trepidation. I had waited for this reunion, making plans and saving money and getting so excited, and just like that……time to go home. Back to life. Back to life far, far away from ALL of these wonderful people I was blessed to be related to and spent three wonderful days with. But more than anything, I was so overwhelmed by how all my fears of not being accepted or rejected for who I was or who they were……..were baseless. More than 60 people of all ages and creeds and religions gathered together here and totally ignored all that silly shit and simply LOVED one another and saw to it that NOBODY felt different. It was, perhaps I said this already…..spiritual.
And Bonnie, I want you to know that I will never forget how you took me aside and asked me what had happened to me in my childhood. I didn't expect that, and you wanting to know, and caring about it, meant everything in the world to me. Thank you. I will love you forever for that.
Next chapter, the return……….as soon as I recover from writing this one.
P.S. It took me so long to write this I didn't have time to install all the pictures I wanted, but I promise to devote a whole post to a pile of pics sure to delight those who were there and maybe even those who weren't.
Up until departure time, THE Wife was not entirely sure she would be able to accompany due to some family issues of her own, but came the day and she felt she could come. According to the weather reports I had glanced at, I had assumed we would be passing through a mild weather front that might shower us a few times, but it turned out to be one long gray journey through some nasty, cold rain that persisted all the way to Mobile, Alabama. Now, let me back track slightly and tell you about some trip planning considerations……..
The entire drive to South Toledo Bend State Park in Louisiana was Google Mapped to come in around 12-13 hours. That would have had us getting up at some ungodly hour and getting there fairly late if we left on the day the cabin was available. Oh, the cabin……before we left I finally arranged to share a cabin with my cousin Tammy and her husband Steve, who were flying in from California. Otherwise it would have been a tent site, and it's been years since these old bones have had to experience camping out in cold nights. We split the cost with them so it wasn't that expensive. So, as it turns out, a Blogger friend of mine who I have know for many years now, Jules, had informed me that her and her husband were dying to meet us and would be more than happy to put us up for the night if we decided to drop by while passing through. This was providence at it's best! Mobile Alabama is just about halfway between here and there and the overnight stop would afford me the leisure to stop off at my Grandfathers' old place long enough to see what shape it was in and take pictures for the other cousins to see. The property is in probate since my Grandmother passed away, and the proceeds of it being sold would be spit amongst the aunts and uncles, including me, who has survived my late mother. I had an idea I might want to try and acquire the place myself, being on a bayou and all, but I changed my mind about that once I saw the place. Mother nature had reclaimed the plot to such an extent that it would cost as much to rehabilitate it as it would be to purchase it.
So, we stopped off in Freeport, Florida, I did my reminiscing, and we continued on our way to Mobile, Alabama, following the directions Jules had given me over e-mail. We pulled up to this really cute house across the street from a little canal, and Jules and her husband Blan came out to usher us into the backyard to park. Thus began a very pleasant night in which we got to meet this "old friend" of mine for the first time, sharing a nice dinner with them and getting to know them better. All this time I had only known Jules through comments to my blog, but I knew instinctively that she was good people, and believe me, they are! We all had a wonderful time getting to know each other! Before we left Jacksonville, THE Wife had expressed misgivings about spending a night with "people we didn't know", but the really funny thing about it was that Jules confided in me that her husband had expressed the same feelings, and now we all have this running joke about the "serial killers" coming to spend the night.....lol! They even drove us down to the marina to show off the small sailboats they love to sail out in the bay with other members of their unpretentious "yacht club". I think I made yet another pair of friends for life, in no small measure due to my blog and having followers who have actually come to grow fond of "THE Michael" and the telling of his life on his blog.
The next morning, we got up bright and early so that we could continue our journey and they could get to work, but I hadn't gotten much sleep. I'm sure most of my readers can empathize with me when I state that a mattress can be a very personal thing, and this mattress was much to hard for me to sleep on. I do not fault my gracious hosts for this, but it did remind us why we brought along an inflatable queen sized air bed that we knew we could tolerate other than our own bed, which has lots of layers of foam to cushion our aging bodies. We would deploy that mattress on our return trip, as we did at the cabin.
