Birthday Letters

On January 16, 1943 my dad was born.  I don’t know anything about his birth.  Whether he was born in a hospital or at home.  Whether he was a good baby or a tyrant.  How much he weighed or if he sucked his thumb.

Today if he were still living, he would have turned 70 years old.

He wrote himself a birthday letter a fews years back.   I happen to have a copy.

Jan-1998

Happy Birthday, Bob—–Happy 55 years.  A real milestone.  I feel like celebrating this b.d.,  unlike my 30th, which went by unnoticed.  Unlike my 40th which went by with hardly a ripple or even my 50th, supposedly the biggie, hardly made a dent on my psyche.

But 55 is the short side of the century mark.  So that makes it a milestone in my books, and I’m finally at the age where it makes not a tinkerers damn about anyones books but my own.

A brief synopsis—–I was born into a family of five siblings, a bootlegger father, and my mother was a housewife.  My family was mildly dysfunctional to say the least, my parents divorced when I was 11 and my mother struggled to keep her brood together.

I went to High school here in town, finally got laid, got drunk and enlisted in The Marine Corps just a few days after graduation.  Spent four years in The Corps, traveled around the world, went to work for various construction companies in West Texas and never once let college cross my mind.  Made a lot of parties—-a few friends and generally went around with my heart on my sleeve.

Anne, my wife and I had a wild, roller coaster, wonderful relationship from day one when we met in The Crystal Lounge bar, a downstairs dark, dank place where people drank, fought and loved with equal fervor.

Anne had two boys from a previous marriage that I was too young and dumb to see the joy in.  We later had two daughters that have remained the light of my life to this day.  The boys have forgiven my shortcomings and remain friendly toward me, too.  Thanks boys.

55 years—-that must seem like an eternity to someone in their 20’s or thirties, but to me it has been but a short journey on this meandering train we call life.  Meandering, wandering, everlooking for the path of least resistance, just like the nameless creek near Hoover, Texas where I gathered clover blossoms to plait into a braid for Anne’s hair.

                                                                                                                                                  ~1998~

Happy Birthday Dad—-happy 70th.  Two birthdays have now passed since you left us.  And lots has happened.  I miss you, but it does get easier with time, but there are still days that sadness is all around me, thick as fog.   I love you more than I ever have, and I’m so thankful for your writings that you left us.  I feel I know you better now than I ever did in real life.  I wonder why we feel like we can’t open up to others, and especially the ones who love us most?  I know I’m just as guilty.

You were a good dad.  That’s probably all  you  wanted to hear while you were living, and I don’t know if I ever told you.  But you were.   I wouldn’t change it for anything.

You tried your best, I know that now.  It’s certainly not easy being a parent, I know that now too.

I never realized just how tender you were.  You were always so tough and big and strong, that I guess I didn’t think about your feelings much.  I’m sorry for that.

Thanks for being a number one dad to me.  Thanks for supporting me in everything I ever did.   Thanks for taking time to spend with me, even if it was laying in the floor taking kissing bets during a bowling tournament on T.V. or skipping rocks on the Illinois.  I have fond memories, and those are what I carry with me now.  It’s all I’m left with, the memories and your stories.

You’d really love Emma.  Sometimes I imagine that you are here and see you laugh at her or hug her close.  She reminds me of you sometimes.  Especially now as she’s learning to walk.  She’s got this stumble about her, that’s very Grandpa-esque.  Or sometimes they way she lays while she’s sleeping or a look on her face makes me think of you.  You are a part of her.

I know you’re in Heaven and I’m going to be there someday too.  It’s good that this life isn’t all we’ve got, isn’t it?  So, until we meet again Dad, enjoy yourself, and I’ll do the same.  There’s much happiness here still, and memories to make with others.

I love you bigger than Hog Eyes and Sauerkraut Mississippi.

Until then……

Love,

Angel

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11 months

Dear Emma Kate,

How did this happen?  I blinked twice, maybe only once, and you have been with us now for 11 months.  My goodness, this is zooming so fast.  It makes my mama heart sad knowing your littleness is gone forever, and knowing that the next 18 years will fly past as well, but it makes my mama heart happy each and every day as I watch you grow and learn.

You are quite the little girl!  And you have so many people who just adore you.  There is no other way to say that.

This month you are standing alone really well and have just begun to take one or two steps as long as you have something ahead of you that you can grab onto.  I know as soon as you get the courage to go, you will be all over the place!

