9/22/09 Columbus, OH @ The Punk Porch
My Pappa got sick shortly after his 80th birthday. At a fancy dinner in his honor, I could see it in his eyes. They were greyer, like dissolving rock salt on snow. They knew something sad. His smile came with effort and his devilish, German charm was slightly tamed.
My Mom called me at work a few weeks later. She left a message with a tired, serious tone. I knew what it was about before I even called back. In the hallway outside the elevator at the library, coworkers passing by were distant and blurry shapes in my tear filled eyes. I said to Mom,
“Are you okay?” though I know you cannot be okay. You can only be there while God or someone seems to be reeling up a lifetime before you even knew what it meant to you. I worked the rest of the day and retained the heavy water behind my eyes. I could feel it’s weight.
I arranged a ceremony on an unused train bridge over the bike path. I wanted to give thoughts to Pappa with my heart beating full of affection and ambition. I could never say as much right to him. I honored him with two big beers under late summer stars and with conversation. After the last sip there was still something to be done for his health.
“If the bottles don’t break, it’s good luck for Papa. If they do break, it’s for him too.”
We dropped them down from the bridge. The bottles shattered, ringing out two glass notes. I know he would have smiled at the music.
The show was comforting distraction. I wanted to be somewhere I didn’t have to think. I could absorb music and the company of friends. I could tie on a cape and fly with no shoulder weight; never looking down at sorrow.