Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Saturday, this is the day. My son asked me several weeks ago to be his Best Man. I was trying to recall ever hearing about a father being his sons Best Man. Don't know of any instances. I know my son has many friends, he is a very outgoing and likable kid. Kid? That kid is now 30 years old. Still don't know how 30 got behind me or around me so fast, so stealthily.
I had been trying to figure out for weeks now what I was going to say when I made the traditional Best Man toast/speech.
I know with my memory or lack thereof I needed to write it down or I would just stand up there with glass in hand having another senior moment.
Day after day would pass and still the words did not come. Saturday morning, the day my son would become a married man I sat down with my Ipad, opened up the Notes app and typed the word "Toast".
It never occurred to me to just sit down and start writing and just let the words write themselves.
So I started writing what I would say to my son, his new wife, my xwife 2X, my family, and all the rest of the assembled.
I will relate what I said that day as best I can cause mom asked me to write this.

                                                             The Toast
"Several weeks ago my son asked me to be his Best Man, I tried several times to think of what I wanted to say but I just could not come up with the words for some reason. This morning I finally just sat down at my computer and stared writing. So you will forgive me if I have to read some of it, or all of it. These days my memory is receding faster than my hairline.

I want to first say that I'm honored that my son asked the old man to be his Best Man. I have served in this capacity a couple of times before. Unfortunately I've been a groom more times that I've been a best man.
In all the weddings I've been in, been at or been the victim of, when the Best Man makes a toast he usually gives a brief history of how he met the groom and relates some of the more memorable events of their history or in some cases their shananigans growing up.
In my case I remember very well the day I met Marky.
Some 30 years ago I met Mark at University Hosptal in a delivery room after some 18 hours of grueling and painful labor and delivery. Thought I was gonna die, his mother had kind of a rough day too.
When the doctor delivered Mark he did not cry or make one peep. He was purple, not breathing and more dead than alive. 
Through the night thanks to the doctors and nurses of the Special Care Nursery Mark steadily improved and by morning was just fine.
Through the intervening years from infancy through adulthood it could be at times very challenging to keep up with Marky, and it could be very challenging not to strangle him at times. As Mark grew up my hair fell out and was sometimes pulled out.
He had a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time hanging out with the wrong friends and hooking up with the wrong kind of girls. I don't know where the hell that kid got that from.

Just when things looked the worse for my son he met Jannett, Landon and Logan. That was the day my son began to turn things around. You three made a tremendous difference in his life and I thank you for that. Last night we had a bachelor party for Mark at my brothers house. It was an evening of debauchary and lewd and lascivious conduct, playing Xbox watching reruns of the Science Channel and going out back to look at the full moon. 

We did have a few beers and after a couple shots of tequila Mark just kept saying over and over again how happy he was.
I'm happy too. I not only finally have a very happy son, I have another wonderful daughter, I also hade two new very wonderful grandsons.
Landon and Logan have made me smile since the first time I met them. They always called me Marks dad. Hey Marks dad, can we have a drink? Hey Marks dad, do you have any toys here?
Well I don't know what they will choose to call from now on but I have a tip for you boys. Papaw gives much better Christmas presents than Marks dad, so there's that.

Before we raise our glasses or cans I want to say this. During the trying times that was the years my son drove me crazy, when I would tell my mom and dad how frustrating my son could be and what his latest screwup had been. They would just shake their heads and smile that smile. You know that smile. The smile that says heh heh heh, you are getting your just deserts my son. 
 So when Mark comes to me with wailing and gnashing of teeth when Landon or Logan or my next grandchild does something stupid. He will look at me and I'll just stand that grinning and smiling while I watch his hair fall out.
Oh yeah the toast. Congratulations and may you stay as happy as you are all right this moment. But I still hope you lose your damn hair son. Salute!"

So the Toast finished, I wiped my eyes raised my glass and we toasted to the bride, groom and my two new grandsons.
That was it, short and sweet, not much controversy and a few tears between my son and me.
Why had it taken me so long to write this brief summery of my feelings? To answer that would require a volume of text. It would necessitate the opening of some very deep wounds me and my son shared during the darkest days of both of our lives. Those demons are better  kept locked away in the dungeon below the basement of my mind. I will say that as I wrote those words that morning I knew why I had been so hesitant to begin.

The memory of a little 14 year old boy who shaken to the core of his adolescent being, coming to his father with information that no child should have to bare. Information that would lead to the destruction of his safe little family unit nestled away in the boondocks of Morgan County.
That next year for that boy would be hell, I know it was hell for me.
I also knew it would affect him in ways I could not predict and I feared for him, hell I still do fear what that time in his life would ultimately do to him. It is no great mystery to me why my son waited so long to get married to someone he deeply loved. That summer of 1998 and the following year would change anyone much less a 14 year old boy who had discovered something that would change all our lives if he shared that information with his father.
If he kept it to himself it would have only changed him.

Through the years when I would think about that night when our family began to crumble I am still in awe of the courage it took. How many little boys would have just swallowed up that "thing" that he knew and just kept it to himself? I just remember the look on his face when he revealed it, his terror that his own father would not believe him.
Oh, I believed it, much like you believe it when you are told someone close to you has suddenly died. You believe it but the shock mercifully will not allow you to absorb it for a time.
I believed him because it explained some things that until that night had only been a series of unconnected insignificant little oddities about my then wife.