You are talking up a storm too.  You attempt to repeat many words when told what something is, but you can plain-as-day-say mama, dada, ash, night night, horse, ball, bye-bye.  You can almost-plain-as-day-say Grace, cat, I love you, bath.

You love music, singing, and dancing.  You sway back and forth singing a precious little “la-la” when its a soft song, and you bounce up and down and throw in some Elvis legs when you really want to get down.

You are a serious child mostly, and only let loose around people you feel comfortable with.  In a strange place around unfamiliar people, you study and watch and observe.

Climbing is your thing.  You climb on anything you can easily reach, and you think it’s great fun to get in small spaces like cabinets or to sit on things like boxes.

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You celebrated your first Christmas and learned pretty quickly what that was all about.  Of course it took a while and you wanted to stop and play with all your toys.  You loved each and every one, except the pony we got you!  It is a bit scary to you for now.

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Sleeping.  It just isn’t happening still.  You my dear, will sleep when you’re old I guess.  Its a struggle; not to get you to go to sleep, but to get you to stay asleep.  We’ve tried it all, and the best I can figure is you do best with a routine and  lately that isn’t happening with the holidays and traveling and moving to a new state.  I hope soon it will all settle down and become normal again.

We went to see your favorite book, Pete the Cat’s author at a school where I used to work and you are all but old enough to start going to school.  You loved the children and when he started reading “I Love My White Shoes”, you crawled towards the stage and sat attentively.  It was so cute!

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Even though you are super cute, setting limits is our next job with you it appears.  You have started doing some things that mama and daddy don’t think are so cute.  Like throwing fits and food.  As much as we’d love to let you have everything you want, it would turn you into a brat, and brats aren’t any fun to be around.  There will be times when it seems like we’re being mean, but we’re only loving you the best we can.

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I love you so much!  The past 11 months have been a joy for me.  I’m trying to take it all in.  I can’t slow down time, as much as I wish I could, but each day I’m trying to make last.

xoxo,

Mama

 

Just Because

Just because it’s Tuesday (I think).

Just because she’s 9.5 months old (tomorrow).

Just because she hasn’t pulled her hair bow out or her socks off (yet).

Just because she’s been under the weather and today is the first day in nearly a week that she is back to her old self (almost).

Just because before I know it, she’s going to be walking (or driving) (or both).

Just because she’s adorable (totally).

Just because.

Picture Perfect

After we buried my dad February of last year, I drove back to Texas basically with a pickup, plants, and a photograph.

The pickup still sits in front of my yard, longing for a spin around town.

The plants, I’m proud to say, are flourishing.

And the photo sits on a shelf in my dining room.

It was one of his favorites.  At one point, being technologically disinclined, he asked my sister to put it as his profile pic on his Facebook page.  I don’t know how he expected her to do that, as he had the picture in a frame two states over, but nevertheless.

It’s a tiny picture, maybe a 3 X 5 in a cheap brass frame with parts of the frame chipped.  It displays a much younger us.

I remember the day.  Thanks to a generous landlord aunt, my sister had recently scored a cheap one bedroom rent house, albeit in need of some TLC.  I was helping her paint, when our dad showed up to check on our progress.  I’m covered in paint.  He’s not.  The hat I’m wearing leaves me to question.  Was I painting in that hat or was it on his head and I put it on mine?  I don’t recall the detail.

On the back, he’s written, “me & ang, yukking it up in ’91”

I can’t remember the exact conversation, but I know it went something like this:  my sister holding a camera, my dad draping his arm around me, my sister telling us to say “cheese”, and right before the camera snapped, my dad sucked in his gut, and I busted out laughing.

“Yukking it up in ’91” he called it.

If I’d  known then that we had only twenty more years together.  Twenty years.  It sounds like a long time when you say it, but it sure goes by fast. What would I have done differently?  Anything?

Throughout those years, we had many more times of “yukking it up”, and I’m grateful for every one of them.

But I can’t help but wish we could have one right now.

Miss you dad.

In Memory of my dad—number forty something

The green spiraled journal draws me in.

It belonged to my dad.

The very first thing I bought when I became an adult was a storage building.  It sits on my mom’s property (once upon a time it was my grandmother’s property) and my dad put a few boxes of belongings in there nearly twenty years ago.   In one of the boxes was this journal.

On the cover he has printed:
The Journals of Robert Lee—-soldier, statesman, author.

It is filled with his thoughts, his hopes, his disappointments, his memories.
Stuffed between the written pages he has a few cards from loved ones, pictures of my sister and I, and bills from the IRS.

