I went to a funeral today. One of my closest friend’s father died. A very nice man.
The Mass was held in the church of my childhood. The building’s changed. Now it looks like a concert hall but the communal feeling hasn’t changed. At the most sacred moments of The Mass, adherents kneel. I looked around and no one had. I began to kneel. I’m Roman Catholic. I keep and cherish and embrace the rituals. And then in the words of my Grandmother Mary Maxine Fitzpatrick, the woman beside me “hit her knees” at the same time I did. We were strangers. But she reached out her hand and patted my forearm and I knew we were true brother and sister honoring our same Father. At that moment I felt a true Holy Communion.
I love being a Roman Catholic. I’m so ashamed I’ve spent so many months in lamentation of my heart and wasted so many months ignoring my immortal soul. Now my friend’s father has passed. But in the midst of his moment, I’ve experienced a reawakening. Thank you Mr. Heiser. I’ll always remember this moment and I’ll always cherish your memory.
I stood beside the entrance table. A floral arrangement centered the lobby. Tall and perfect. Synthetic or authentic? I didn’t care enough to discern. I watched a young father pay for a pizza and pass it to his kindergartened sized daughter. I watched with wonder as they waited for the elevator. A big pie to balance with tiny palms.
A couple stepped off the elevator. A Sherman McCoy. Not the ridiculous Tom Hanks incarnation. William Hurt. Tall. Blonde. WASPily adorned in a blue long town coat that covered a matched navy blue Brooks Brother’s suit. Vent of no vent? I couldn’t see the cut. His scarf dangled and framed his tie. Not fashioned into a Parisian knot. Just draped. Like his father’s. His grandfathers’. His past. His spine straightened by etiquette. Deportment. Discipline.
At his side: a Samantha Jones. After the cancer. Skeletal and elongated. He held the door and ruddered the small of her back. He steered her cashmere mere inches above her belt. She stepped outside.
He widened the door and stepped aside for a woman who walked several steps behind. She raised her hands above her head as if threatened for her cash. Her face twisted into hate. She backed away from him. Steps. Yards. Ten feet. Perhaps further. No words were exchanged. No offense was committed. Disobediently uncivilized.
He shrugged his shoulders and walked outside. The door shut behind him.
So many vivid memories.
Leaving Junction City Kansas after Dad’s work week and heading toward Saint Paul. Climbing into the backseat of a two-toned salmon and white Chevy and watching my Father’s jacket collar as we motored along US Route 77.
Small tots taking turns riding in the rear window. Fitting inside the space between the trunk and the roof. Jiggling in reply to the textures of the pavement. Looking for the Big Dipper. Watching the lights of each town grow with each approach. Singing the same circus song and counting the same colored cars and remaining silent in the midst of pinches and tickles. Scrunching against the accusations of being on someone else’s seat.
The sides of the highway littered with small white crosses. Crosses to mark places. Accidents. Fatalities. The crosses were punctuated by signs: “narrow bridge” or “narrow roads.” Feeling fear as my Father drove that winding strip of highway. Closing my eyes and praying for protection as my Father passed a car driving the opposite direction. Speeds limited to 75 mph.
Stuckey’s Pecan Rolls.
PJ’s with socks at the end of the legs. Tiny union suits. Wrapped in blankets and tugging for a share of the warmth.
Bologna sandwiches on Wonder Bread passed overhead from front seat to back.
A motherly mantra: “I’d just like to make it through one trip without milk spilled down my back!”
Yesterday I drove the highway between Chicago and Saint Paul. I wanted the silence of solitude. No radio. No chatter. I wanted the rote of the road. The shoulders of the highway were littered with debris: 27 carcasses of deer. Skins sprayed with orange painted Xs. I remembered the crosses. I chewed a stick of jerky and remembered my memories.
She fleshed gluttony: too talkative, too loud, too desperate. Although she feigned conversation with her companion, she delivered her monologue to her captive audience. We weren’t captivated with interest; it was need. We needed procedures. We waited in the waiting room; we were bound to listen. I looked over my iPad to see the source of her disturbance. She sprawled across her seat and rested from shin to shoe on the tiny table provided for toddlers. The table toddlers touch. Her shoes soiled their play surface. I was too sick to take a stand.
Sexual harassment and sexual abuse are not gender issues; they’re crimes. Stop politicizing abuse.
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