Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Lonely Race Car


Recently I've taken to archiving old family photos. I'm sure my father was rather proud of this one. It's a picture of a midget racer that he built himself from scratch, but I can't help wondering if he shared some of my feelings about it. I've named the photo "Lonely Race Car." The car built, after he lost all custodial rights to my brother and me, is a symbol of all he'd given up, as well as being his achievement. It's hard to even remember how I got the pic because we weren't able to see him during this time. I imagine my grandmother sent us a copy trying to bridge the chasm of our alienation. 

For many years when I looked at this picture. I felt a sense of pride at my father's accomplishments. Not only was my dad a top race car driver, but he raced motorcycles, and in his younger twenties a Golden Glove prize-fighter.  But in revisiting this photo I still feel an underlying sadness. Not only does this car represent the loss of my father, but the end of him being able act as my father. The car was actually named after his girlfriend. His friend Donny, told me that the name "Chris's Cross" was given, because it (his race car driving) was her cross to bear. Truly, the name "My Family's cross" would have been more accurate. I remember Donny laughing as he told me this story, but I remembered the heartbreak of feeling forgotten and passed over. It still stings a little after all these years. It's not there hasn't been forgiveness,  and it's not that there hasn't been acceptance, but the loss of a father affects a person over a course of a lifetime. I know some people have felt it terribly romantic to have a race car driver/boxer/motor cycle racer/all around sports enthusiast for a father but the passion and drive it required, took its toll on all of us. 

My father died at Westboro Speedway during a race. He wasn't in "Chris's Cross", or the usual one he drove for the man who sponsored him (Eddie's Deuce). The brakes were bad on that car. Turned out that the car that he finally chose to drive that day had bad brakes as well. I wasn't there. I had just seen my 12th birthday. The raceway has since been torn down, and replaced with a shopping center. I am grateful that my father died doing what he loved, but there is not a day that goes by, that I don't think of him, and wish I had a few more years. 

 It is odd having a father that died so young. I'm coming very close to doubling his life span now and I have had my way of taking risks. My dad never knew what it was like to become a grandfather, to deal with aging, or losing his parents. He preceded both of them on that account. It was just his time for whatever reason, and the lesson of loss learned early for my brother and I. That's just the way it works out for many of us.

My dad's memorial site.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Delicious Song

My heart swells; 
a dark crow
flitting from branch
to rooftop
to branch
occasionally balancing
on a wire above.
by the glitter.
Light floating everywhere
in the darkest of shadows.


....a warning 
 or a delicious song?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Riding The Wave of Depression vs Worshipping The Low Self-Esteem Deity

Recently, I celebrated another birthday.Yes, I'm now 57 years young.  Usually I have a couple of weeks of emotional upheaval before the birthday, but this year, it came after. There has been a lot of foot-dragging for the past week, but also, a lot of gratitude for the many wonderful things I have in my life that keep me going. I'm not quite sure, I could go through these dark times without my loved ones. It's not that they do anything special. It's just knowing they are there.

For nearly all my life, I have suffered from depression, and while I recognize it is a very common experience, I still find I buy into it for a couple of days when it first hits. Many things can trigger it. The wrong food,too many sweet things (alcohol is definitely a no-no), or even a minor argument with a friend....and even though I know many things that help turn it around, sometimes, the hopelessness renders me unwilling to do these things. I get angry. I'm not the type to feel justified in taking it out on others so I internalize. As the days go by though, I begin to step back into sanity, realizing the futility in indulging it. I read spiritual books, involve myself with artwork, throw myself into projects, whether it be cleaning the house, or doing a favor for a family member or a friend. Even writing this blog for my family and friends, is a way to step out of the fog depression tends to create in my life.

I have come to realize that at the bottom of this depression, is an unwillingness to accept life as it is appearing in the here and now. I feel out of control, helpless to change. Part of me knows that I just have to ride it through, and trust that my innate intelligence will find a solution, if I just keep showing up for my life the best way I can.

What triggered the episode this time was being too tired and an incident at a family gathering to celebrate my birthday and mothers day. One family friend, insisted on going over a litany of why he is worthless, and while I am sensitive to his dilemma, I felt once again I was cast as the reluctant caretaker. In short I felt invisible. Somehow the festivity had become about my friend, and not about celebrating my life, and the life of the friends, I had invited to share it with.  And while he may have been insensitive, it is not a criminal offense. I was very strong with him, and told him, that he always had a way of making conversation about himself, instead of an open exchange of ideas.When I finally stand up for myself, and take care of myself, I feel guilt.  If I wasn't so hard on myself, I would have an easier time showing strength and setting  healthy boundaries.  I forget to appreciate the growth it has taken for me to be honest.  I don't want to go into overkill, and give him more fodder for his "all-the-ways-I-hate" myself list. After all, he has a many wonderful qualities too. We all from time to time need wake up calls about being self involved. I think part of what was difficult for me, is that I feel the same way that he does about myself, but the difference is, I know that giving voice to the litany of all the ways I am worthless, digs me further into the mire of self loathing. So when my friend does this, it's like a negative mantra to a false god, and I find it difficult to keep my equanimity worshiping  the low self-esteem deity.

So here, I am taking a step out in the open. Today, I cleaned the house, prepared presents for friends and family, and wrote here, to you, "my dear, and best beloved." (as Rudyard Kipling would put it.) I am so grateful for living in a beautiful place. The trees are that lucid green. The evening is breezy and just cool enough. The people passing the cafĂ©, I'm sitting in, are eating ice cream, and smiling at their children. An acquaintance bought me a latte today just because I laughed with him. My daughter left me two Trader Joe Chocolate bars (unsweetened on the end of my bed). My grandson kissed me this morning, and a friend sent me a heart in an email. While I know there will be tragedies, minor setbacks, dreams unfulfilled, life is good, and worth the pain. Perhaps,  I'll send the old friend I mentioned, my heart in an email.
Monday, May 10, 2010

The Brilliance of Children

My grandchildren awe me. I feel consistently out-shined by their brilliance at times. A few days a week I take care of my grandson. Our mornings are easy together. We visit our games on Facebook, he eats waffles, I eat oatmeal, and sip my morning coffee. As he plays with cars and blocks, I get busy with chores, stopping to answer his questions, and perhaps help him with washing his hands or brushing his teeth.

As I was vacuuming yesterday, he approached me. I turned off the vacuum and said, "What is it, Zane?" He asks: "Meme, can we clean Daddy's room?" Daddy has a closed off porch he retreats to relax in evening. For the most part we leave it untouched for my son-in-law to deal with as far as cleaning and decorating. I was so touched by my grandson's care that his father have a nice room to come home to, that we spent an hour sweeping and dusting. My grandson was present for it for every step of it. His father was so pleased when he came home, my grandson was so pleased that he could do something for his father, and I was so pleased that I could witness this child's generosity. 

Zane turned 4 last November. Sometimes though when I watch him in all his child delight at life, I see this old wizened soul here to teach us all.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Last night I dreamed an old friend was dying. He was lingering, almost trying to pretend it wasn't happening. His spiritual teacher, Samaraj Adi Da (who had just passed on a little more than a year ago) called him on the phone, and said, "Just do it now". He calmly went in the other room and allowed the process. It was a strangely funny and beautiful dream in spite of the theme. Maybe death can be just like going in the other room, and not coming back to the the one you were in before.


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