I love this journal, although it is mostly sad.  He wrote when he was going through a very difficult time, of which I was completely unaware, but heck I was a kid then, barely out of high school, and completely wrapped up in my own life.

I discover that I didn’t really know my dad.  But who really did?

He hurt more than I know, and I don’t mean physically.

Today is the 15th of April, 1996.  Tax Time for most folks, but to me it is different.   Today I join the ranks of the homeless.  I haven’t learned a lot in my 53 short years aboard this planet, but I’ve learned this, we are just a short journey from this predicament that I find myself in right now.  It’s a feeling that I don’t wish on friend or foe, but I’ll come out of the water bushed and gasping of air, out of breath and hoping for a low hanging limb from which this wrecked body needs just a minute to catch it’s breath.  Then I’ll fight onward, searching for new friends, looking in familiar haunts for a few old compatriots, who’ll say—welcome ol’ shoe, come sit awhile and rest.

April 18, 1996—
It’s not good being homeless, but I have been getting reacquainted with my mother.  Before I was always in a  hurry when I went to see her, but now we are taking the time to talk to each other.  Today we spoke of my grandparents, the last who died in 1975.  I wish that I could have gotten to know them.

As I reread this journal, no as I pore over his words, I get the “missing my dad blues”.   The “If only’s”  The “I wish”.  It doesn’t help that its a rainy day in July either.  Much like my dad wrote on the page he titled, “July or is it June 27?”

I moved into my new digs yesterday.  Went to the store and bought boloney and beer.  It’s a cloudy, dismal day, in fact I’ll call this place “The Dismal Swamp”  It’s a dump, held together with spit n’ glue, but at least the neighbor’s are nice—which means that they don’t bother me or even come out of their own hovels.  I’m into Charles Bukowski, poet, short stories, novels, drinker extraiordinairre.  Life is good as we let it be.

He was phenomenal with the written word.
Dawn comes on a silvery black flash that gently turns to a pale blue as the sun makes it’s ascent into the morning sky.  Departure time is steadily approaching and I feel a twinge of excitement as the clock ticks onward toward the time of making my exit.  My brother warned me about this happening, he said, “don’t let one year turn into ten” when I first moved here for just a year.  Well, June marks the 10 year span that I’ve spent here in Green Country.  I can see the changes here in Okla.  that have occurred since coming here.  Mainly, traffic flow, the driving here is atrocious.  But that does not take from  the few close friends that I have made here.  I’ll always appreciate them.

He was funny.
“Guess I’ll go by leon’s house and see if he wants to go fishing with me n’ doc tomorrow—-it is the fourth of July and we do live in the bosom of democracy, so why not fish.  Uh Oh.  Outta beer.  So I’ll take to task the advice of my ol’ mentor and friend, Horace Greely—-Go West—-about 2 miles—–the have Busch on sale.” 

11-19-96
Keeping a journal and trying to keep sounding interesting is so boring.

Yes, dad I agree with that one whole heartedly!  He continues…..

My life is boring, but the mundane way of life is peaceful.  Living quiet has it’s own reward.

He got lonesome and had regrets.

Nov. 24, 1996
I dreamed of Jo and Angel night before last.  They were small and cuddly and we laughed and played.  I awoke all discombobulated and out of sync.  It’s good to dream old dreams.  I miss the girls so much.  I hope Angel is doing all right out there in the west.  She is so private it’s hard to find out anything from her.  Joley has John so I don’t worry about her so much.  Joley is my little mother.  I know that she will see to it that I am taken care of.  I hope that I never need it tho.  I’m sorry now that I didn’t know how to love the girls’ mother.  Hindsight has perfect vision.  But I just didn’t know, and for that I am sorry. 

Jan. 13, 1997
I’m lonesome and being broke don’t help.  I’d visit an axe murderer if he’d stop by my digs. 

Although these notes are sad and some remorseful, I receive peace when I read them.  I know how much my dad loved me.  There was never a time I doubted that.  He wrote of it many times.  His heart was full of love.

I am the proud father of 4 children.  Two boys and two girls.  How this mixed blessing came about, I’m not exactly sure.  It just came at me out of the blue, kinda like a fighter with a good left hook.

I also receive comfort knowing I’ll see him again.

Feb 7th or 8th
I know God is my friend and I hope he lets me hang around for a few years.

Thanks God for the years.