While I wrote those words and while I spoke those words the memories of that 14 year old boy and the courage it took for him to come forward would assault both our eyes with all manner of smoke, dust, allergies and motes and would test our abilities to be men, just suck it up, man up, rub some dirt in it and hold back the flood.
We failed.
I was that night as I am today so grateful to that 14 year old boy. I think he saved my life at the cost of his own innocence.
The Best Man? The best man is the one on the left.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


"I know I don't get there often enough
But God knows I surely try
It's a magic kind of medicine
That no doctor could prescribe"
(Jimmy Buffet, One Particular Harbor)

Haven't been on here much lately. Been pretty busy getting moved out of my bro's house and setting up my new digs here at the State Park.
As of yesterday I have completed my first work week at the Park as a resident volunteer. That work week consisted of 20 hours of refurbishing some specialized benches, killing some weeds, doing some repairs to the old covered bridge at the North Gate and spending an entire day on the worlds fastest lawn mower trying hard not to get too distracted looking at the vistas all around and running the Dixie Chopper off some cliff.

Still getting organized a week after getting my new camper set up at the park. It's 25RR Grey Wolf Toy Hauler with plenty of room for my Honda Shadow and me to make the trip to Florida for the winter after Christmas.

 I'm at the lake now, hanging my laundry to dry and storing some things in the little cabin. Between my camper at the park and my shed/cabin at the lake, I have just about enough room for my "stuff". Seems like I have been spending the last 15 years downsizing. I keep thinking about the line from an old Jimmy Buffet song One Particular Harbor. 

"I used to rule my world from a pay phone
and ships out on the sea
Now times are rough I got too much stuff
can't explain the likes of me" 

My existence seems to be a reverse order of that song as I downsize, simplify, prioritize, dematerialize and homogenize.
When I say homogenize I am referring to the need to blend my campsite at the park with my camp away from camp here at the lake.
My two homes are 7.5 miles apart. There is no busy commute or traffic jams to fight. In fact I can make the trip by bicycle if need be. I did that on the day my camper arrived at the park so I could bring my big bike from the lake to the park. The trip out of the park on the bicycle was a piece of cake as it was all pretty much downhill off of Indiana's Little Smokies. When I got close to the lake it was a different matter due to some killer hills that needed conquering.
I needed to do some laundry today and I knew that would require a trip to town just 1 mile from the park entrance. I also needed to organize and store some of my "too much stuff" in the loft of the cabin-shack. I decided to bring my washed wet laundry to the lake and hang it out to dry like in the days of yore.
After a quick trip to Bear Hardware (one of my favorite places here), for some wooden clothes pins I hung up the tighty whitey's and such and let the nice breezy day do the work. 
This seems like a good system for laundry day!

There is a competition as to which place I want to be when I think of the this part of the song
"But there's one particular harbor
So far and yet so near
Where I see the days as they fade away
And finally disappear"

I have closed out many days here at the lake watching the sun slide over the trees and the night creatures on the water and in the woods begin their shifts.
The stars come out in enormous count, far away from the lights of the big city.
But now there is the other place. My camper sits next to the service area 1 mile from the campground. The sign on the drive says "Authorized Vehicles Only". Seclusion is the result.

A few steps away from my camper I pass through a stand of huge pine trees that opens up to a large field of grass that makes for a nice place to lay on a blanket and star gaze. A few more steps and I'm at the vista where I think if Got would have pushed just a little harder here Indiana would have a full blown mountain range.
A short walk or bicycle ride down the road is a fire tower where a guy can pack some beers in his backpack, climb the steps and watch the sun melt away from the highest point in Southern Indiana, yeah checked that off my list the first night.

In the daylight with my family and friends swimming in the lake and my grandson playing with his trucks in a pile of sand or do we want to go see papaw's camper then go hiking in the State Park?
"And there's one particular harbor
Sheltered from the wind
Where the children play on the shore each day
And all are safe within"
So you see my dilemma. I can't be in two places at one time. The two places are 15 minutes apart.

When I was a young man I had no idea the weird winding path that would take me from there to here, I just lived for that particular day with not much thought about the future.
"But now I think about he good times
Down in the Caribbean sunshine
In my younger days I was so bad
Thinking about all the fun we had"

Ahhhhhh, this particular song by the great JB hits me on so many different levels.
"I've seen enough to feel the world spin
Mixin different oceans meetin cousins
Listening to the drummers and the night sounds
Listening to the singers make the world go round"

Yes sing it Jimmy!
"La OraTe Natura
E Mea Arofa Teie Ao Nei 
La OraTe Natura
E Mea Arofa Teie Ao Nei"

Jimmy I have no idea what the hell that means.
"Most mysterious calling harbor
So far but yet so near
I can see the day when my hairs full gray
And finally disappear"

Ok JB both our bald heads can relate to that.
You know, I didn't intend to write about One Particular Harbor becoming my new theme song. It kinda just took that turn like so many things do.

Although I still cannot rule my world from a pay phone, I have been making great strides toward ruling my world from the Internet and a P.O. box.
I'll get there.

Till then my one particular harbor is right here.