We left Jules and Blan with the admonition to stop again on our return, and we parted feeling so good about our experience meeting these wonderful people. I thought I liked Jules from what she would write to me in comments and the occasional letter. Now I knew I liked her AND her husband a lot more than I ever thought I would. Thank you so much, you wonderful people, for trusting us and being there for us when we needed a place to rest our bones. These invitations go both ways. Sunny Florida awaits you when you head out OUR way!
IF YOU ARE UNDER 18, PLEASE STOP READING NOW AND HAVE AN ADULT EXPLAIN THIS SECTION TO YOU!
So, the weather had improved remarkably by this next morning and we continued on our way in sunshine. Let me tell you, if the speed limit on interstate highways was still at 55, I would have been one unhappy camper. I happen to be one of those who thinks 70 miles-per-%&@#&$-hour is damn fast enough, but the majority of Americans have gotten so used to instant- every-damn-thing that I usually end up being the slowest car on the road, these idiots blowing by me at 85 MPH or faster. And yes, America, the highway patrol is still busy out there ruining your insurance rates and adding points to your license, all because you all think you are so $#@&^%$ SPECIAL! (This rant was brought to you by the National Association of just how $%@&&%$ fast do you need to go?) I want to apologize to sensitive ears for my language, but sometimes I have this keen interest into getting my point across, and nothing does it better than those old American standbys, the four letter words. So sue me.
(While editing this, I simmered down, a cooler head prevailed, and I censored myself somewhat. Don't come back here expecting me to always be this considerate. Grin....)
So, finally, after a few fill-ups, a thrilling drive though the downtown traffics of New Orleans and Baton Rouge, in which crazy people tried to kill us, and thanks to google maps, we made our way into the South Toledo Bend State Park, located on the border of Louisiana and Texas. It was nice not having to venture into Texas, because, quite frankly, 8 plus years of Texas was plenty enough for me. Besides, being an American without a passport, I probably would have been considered illegal anyway and promptly arrested by some Ranger. Texas has been itching to succeed from the union and I will gladly wave bye bye if they are ever allowed to do so. Just don't think you're taking any nuclear weapons with you. If we're not letting Iran have any, we SURE as hell aren't letting YOU play with them….he he.
Hey, laugh, I joke a lot, OK? I love you guys, even the Texans.
We stopped off at the park office to pick up a cabin key, which of course they didn't have, but we did get a nice piece of stiff red paper to hang on our rear-view mirror. Then we drove straight to the camping area we expected the rest of the clan to be gathering at and boy, were there CLAN. All KINDS of clan. The cousins had reproduced and now we OWNED this place. It was such an emotional moment for me, leaping (OK, fine, I don't leap so well anymore but I got out of the car somewhat faster than usual) out of the car and embracing Aunts and Uncles and Cousins I had not seen in SO, SOOOOOO many years. And, of course, I shook hands and hugged the various spouses that accompanied the relations. They all welcomed Gail into their club with equal affection, and before too long she was not feeling so much the outsider.
Then, after awhile, we made our way to the cabin, and let me tell ya, these cabins are NICE! They come with two bedrooms, one with a queen sized bed, the other with two bunk beds. The living room has a fold-out couch. There's one bathroom (which is a minor annoyance when you have several families sharing) and a kitchen, completely stocked with dishes and utensils, and towels and linens were included. We brought the food and booze since Tammy and Steve had to fly in from California, and homeland security makes it hard to smuggle a rack of baby-back ribs onto a jet. Since WE were sharing the cabin with THEM, we got the bunk bed room, which of course wasn't working for us, being the pansy-ass-gotta have-the-perfect mattress couple that we were, so later that night we blew up the air mattress in the living room and slept there, once the initial day and night of getting aquatinted wound down. It had a wood burning stove, also, but we never got around to using it, instead depending on the central air to defend us against the frigid cold of the night. We did some visiting, then Steve and I got some wood and charcoal going on the outside grill and cooked us up some chicken breasts and ate some of them with baked beans and salad. OK, fine, we ended up having to NUCK them in the microwave to finish them off, they were so thick. Some cavemen WE turned out to be…sheesh!