There’s more.  There’s lots more.  But I’ll leave you with that for now.  I don’t think my old pop would mind me sharing this.  It helps me, and I know there are family and friends who miss him terribly.  I hope it helps them too.  Sometimes we just want to hear from our loved ones one more time and this is the way that I do that.  When I read these words, I hear his voice.  I see the twinkle in his eye.  I see him throw his head back when he thought something was funny,  yet keeping his laugh inside and quiet.

I see him in my baby girl too, little bits of him.  There are times I wish he could see her, but then I remember…..I’m pretty sure they’ve already met.

Mother’s Day #1

I got a new camera lens for Mother’s Day along with a salad spinner ( my request) and a bouquet of flowers.

I spent the car trip home from Lubbock playing with my new lens, capturing images of J-Dub driving, EK sleeping, Ashy posing, and maybe an accidental shot of the dials on the dashboard.

Afterwards I reviewed the pictures on my camera and found myself scrolling back. Farther and farther back, on this first Mother’s Day, back through the weeks and months. All the way back to January 28th at 4:20 when the doctor tugged a crying baby from my bulging abdomen after a very long and difficult labor that ended with a C-section.

Then my precious, post term, 7 lb baby was whisked to the NICU where the premature, sick babies go.  The place where I was told when I could touch my baby, that I couldn’t nurse my baby, and where I felt completely helpless.

My heart is so tender remembering that day. I feel anger and I feel sadness all rolled together in a snowball of grief.

As I scroll back through the photos, I’m so thankful to remember.
To remember how tiny she was, how different her hair laid, how red the little mark on her nose appeared, how wrinkled her skinny little fingers were.

Oh my goodness how I love her.

How I miss her tiny newborn self.

How fortunate I am to have her.

Although I can’t take all the credit, being her mom is the best thing I’ve ever done, the greatest gift I’ve ever been given, the most important job I’ll ever have.

To all the mothers out there…….I finally get it.

And it’s incredible.

In Memory of My Dad #41

 

I haven’t shared a story from my dad in several weeks.  There’s a good reason for this.  I’m out of stories by my dad; that I know of.   I haven’t gone through all the old newspapers, but it appears all that is left are sports news.   I’m confident no one cares to read the score of the Little League game from 1993.

My mom and I have been digging through shoeboxes looking for baby pictures of me to see if EK has any resemblance to me at all.  She doesn’t.  But I discovered a picture I’d never seen before.

My uncle Leon said my dad used to tell him, “I miss my little girls.  I mean, I miss my girls when they were little.”

I miss him too.

We had fun.

 

A New Body

It made many trips down I-40 from Tahlequah to Pampa.  It rode in the passenger seat of a red dodge pickup and when that vehicle wore out, a yellow Chevy pickup. 

When he died, it rode in the back of my vehicle one last time along with the potted plants sent with condolences and a couple of cardboard boxes of belongings.

When we arrived home, it sat in the floor of the spare bedroom right behind the door.  I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away.  I went about my day-to-day life and when I found time, I sorted through the cardboard boxes that had made the trip,  discarding unnecessary things.  But still, it remained. 

When the spare bedroom began changing into a nursery, it sat on the floor watching while paint went on the walls, and office furniture was replaced with a crib.  Like a child’s teddy bear with the eye missing and the stuffing coming out, it remained as a reminder.   

It wasn’t valuable.  It wasn’t decorative.  It wasn’t useful to anyone.  But it was such a part of him that I kept it around.  It’s funny how when someone dies, their everyday things become such strong reminders of them.  For my grandmother, it was a silver fingernail file that sat beside her chair.  She probably used it every day.  For my dad, it was a grimy, white Easter basket he used to carry his medication.  An Easter basket.  While other men have a satchel or a tote, or even a gallon size Ziploc bag, my dad used an Easter basket. 

“Take one daily with a meal.”  “For management of high cholesterol, take one each day.”  “Take each morning and evening.”  The instructions on each bottle kept him going for several years.  High blood pressure, cholesterol, blood thinners, aspirin.

When New Year’s Day 2012 rolled around, sadness overcame me.  A new year, a new beginning, only without him.  Moving ahead, moving on, I knew I must.  But I didn’t know how.  And then I was reminded: 

“For instance, we  know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—-and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again.” 2 Corinthians 5:1 The Message

My dad no longer needed his pills.  It was just a sad reminder to me of the temporary body that burdened him.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.  We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 

On Monday January 2, I carried the basket to the dumpster and set it in.  Don’t think I didn’t consider taking it out and bringing it back in the house throughout the day.  I was home on Tuesday, the 3rd, when the loud roar of the trash truck pulled up.  I heard the lifting of the dumpster, the bang of the lids as it flipped over.  I imagined the dirty Easter basket and the bottles of pills scattering as they fell.  I sat on the couch as the truck roared away, thinking of my dad and his new body.  No longer sick.  No longer burdened.

