21,900 Days In The Life (a working class hero is something to be)
I was up late last night. I had trouble sleeping. Then the dog wanted to go out. Then it was time to get up. The drive was slower than usual and I had to rush to beat the whistle at the Clown Factory. I’ve been there fifteen years and am a project manager in the Whimsy Division; I do a lot of specialty work off of the regular line. My dad works there as a Serious Overseer and he’s really good at it; he keeps things moving along without being a jerk about it. Those guys are really important because otherwise nothing would ever get done. He’s been there so long I forget what it was like to go to work without him there. It’s his sixtieth birthday today.
After work I had an appointment at our family doctor whose office is around the corner from their house. Dr P is that rarest of physicians, a general practitioner of great compassion and skill who is devoted to his patients. He has served four generations of our family; he was the physician at my grandfather’s bedside when he passed from this world and helped to welcome my nephews into it. As I was leaving I mentioned it was my dad’s 60th birthday and we talked about how well he looks and he laughed and pointed out to his son that I work with my dad, too; his son Chris is an RN who runs the office. When I started my car the news analysts were talking about the unique legacy of Mayor Daley and his father, Mayor Daley; it’s the big news of the moment, even bigger than the mosque nonsense. I was struck by how literary symmetry bubbles up from life’s chaos. If I were a character narrating myself it would be pure artifice to have the supporting characters of my drama mirror myself this much. Of course, it is the job of the human mind to impose order on chaos, to manufacture omens and portents from raw nothing, so since I had my dad on my brain I think I just kept seeing fathers and sons everywhere I looked. It also didn’t help that I was reading ‘Hamlet’ last night.
The family is actually celebrating tomorrow night so I ended up being the only one there with mom and dad, which actually was really nice. It was like way long ago times. We talked about the news and dad called Glenn Beck a ‘demagogue’ and that he thought Sarah Palin was ‘dangerous’ with her use of language. He didn’t like the ‘reload’ business. I pointed out that even though I thought Bush was a feckless idiot his father had been President and so there must have been some sense of history and the obligations of leadership rattling around in his brain, or at least it seemed like there was compared to Palin. She makes him look like a genius statesmen, which really is terrifying.
I helped mom start the grill and we talked about my doctor’s appointment, which went well. I’ve lost weight and my blood pressure was awesome. I didn’t mention to them that Dr P masterfully pushed my buttons to make me feel horrible about not getting full blood workups for him, but I’ll be fasting for those right away. We talked about work quite a bit, which used to drive me a little crazy sometimes, especially on holidays, but this was cathartic. Dinner was delicious and afterwords dad showed me how he was arranging his photos with Picasa which actually was pretty damn cool. He’s a very good photographer with a great eye. I returned the favor by taking him through my cousin’s FB pictures of which there were hundreds. My cousin is the son of my father’s brother who died twenty four years ago. He was a hero cop. I want to involve my cousin in our lives more and we all agreed that is a good idea. We talked about the boys; I don’t know if I’m ever going to have kids but I am invested in my nephews. There really aren’t words to describe the pure joy radiating off of them.
I want to make a toast for my father tomorrow. I decided this on the drive home which was long but the wind was crisp and the music was loud and these September days are unspeakably beautiful, I always forget how beautiful they are, they are the days promised by the rest of the year, the ideal the seasons struggle for. In the clarity of this big moment I see across the great distance to where my father has carried the family from and I am staggered by his achievement. He beat the long odds with patience and humble wisdom. I want to tell my nephews about their Papa, and how hard he worked for them before anyone ever dreamed of them, of the sacrifices he made for his family that have paid unimaginable dividends. He was born into a house of chaos and made himself as consistent as the stars. He is the one man on this Earth I will bow to for I owe him all respect but more importantly he has my deepest love and affection.