third coast

1 10 2009


As I drove back down here to the Mrs.’ place early on Monday morning, the car felt like it was a ping pong ball in a lotto cage.  When we lived in Spain it was hard to explain to people that the Great Lakes were more like little oceans than placid lakes.  Gales at this time of year, mostly made famous by Gordon Lightfoot, are no small thing.  Winds out of the west made for some fun as I firmly grasped at 10 and 2 trying to keep my small black Fast from being lifted like a fly.  There were storms inside my head at the same time.

Last Friday morning the big box truck snugged up close to the breezeway kept the embarrassment to a minimum.  There were old refrigerators with the bottoms rusted out to be hauled.  Lots of odds and ends I couldn’t drag up the stairs myself.  So I hired someone to do that part.  It wasn’t like we had had to look at a dumpster filling up for months on end like a red flashing light for the neighbors to see our dirty little secret.  No.  Under the cloak of darkness, week after week, bag after bag I made stuff disappear.  This job was as much about preserving the Mrs.’ dignity as it was cleaning out the basement.  In two hours time, two guys filled that truck with the last of the big stuff.

Why did Billy keep so many little bottles…boxes…bags filled with gaskets…gadgets…gunk?  To be honest, there have been many moments that I have been down right angry over the whole mess.  None of us who are parents will escape this voyage…our children will look at the choices we have made and ask why.  They will do things differently, be motivated by different passions, spend their money when and where they please and maybe not give two hoots about the things that have sentimental value to us.

Billy was by no means a stingy man but one marked by extreme generosity. I don’t think he was a compulsive horder demonized by OCD.  He was probably more typical of his generation than most people are willing to admit.  Born seven years before Black Tuesday then raised during leaner years than most of us have ever had to endure, it just became part of his nature.

More than once in the last week, I’ve closed my eyes only to be haunted by things I’ve touched.  Like his obsession to keep in the event of need – I got paralyzed by wanting to give perfectly good junk that I don’t need, a new recycled – repurposed life outside of the landfill.  Landfills…Landslide…

Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

The technical work in the basement is done.  We now have to wait for the rainy season to see if it gives the promised results.  There are a few more weeks of work till it is all said and done.  The concrete is curing.  Monday a new utility tub will be set – washer / dryer reconnected.  Then I’ll move on to a three week process of spraying the walls with a bleach solution to kill off the end of the mold.  We hope.  Down the road – we can even dream of slapping some masonry paint up.  Maybe that will be my winter project.  Or maybe spring.

Another season…the Mrs. had me help her get all the decorations up for the fall.  October was always a special month – given that Billy’s birthday was on Halloween.  The neighbor from across the street called to say that she is enjoying the lights and thanked me for helping the Mrs. keep up with things that are important to her.

So I leave you with Stevie singing that tune…and feel myself on a typical let down slide.  But not for long.  Just till the Awaited One decides it is time to shake things up again.

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?

Truth be told – I’d do this all again if I had to.  He was my Dad and he was worth it.