Today, he would’ve been 69 years old.  He left this world February 26, 2011.

He is dancing. 

Happy Birthday, Dad. 

I love you.

Change and Creation—my year in review

I’m three days late, but I wanted to take some time and reflect on the year 2011. It’s long gone now,  but still deserves some time of remembrance. Any blogger worth their weight in blogging ability has already accomplished this feat, however, it’s me we’re talking about here.

I began this post a couple of days ago with the best of intentions, but I was (and still am) having trouble getting my thoughts nailed down to make it coherent, but alas, I’ll try. 

I’m experiencing mixed emotions about the new year, and about saying good-bye to the old.  This is a new phenomenon for me.  I usually wake up on January first of whatever year it happens to be, and go about my usual life.  Just another day.  But this January 1st, 2012, I found myself  at a crossroads.  There’s a song by the Bellamy Brothers where one line says, “he’s an old hippie and he don’t know what to do, should he hang on to the old, should he grab on to the new.”  Oh how I can  relate.

 Last January there was a movement if you will, instead of resolutions, choose a word for the year. A word that will define you. A word that you will focus on during the year.  Like hope or faith or happiness or fitness.  My friend Suzanne asked me what my word was.  I took a while to think, and finally I chose the word create. I wanted to create great writing.  I wanted to create a home for J-Dub and myself in our new country dump, I wanted to create a wonderful garden, a chicken coop, so many  new things. 

How little did I know that with creation comes change or perhaps change begets creation.  But I can look back now and affirm, create was my word. 

We lost my dad to a heart attack in February and I began to create a life of only memories.  Whether through facebook or blog comments or email or phone calls, we spoke daily.  I’m thankful for technology, for through that our relationship grew closer and we knew each other better than ever.  Creating a new life without him has been hard for me. 

Less than a month after burying my dad, J-Dub and I packed our horse trailer with boxes and furniture and moved to a place outside of town.  A place that needed (and still does) a lot of work.  We had spent the previous winter attempting to create a home for ourselves along with a  plethora of mistakes, problems and money that come with home improvements.  Moving is life changing and not knowing where the dadgum lightbulbs are kept is more than irritating.  Shortly after moving in, like 4 days, I got a box of little chicks in the mail and my life was changed forever!  I spent the spring and summer, raising those babies and adjusting to the country life with snakes in the front yard, water wells breaking, drought, wild fires and wind.  And with wind, lots and lots of dust. 

In May, I felt like I was losing my ever loving mind.  I believed Satan had come in and taken control of my body.  I felt like a raging lunatic, and then while on a trip visiting my dad’s grave for Memorial Day weekend, I discovered the cause of my angst.  I was pregnant.  So the summer was spent in shock and adjustment.  And the fall was spent in shock and adjustment.  And now that we are three weeks away from giving birth, I’m still in disbelief and adjusting.  Someone told me in a comment on this blog that God gives us nine months to prepare for childbirth.  I’m here to tell you, I probably could be a pretty good elephant because nine months isn’t enough time for me.

Although I desired to create great writing, and a wonderful home, and new and beautiful things in 2011, I never would have fathomed that I would create a daughter. What a change.  What a creation. What a scary experience.

Plans for building a new fence and putting up a barn were replaced with painting a nursery and choosing a name.  A whole new dimension has been added to my life.  God has given me a great task.  He has chosen me to be the mother of a little girl who I worry I won’t do right by. 

With this great task ahead, I find myself fearing the new year. Afraid of what it holds. I find myself walking by sight rather than faith, fearful of the next step.  And the one after that.  And the one after that. 

My 2011 was a year of adjustment. Lots of changes took place, the kind of changes that rate high up on the stress level list.  So why don’t I want to move on?  As I ponder, I decide it must be the familiarity of  the old and the fear of the new.  I am embarking on this new year,  expecting more changes and I’m frightened that the struggles I faced in 2011 will follow me into the new year. 

I’ve been weepy the last two days and it appears this day is no different.  My present prayer is that my sorrow will be turned to joy, my worry will be changed to rejoicing. 

Like the old hippie, should I hang on to the old or should I grab onto the new?

If I look to the scriptures, I am instructed to remember the days of old, remember what God has done for me, how He has carried me through, and then press forward to what is ahead, walk by faith, finish the race, and trust in the Lord.

