Tuesday 01 September 2015
Sweet Grecy called last night, as she does every night when away. She asked if it would be a problem for her to stay in the Philippines an additional week. That she has been asked by the local mayor to speak with the provincial governor on a matter of importance. “Of course not,” I said. “It will be fine.” Though I miss her terribly, it is sometimes necessary to share her with others.
I think quite a lot when alone. This is especially true as I am not particularly fond of television. My tendency during these times is to think aloud. To spew words and energy in every direction. I used to pace while doing this—head down—eyes focused on infinity. But now, limitations force me to do it a different way. Now, I sit while a thousand million things bounce around in my noggin.
I spent part of this day looking at a photo of my grandpa, Benjamin Thiemer, taken sometime near the turn of last century. It is sepia toned, a cabinet sized photo that may have been taken in San Francisco, as was my autographed photo of John Wilkes Booth’s brother Edwin.
A tall, good-looking man, my grandpa is wearing the regalia of an army master sergeant. He grew up in an insignificant place in Arkansas that even today is not marked on a map, and began his army career as a boy of or sixteen, serving with some of the grizzled veterans who fought the Indian Wars. With them, he engaged the Spaniards in the Philippine Islands. It seems oddly coincidental that my blessed wife is in fact a Filipina, and that she and he, at different times, trod the same ground. When I was older, and better able to understand, grandpa told me how after they defeated Spain, they went on to fight the locals. It spoiled him, he said. They were such beautiful people, full of love for their country. After the Spaniards were gone, all they wanted was to be left alone. Seems America could not do that. Fighting them made him feel like a criminal.
Grandpa left the army to became a hog farmer. Somehow, that seems entirely proper. He married a woman of status while in California, the daughter of a Voorhees and a Culver. Together, they produced five children. Four daughters and a son. My mother was third born. Her mother died while she was a child. Grandpa remarried for the children’s sake and went on raising hogs.
My mother became pregnant with me in her seventeenth year, without benefit of marriage. Her stepmother kicked her out. An elder sister named Ernestine took her in. Shortly after my birth, I was given over to the care of an elderly black woman and her adult son, a WWI veteran. When mom and I arrived at there front door, the man picked up and carried me like precious cargo. Then, when I was about to turn five, my mother swept in with a man I did not know and tore me away from the only family I had ever known.
So—the thinking goes on—round and round like a carousel. It finally tires me, so I seek the comfort of the patio to watch hummingbirds take their meals at the feeder Sweet Grecy and I hung. The feeder is a busy place, much like Missus Miller’s with me, her son, and her six woman boarders, and three cooked and served meals each day. I sadden as I remember my time there. Maybe hummingbirds will share some time with me. Company is what I need most. They are fascinating critters. Some are very bold. They fly within a couple feet of my face, and there, hover to look me over. I sing a soft song to them. They seem to listen. They do provide excellent company, though I desperately miss my dear wife.
Sam will be coming home soon. She is visiting her cousin in Orange County. At least I will have her noise in the house till start of school. Then, I will go back to listening to the late Stevie Ray Vaughn, and the late BB King, and the late so many others. Why do all the great ones leave when they are most needed?
So, where does this lead me? It leads me to think that in two weeks I will drive to LAX, sit and wait in the Bradley Terminal with a couple hundred other folk, while Sweet Grecy clears immigration and customs. We will drive home along the incredible beauty of Pacific Coast Highway, past homes of movie stars and rock stars, maybe stopping at Neptune’s Net for fried shrimp, all while I look forward to the soft sound of her slumber as she nestles spoonlike against me in dark of night. And when I finally sleep, maybe it will be filled with wonderful dreams of Missus Miller in her busy kitchen, or of grandpa leaning over the top rail of his hog sty, scratching the ear of a sow nursing newborn piglets. Memories— They are what make me.
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