I lost a mentor this week. He didn’t know me and wouldn’t recognize my name, and yet, I thought of him as a guide, a teacher and a friend.
He was influential in our neck of the woods, and not only through his audience with the local newspaper, but also through his neighbors, his activities with local sports and politics, his garden, his church and his family. He took the concept of community seriously and devoted himself to our city with a passion that’s hard to match.
I’d say “Rest in Peace” although I can’t imagine he would recline on his (plentiful) laurels even now – there’s too much to do!
I love my writing friends and the inspiration they offer. That being said, when I ask for the word for reading someone else’s mind, the answer is not “transvestite.” And while I’ll admit that Max, my data retrieval system (see “Random Access Memory” on this blog), had already convinced me the word started with “trans,” he still did not come back with “transvestite” as an option.
Since my ability to read my own mind (ie, my memory files) was obviously not working efficiently, it took a little bit to come up with “telepathy.” Which opened the gate for “transvestite” and shared tales of past encounters.
Then I made the mistake of asking for a synonym for “experience” and the options offered by http://www.dictionary.com included “combat” “savoir-faire” and “perspicacity.” So we discussed labeling that section of a résumé – “Previous Combat” or just “Combat.” Somehow it didn’t translate directly, and again I was offered “transvestite.” Since I have no idea which writing project my friend was working on, I will have to guess that it involved cross-dressing…
The nightmare is always the same – I am in the dark and I cannot summon the light. The light switches don’t work. The daylight is gone. It’s twilight and getting darker. Soon I will be unable to see…
Insufficient Illumination. Inadequate Luminescence. Not enough LIGHT! It is so easy to let the darkness seep in. To let it color the world. Bitter, lonely, tortured darkness doesn’t really suit my personality. So I keep it confined and when it manages to seep out, I seek out the light.
Most recently I compared the muddy chocolate ooze at the bottom of my hot cocoa to the darkness in my soul – kind of sweet and gooey. That’s my kind of darkness – tempered with sweetness (and chocolate).
The storage facility now rivals the Smithsonian for content and size, although it was once a lot smaller. The original caretaker was youthful and spry, retrieving facts and needed data seemingly instantaneously. Things have changed…
There is an old man with a walker who wanders the aisles of the Smithsonian-sized warehouse retrieving facts for me. Everything I’ve ever known is in the warehouse. Everything. And the old man moves up and down the aisles pulling random files, peeking at their contents and shoving them back onto a shelf in another place. Sometimes he carries the files around for awhile before stuffing them into a stack on the other side of the building. His walker has those yellow tennis balls on the back two legs and a handmade bag with his name stenciled awkwardly on the front by one of the residents at the nursing home on craft day and hot-glued hook and loop tape to hold it on the front bar of his walker.
He wears a hearing aid with the volume turned down so he doesn’t accurately hear the requests that come in over the loudspeaker. If the overhead asks for “sneakers” he might hear “squeakers” or “peekers” and he’s off down another aisle, pulling files reciting a portion of the contents out loud and moving on.
In the bag on the front of his walker are objects that he has found as he has traversed the warehouse over the years. There is a crystal that used to hang from the rearview mirror of a 1993 Ford Escort 5-speed manual Sports Edition. There is a button from a sweater (might have been his sweater). He won’t give up his treasures and he rarely shows them to me.
The warehouse gets larger every year and he can no longer keep up, although he keeps trying. Pulling the files he thinks I need and never quite finding what I’m seeking until hours later – often in the early hours of the morning or when I’m taking a shower. He works best when I am not under pressure because he can’t stand stress. And since the files are not ordered chronologically or alphabetically or according to any known method of _____ (insert word which he won’t tell me at the moment meaning “sortable” and “orderly”), he works best by wandering around and pulling out whatever intrigues him.
The newer items are stacked in baskets near the front door and every once in awhile he goes up and gets a few items, takes them back into the stacks and shoves them into shelves with a logic known only to him.
When I am actively trying to recall the name of the book that so piqued my interest 10 years ago we play charades and I start guessing “sounds like” “starts with” and tossing in movie titles or song lyrics that are somehow in the same file folder on a shelf he has just accessed. If I am lucky it will be the correct folder although I still have to guess the other objects in the folder before he gives me the information I want. I can’t fire him. He works very hard and he knows these stacks better than anyone else. You see, he is my data retrieval system – my random access memory.
Like many of you, I live with physical pain every day. The multiple diagnoses include osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia as the primary causes. Such pain is labeled “chronic” because it is always there, and yet “chronic” doesn’t even begin to describe pain.
Pain has layers. Three basic layers come to mind, although there are many other levels along the spectrum. There is the top acute layer, which screams the loudest and seemingly hurts the most because it gets the most attention. There are the middle layers of nagging ache that are more evident when the top layer has been appeased. And then at the very bottom is a throbbing discomfort that may not even manifest in the brain as “pain” per se and yet it won’t allow the sufferer a comfortable position and insists on intruding into even the deepest repose. Many drugs will address the top layer, some will actually start to work on the middle layers, and none ever seem to address all the layers simultaneously.
A change in the weather brings more pain. And yet, my pain, unlike someone with bone cancer, is not a harbinger of death or worsening disease. Sometimes I hurt so badly I am unable to think and yet I know it will subside at some point. Hopeful that it will not rise again only to be proven wrong. Pain wakes me from sleep and sometimes prevents sleep altogether, and yet sleep is supposed to help relieve pain. In my experience, sleep only provides a brief respite where I escape the confines of my physical self to the place where I can run and even fly.
So I try to remember that feeling when the pain h
as weighed me down… somewhere, somehow, I can fly 🙂
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