Hang on or grab onto?  I’ll try to do both.

And so I go.

Happy 2012.

In Memory of My Dad #37—the bear and the bob

Merry Christmas Eve, friends.  I hope this evening finds you all blessed with love and family.  It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, due to several reasons that I won’t bore you with, but hopefully you aren’t holding it against me. 

I’ve had my supper consisting of grilled cheese, sweet pickles, and Classic Lays potato chips, which coincidentally is not  pregnancy related.  It’s just the way I roll.  I’ve got a steaming cup of hot cocoa excluding marshmallows beside my computer, the Christmas tree is aglow, the presents are wrapped, the pie remains unbaked and I have a Saturday story to share with you written by my dad in September of 1996. 

The weather was seasonably cool as I started my morning run.  The Doctor had told me to exercise a little bit, so I had started to do a small bit of roadwork.

I had been immobile for the last three weeks due to a summer cold.  A medico that I saw on morning television had said there was no such thing as a summer cold, only allergies.  Well, I know the difference between allergies and a summer cold, and Doc, I had a summer cold.

I used to run out on the Bertha Parker bypass but that was before I met Crazy Jack.  We’ve all had dealings with old C.J.  He’s the one that thinks the four-lane is the Indianapolis Speedway and the speed limits don’t apply.

Mama used to tell me, “Son, you’re going to get run over on that four-lane.”  So after  hitting the bar ditch a half-dozen times or so, I thought maybe Mama knows best and found me another route to get my morning exercise. 

Crazy Jack—he could be anyone.  Maybe he’s the teenager that Daddy let borrow the keys and he’s out to impress his friend.   He might be the harried young mom trying to drive while corralling three small children.  He could be the man who had a fight with his wife and is late for work,  he could be the young wife talking on her cellular phone, or he could simply be “blue hair driving in my lane.”  Truckers ain’t no day at the beach either.

Anyway, I was ready to resume my exercise regime after the hiatus.  The morning was gray and cool.  The night birds had stopped their calling and had given way to their daytime cousins when I struck out. 

The first quarter-mile or so would be the toughest, it’s uphill before making a mad dash across the four-lane, then a leisurely down hill jaunt before turning and heading back uphill and taking it to the barn. 

My breathing comes hard as I set out.  I must find a rhythm, I tell myself, and stick to it.  The traffic is fairly light at that hour so I don’t break a stride crossing and by now the beta-endorphins are pumping in my brain and my breathing evens out as I head toward the creek.  I feel strong.  I feel free.  I wish the route was three, four miles instead of just a shade over two.  I feel as if I could run forever.

“Pfft, Pfft, Pfft,” go my ragged Reeboks against the pavement.  The perfect measured stride of a long distance runner.  “Pfft, Pfft, Pfft,”  I want to shout with great exuberance because I feel so good.

I reached the cul-de-sac that marked my turning point of my measured run, when a light stitch started in my side.  I tried to ignore it and concentrated on the pain that started in my trick knee.  Is that the shuffling of the bear I hear?  Am I bear-caught so soon.  I wavered a bit in my stride. 

The bear was hungry and gaining on me.  I hit the steepest part of my route, and thought “only one-half more mile and it will all be over.”  My breath rasping deep in my lungs, I sounded like a wind-broke horse and I struggled up and onward.  I leaned into the run and tried to ignore the aches and pains that returned many-fold.  My ancient legs quivered as I struggled to put one foot in front of the other.

The bear has now become full-grown and  his growls give me a little strength as I continue my task.  My nose starts to run and I’m back on my heels at this point.  The bear catches me and jumps on my back as I hit the corner turn.  I’m ready to quit.

That’s when I saw her.  She was a winsome young thing, unaware of anyone being around.  She was dressed in nothing but a pale blue negligee with midnight blue panties.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to still my rasping breath and quiet my plodding feet as she ran through the dappled grass to retrieve the morning paper. 

She appeared to be reading the headlines as she stood there in the early morning sunlit yard.  Then she must have heard me—-she looked up and gave a startled yelp as she saw me approaching in my tattered running shorts and shoes.  She reminded me of a deer caught in the headlights of a poacher.  Then she made a dash back indoors.  I think an old man’s thoughts as I approach the four-lane.

My run, for all practical purposes, is over.  Then I think of nothing at all because I’m back in Crazy Jack’s territory and he could be out there, loaded for bear.

Bob Briggs 1943-2011