And, of course, I had brought along my make-shift karaoke system and set that up in the living room and we had a blast singing the night away.
Then we wore ourselves out talking and comparing notes and eventually in the wee hours of the morning we said our goodnights. Of course, physics tends to screw with the best laid plans of mice and wives, so we blew up the air mattress (it has a built-in air pump so no, no lungs are required) and set it on the.........you guessed it.....cold tiled floor. OK, yes, an air mattress can be nice and cushy and comfortable, but it is filled with AIR, and air quickly picks up the ambient temperature of whatever it's in contact with, which in this case was this suck-the-heat-right-out-of-everything stone tile floor. So, in no time at all, we were trying to fall asleep on a slab of very cold mattress, and all the blankets in the world wasn't helping. We didn't get any sleep that night either, but hey, with this kind of excitement, who the hell needs sleep?
Hey, this was only day one, Thursday. Two more days to go! Stay tuned for another exciting episode in which THE Michael gets adopted by an adoring teenage cousin once removed.
Greetings, and welcome back to The Chronicles of Pendragon Hold, that acre of Florida sand where nothing ever happens…..until now. Yes, I, your intrepid host THE Michael, have been on an extended sabbatical, and believe me, I had my reasons. I used to believe that there would never be a time that I could ever consider not blogging, for I have always had this deep-seated need to express myself, and having discovered such a wonderful vehicle to do so in the form of Blogger, I figured I'd be doing it forever.
Then my melancholy set in. Call it my second childhood, my mid-life crisis, or just plain old running out of things to say, but it just wasn't working for me. As you all well know, I have certain beliefs and opinions concerning politics and religion and I have never been one to be shy about expressing them. However, there is a price to pay for actually caring about what's going on in the world; it can raise your blood pressure, make you see red, and inch you just that much closer to a chemical imbalance. Also, there's the fact that we all have issues, some more private than others, that we can't or shouldn't be airing in a blog. I have maintained a certain anonymity with this blog but a lot of people nonetheless know who I am so I still have to censor myself to some degree lest I piss off people I have no desire to piss off. And, quite frankly, aside from raging against the machine, there is sometimes, if not most times, absolutely anything worth blogging about concerning life here at the Hold. So there you have it. I want to get back to blogging, I really do. I enjoy the hell out of writing and some people even suggest I do it well. I love those people. Smile…….Whatever, I will try and resume my duties here as chief cook and Harper of Tall Tales at Pendragon Hold, but please don't expect me to produce the level of award winning content you were used to consuming in the past. I have standards to maintain. Stop laughing.
So, without further adea, I invite you to share in the most amazing week this man can remember having since mankind settled on just how many days a week should last. To hear the Christians tell it, God pooped out after seven days and we've been stuck with that odd number ever since. It could be worse. It could be metric.
This all actually started way back in 1981 when the Patriarch of the (due to our policy here at the Hold of a smidgen of Privacy, we shall refer to the clan as "Smith") Smith Clan passed away and the family assembled for the funeral. It was the last time that yours truly experienced the full impact of this family numbers wise, and I met a few individuals who would impact me in remarkable ways. However, as families tend to do, we all went back to our separate lives and continued to live them each in their own fashion, to the point that many of us totally lost contact with the others, and it seemed we spread out to all points on the compass. I had A LOT of cousins, most of them teenagers or younger at that time, and these cousins all grew up to raise their own families, some quite large. They also engaged in their own faiths and creeds, ranging from hard core Catholics all the way to Pagans, each with their own closely held beliefs and opinions, temperaments, and lifestyles. Another words, your average American family. But we had many of us lost track of ourselves as a Clan.
