From the 2008 fundraiser... by backhoe » 18 Aug 2008 02:23
And a little "in the Silence of my Soul" bump...
“It was a young love...”
So my Mother said of her first marriage, to her cancer-doomed Joe Schaeffer in 1942, and so say I of my first marriage to Helen in 1974...
I was 25, back then, and she was 28... looking back, we were so young and sometimes so foolish ( not that age really changes you all that much- you learn a lot as the years roll away, but like the monkey with his fist caught in a gourd, you also seem to be doomed to repeating the same, stupid mistakes over & over & over again... ) but it was the life we were given to share for what seemed in passing forever, but looking back now, seems like so short, so very short, a time.
To quote some lyrics that always stick in my head- http://tinyurl.com/5zngog
Once upon a time
A girl with moonlight in her eyes
Put her hand in mine
And said she loved me so
But, that was once upon a time
Very long ago.
Once upon a time
We sat beneath a willow tree
Counting all the stars
And waiting for the dawn
But, that was once upon a time
Now the tree is gone...
At the time, I had a job I loved- night operator of the Island's water and sewer treatment plants, and a girlfriend I was in the process of leaving-- a good girl I only wished well, but the relationship had become dead in the water. Smoking dope and drinking coffee and listening to Jethro Tull thunder through Altec Santiago speakers is “no way to go through life, Son.”
I walked into a room, and I heard that voice... and I saw that face... and I knew that this was the one woman I had been born to be with, forever and ever. ( It was at her Father's funeral- but that is another story, indeed... ) My female self. The other side of midnight.
She had a million suitors- what bright and pretty, charismatic and smart, funny and earthy woman wouldn't? I kind of out smarted them all, but I won't tell you how unless you ask- I'm not going to honk my own horn that much if it can be helped.
It's all a Dead World anyhow, isn't it?
Dead Worlds, trailing behind me...
I'd ride my 74 to her house every night, after she quit working ( she was a businesswoman who owned several stores ) and we'd eat, and talk, and then I'd motor on home...
...until that first night I stayed.
That was the first level of trust.
The second one was when she opened her books to me, and asked “why isn't this store making any money?” I gave her my opinion, and she acted on it, and sure enough, the money started coming in. That was, indeed, the second level...
The third was when she went to New York, and left that same store to my keeping. And ironically, the first boyfriend of the woman who would much later become my second wife ( you knew this wasn't going to have a happy ending, didn't you? ) worked there at that time.
Other levels of trust were buying the first major purchases together- a Seeburg jukebox ( how that girl loved deep, thumping bass! ) and a Kawi piano ( I was self-taught at keyboards, and at my best might have been able to make a living in a piano bar... ).
And time flew by, as it has a way of doing ( and never forget, there's a Big Clock- a time clock in the sky-- running on all of us... ) and we laughed and fought and drove from business to business- made love ( and other, ruder words... ) soon as we woke up, last thing at night, and often in between... Oh! We were so young, then.
Honeymooned at Half Moon Bay in Jamaica ( “A hungry Mon is a dangerous Mon- feed your brother!” said the radios there ) and came home to run all those businesses. Yeah, we were The Golden Couple... everyone wanted to be near us, be our friends, be held in our esteem.
It's funny looking back, because we were so poor we ate Swanson frozen dinners that first year- everything we had, we put back in to the stores. But to be successful, you have to appear to be successful, so we created an illusion of prosperity, and wealth, and people believed it. “The strong horse, the weak horse,” and all that stuff Osama said- it's true, for good or ill.
There were, and are, further levels of trust- she was handicapped ( two sailors, too drunk to walk but not to drive, hit her car and put her in a wheelchair, never to rise again ) and had been married before, and divorced after the first year, and I was, and remain, convinced that it failed because she refused to let her husband care for her. Her Mother ( an entire story in itself ) was certain “no man could stand caring for a handicapped wife” ( merely projecting her own feelings on others ) so she had nurses and maids to do this. And it was a barrier, between man and wife.
But I overcame it- and some other things as well. So we became One...
And how those days, and nights, flew! A blur of speed, and passion. Accompanied by the rolling thunder of the music that was always around us and always a part of our world...
Corporate battles, bloodless, yet as vicious as any barfight. Sickness and heath. Music and laughter and madness.
Money finally pouring in, and when it did, her turning to me and saying, “You know how it is when you really want something ( income ) so badly, and when you get it, it's really not quite what you thought it would be, all along?”
Yeah, I knew. We'd fought cancer twice, I'd had myself sterilized ( for her health ) so we couldn't have heirs and children ( more, more! Stories... ) and somehow, the houses and jewelry and clothes and furs, the prestige and the envy...
...weren't really worth much more than a bucket of warm spit.
( And just for the record, I had known that all along. My parents were wise old birds, who taught me well about life and its illusions. )
But always, we had each other. No matter which side of Heaven or Hell or places in between we'd visited that day, at night we spooned together, always nude, skin to skin, like two puppies. And she could never fall asleep unless I lightly scratched her head.
Faster, faster, faster!
Until, until until...
( The night of her 36th birthday, on the hour and to the minute, of the time she had been born. Remember that big time clock, running? She got punched out... )
she turned to me and called “John, John!” and a stroke carried her away...
All those tests at Duke, and they never looked in her head to see that aneurysm she had been born with, a little time-bomb riding along inside her, and beside me, all those years.
There are a million stories within that little outline, but I have not the heart ( Heart? “The Heart is a lonely hunter...” ) to write them, now.
And maybe I will , or maybe I will not, some later day.
Well, I found it. Lots of memories from back then. Mostly happy, a few that bite. “It was a young love” was on page 47 and I'm going to leave off reading there. I did save this to disc this time.
Funny, how frangible & fungible memory is.
“I'm moving on with my life, and you've been gone...”
Forever, to the Sea.
“...and I straighten
Miss Emily's picture
on the wall...”