Friday, April 17, 2015

April 17: Habits of This Life, Going Back, Nostalgic Fairy Tale

That had all happened long ago, and a few weeks before another Christmas, Ives awoke in the bedroom of his apartment on Ninety-third Street as a much older man and recalled how for years he would get up for work at seven in the morning, and swear that he could hear his son, Robert, whistling the theme to The Andy Griffith Show in the hallway, as he used to in the days when he delivered newspapers.  Ives would dress, half-expecting to find the boy in the hall, ready to start his morning's work regardless of the weather; or he would hear Bach sung faintly through his door, or find one of the books his son had been reading in the living room, left casually open on the couch as if he had just been reading it again.  And although he would think, "Caroline," another part of him imagined his body, nostalgic for the habits of this life, materializing from the hereafter.

Ives spends a good portion of the book wishing he could go back to happier times in his life, when his son was still alive and the future held so much hope and promise.  Ives wants a life without tragedy and loss.  A life where his son is delivering newspapers in the neighborhood and his daughter is dancing to Beatles records in her bedroom.  Where his wife and he sit on a couch in their living room, listening to jazz recordings, sipping gin and tonics.

Of course, everyone wants a life without tragedy and loss.  I miss my daughter as a little girl, sitting in my lap, letting me read Charlotte's Web to her.  I miss going to movies with my wife and making out in the darkness.  I miss my son learning to walk, lurching across the floor like a newborn colt.  These are memories that make me happy, nostalgic for better times.

Life never seems to get easier.  It just moves from minor setbacks to catastrophic losses and back.  I hope that doesn't sound too pessimistic.  I have been in a bit of a funk all day.  After I'm done typing these posts, I'm going to visit my sister in the nursing home.  One of my best friends has arranged for a lawyer to take on her case.  That's good news.  My sister has an appointment at Mayo Clinic in early June.  That's good news.  Now, getting my sister to Mayo Clinic is a whole other issue.  Suing a national healthcare system is, too.

I wish I could go back to last September, so that I could tell my sister not to have her back surgery.  I wish I could go back to last November, so that I could tell my friend, Ray, to go to the hospital before he had his fatal heart attack.  I wish I could go back to right before the birth of my daughter, when my wife and I were painting the nursery pale purple and plastering the walls with Winnie the Pooh stickers.

But that isn't the way life works.  There's no going back.  Happiness is as fragile as a soap bubble.  But so is sadness.  My funk will pass tonight.  By tomorrow morning, I will be sitting at McDonald's, eating some kind of McBreakfast, and having some form of McFun.

Once upon a time, there was a fisherman named Clyde who spent his whole life wishing he could go back to school and finish his degree in Culinary Arts.  "I could have been the cook to the king," he would tell anyone who would listen.

One day, Clyde cooked a pork roast for his wife.  As always, as he was cutting the meat, he said to his wife, "I could have been the cook to the king."

Clyde's wife looked at him and said, "The pork is dry.  The mashed potatoes are lumpy.  The carrots are half-cooked.  And the chocolate cake looks like a pile of cow manure."

Clyde stared at her.

"I'm sorry, honey," his wife said.  "You're a great fisherman, but you're a terrible cook."

That night, his wife died of severe food poisoning because Clyde didn't cook the pork long enough.

Moral of the story:  always cook your pork to an internal temperature of 150 degrees.

And Saint Marty lived happily ever after.

Saint Marty loves him some pork...

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