Many years later and relatively recently, an Aunt I had maintained spotty contact with enabled me to make Facebook contact with two of my cousins, one in Texas and another In Taiwan, the "other" China. We became acquainted to some extent but it was hit or miss. I even had confused the one cousin, which previously I hadn't even known existed, with another cousin whom I did, for they both shared the same first names. It was confusing there for awhile to say the least. Anyway, let's fast forward to the present day.
Then my Uncle Norman died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. Norman was my Aunt June's ex-husband but still the father of his children and the loss was tragic to everybody who knew him, including me. He and Aunt June were there for me many times in my life when I needed a hand up. I remembered the man quite fondly, even though it has been decades since I last saw him. However, what's really remarkable about this is what his death set off. Next thing you know, thanks to Face Book, all these cousins began to come together and discover each other thanks to this remarkable networking miracle. By spreading the word about Uncle Norm, we all began to reconnect, some having not seen each other since that day in 1981. I have very strong memories of the group as a whole but of certain individuals in particular which awoke in me a joy at the prospect of hearing from them once again. And, next thing you know………I discovered that a once bitter and neglected child buried deep inside of me, once a product of a foster home, had to be dealt with. And he was. Yes, my friends, after all these many, many years, he indeed was.
So, once the reconnections became hot and heavy between 20-something long-lost cousins, aunts and uncles, we of course started planning the big reunion. And those of us who for one reason or another were closer became even more so. Since I was an only child, I had not experienced the sensation of siblings, but several of my female cousins happily stepped in and adopted me thus. AND, as an added bonus, one of my new "Sister's" daughter has decided that I am "Uncle" Michael. I wish I could convey the emotions all of this has stirred in me. I really wish I could. I am still trying to soak it all in. So there has been many emails and chats online for months now, and I have gotten to know many of my cousins pretty well without actually having met them yet. But, still, the meeting had to happen, and that's where my voyage REALLY began……..
OK, This is going to take awhile, and both my fingers and my heart need a break. So I will spell check this and get it posted before starting on chapter two of what might encompass a whole bunch of them. This is emotional for me so bear with me. This is about love.
P.S. If you look closly at the photo, third guy from the left with the long hair holding a baby, that's me, the oldest of the cousins, holding Angie, the youngest of the cousins in my arms.
I'm rather rabid about protecting my "rights", while at the same time recognizing that none of us are truly born with any real right to anything. What we actually enjoy, at least in this country, are "allowances". We are allowed by those in power to presume that we can say what we want, do what we want, think what we want, all within a framework of manageable chaos which we call democracy. You need only observe the machinations of the Bush Administration or the Putin Regime to understand that this freedom we take so much for granted is a tenuous concept at best. The right people in the right place will dictate just how free any one of us are to live our lives as we see fit.
I also happened to notice, while I was growing up and learning all about rights and how few of us really understand what they are, that with rights come responsibilities which few of us are aware of or are too lazy to embrace. So, I think I have the right to think and say anything I damn well please, but I also have a responsibility to exercise that right in such a way as not to harm someone either deliberately or by negligence. I WILL fail in this endeavor, but I WILL cling to the defense that I am at least trying. Most people, of course, are not going to concern themselves to much by how "getting theirs'" is going to effect those around them, because a "free" society also tends to be a very self-centered society. You might argue this point, but while you are dragging out your big guns, let me give you THIS broadside. You would think that social evolution would deal with problems as they arise and solve them, rather than create them. Really? Then tell me why, before Ronald Reagan came along, no one used the word "homeless" very much? Tell me why, then, are the mentally ill gunning down people in wholesale numbers instead of being managed by a mental health system that SURELY should have a clue by now as to how to deal with these people, who, incidentally, are simply you and me just one emotional upheaval away? Tell me why, in the name of free enterprise, we seem to have forgotten the idea of national interest, such as keeping OUR citizens employed and off the streets rather than shipping their livelihoods overseas so that third world nations can aspire to be just like us? (Third world nations, I might point out, that hate our guts, and sadly, have every right to.)
We are afraid of each other. So damn intent are we to protect our "rights", we see to it that every citizen has the right to arm themselves, even if we end up arming the very people we are arming ourselves against. It seems we would much rather shoot someone needing our help then to simply help them, unless of course, they have the good grace to shoot themselves once their rampages are out of the way. Then we bath in the media circus that always follows, following the pointing fingers, then going back to our self-centered lives and trying not to think about the next massacre that will surely happen, because, after all, we are no longer our brother's keeper, are we?
I WILL practice my rights as I see fit, as long as the police state allows me to. My practice of rights does not happen to include owning a pristine, green lawn devoid of all life other than one genetically engineered species of grass. It does not include contaminating my water table with herbicides and pesticides and all those other poisons we can pour on a yard. It doesn't include seeing to it that my neighbors are worshipping the right God, or bringing the righteous weight of moral society down upon their sinful heads if they aren't. It doesn't include living my life as though my being at the top of the food chain really means I'm a superior species that needs no regard for his fellow creatures. It does mean that I will keep jacking my jaws, pointing out the obvious, and maybe not-so-obvious, until my turn comes up and I get to die just like everybody else.
Or is that a responsibility?
You tell me.
What will be YOUR legacy? Will it be the words carved into granite that loved ones think will define you? Will it be a short synopses in an obituary that could hardly come close to telling strangers who you were? Will it be the memories you left them that will slowly fade as the generations you left behind turn back to their own lives till they themselves pass beyond the veil?
There are precious few ways for the common man to leave behind a lasting legacy. The names we all know and recognize from the history books each in their own ways left behind them a reason to be remembered by the collective, some for good things, others for bad, but never for having lived an ordinary life. Such the pity. Sometimes, if you are lucky, someone will tell you the story of someone they once knew, who made an impact upon them, and that name, for that moment, will live a bit longer, but then, it will find it's way into the cosmic trash-can and be gone forever. That has always been the fate of the common man, a fate I believe challenges the fairness of this kind of fame. If immortality can be described as being remembered by the living for as long as children are born and told of what came before, then it seems one CAN live forever, if history in itself can be described as a path to immortality. And who can say that EVERY man is not as equally deserving of being remembered?
So, what will be MY legacy? Till recently, short of some epiphany striking me out of nowhere causing me to invent something as powerful as cold fusion, anti-gravity, or a bra strap that any man can unhook easily, I was convinced that my legacy would be as short lived and extinct as anyone's.
Then came Blogger.
Since I began to record my thoughts and my life in this medium, open to all, there are now countless more individuals aware that I exist. It is even possible that if I were to die tomorrow, my words and thoughts would live on, preserved, quite possibly forever, in this electronic mind that holds the thoughts of millions of people. Those that come across my blog would not read some artful snippet that said I died of whatever, lived on what street, and was survived by whom, but rather they would read what I had to say about my life and what I believed it amounted to. Is that not perhaps a new kind of legacy that levels the playing field of memories populated by the likes of Edison, Hitler, Roosevelt, and Einstein? No, I will never be mentioned in history books: my name will never end up as an answer to a test question, and there will not be a block of stone with my name on it listed as a "must-see" stop on some tourist map. But, I will remain. Here. And people will always be able to visit me, and even continue the conversation with comments, albeit ones that can not be replied to.
THAT could be MY legacy.
As well as YOURS.
Say your piece now. Say it loud, say it proud. Tell your grandchildren about your grandparents. Let your future widow's suitor know why she's so worth loving. Let all those people you tip-toed around all your life know what you REALLY felt about them. Trust in the truth to always set you free, and realize that your truth can't be everybody else's. Slip in some uncomfortable facts between the lines and hope no one notices before that time when judgment is moot. Accept how ordinary you are, despite the outside chance, to someone at least, you never were. If you happen to be superficially beautiful, or outstandingly ugly, set that aside now, because it won't matter where you are going. Be prepared to meet in heaven the people you condemned to hell, and vice versa, for vanity and ego are blind. And if you are one of those lucky individuals, who, perhaps, through cosmic malfunction, returns for another stab at life and remembers this one, then go back and log onto Blogger, just to refresh your memory, and perhaps come to terms with who you once were, and what you meant in the grand scheme of things.