Friday, December 31, 2010

Auld Lang Syne: The Gift

This year, I discovered I had allies and friends I did not know I had. 

Two of them, in addition to their encouragement and support, gave me a tremendous gift.  Tonight, I think, is an appropriate time to share.

My Dad was not big on pictures.  As I've blogged before, he was a very big man . . . very uncomfortable in his own skin (we have that in common) . . . and did not like to be photographed.  And/so we don't have a lot in the way of photos.  And we didn't have anything in the way of videos or audio recordings when he died in 2005.

In the eulogy I gave at First Baptist during Pop's memorial service, I described the night in 2004 that I appeared, for the first time, before the Asheboro City Council . . . and pleaded for their help in extracting some kind of justice out of the over-paid, over-rated, cheap lying bullies who run Randolph Hospital (it's my opinion and I've more-than-earned the right to call those two jerks as I see them).  I wanted - still want - to see the people running this town to demonstrate some of the "small-town" values they boast so much about having.

Because I gotta say, since coming home, I just have not seen it.

It was in the days before I discovered blogging, and I was terrified of the consequences of going "public" with my story . . . not that the Courier Tribune's David Renfro or Ray Criscoe were going to allow that story to become public knowledge by actually reporting it.  The reporter put down her pen when I stood up to speak. 

(The Courier's pay-walls these days are simply a variation of more of the same old "circle the wagons around the right people" crap that all but killed our little town.)

I read from a prepared statement, my voice trembling at times, and and my hands shaking.

My Mom and Dad attended the meeting to lend moral support - but neither had indicated they were going to speak.  But when I sat down, on the verge of tears, and pretty much knowing my presentation had fallen on deaf ears, my Father stood up and made his own impromptu plea to the Council to do something - anything - to call attention to the series of evil deeds that had driven me out of Asheboro, and to help his daughter come home.

He was also on the verge of tears.

My relationship with my Dad was not always a smooth sail.  It was actually very rocky for a very long time. 

But Pops was everything a Father should be that night.

Meanwhile, our local newspaper took yet another dive for its biggest advertiser.  There was no mention of my appearance in their "report" on the meeting.

The following February, Daddy died unexpectedly in his sleep . . . a few weeks after totalling his beloved truck, "Big Red", in an accident in Spencer, N.C.  He was pretty badly banged-up in the wreck, but sent home after a night of observation in the hospital. 

There was no post-mortem exam.  Dad had a history of cardiac problems, we declined a post-mortem, and the local Medical Examiner signed it off as a heart attack. I've always thought he threw a pulmonary embolus as a result of some of the injuries he suffered in the wreck.

Anyway, years passed, and it never occurred to me that the City Council meeting was taped, and that my presentation - and my Dad's - was recorded. 

But when I hooked up with Pat and Mike Bradshaw this fall, and started looking at the evidence they had proving beyond any shadow of any doubt that our local newspaper might as well operate under the masthead of Pravda, I realized that I might actually be able to hear Daddy's voice once again.

I made the requests, paid the copying fees, and picked up the tapes.  And for weeks I just stared at the envelope - did not even open it.

But a few weeks ago, right before I went to sleep, I finally curled up in bed, popped the tape into a very old Walkman I had dug out for just the occasion, inserted the ear pieces, turned off the lights and listened to my Father's voice once again.  It was a clear night down East, and as I listened to my Father BE the best Dad ever, I gazed out the window into a carpet of glistening, dancing stars . . . tears streaming down my face.

At that moment, a train whistle echoed in the distance.

There are not words.

This year, I am thankful for my friends . . . old and new.



Happy New Year.

2 comments:

Ticker said...

How beautiful and wonderful. (Said with tears streaming down my cheeks.)

This would fall into the category found in the words of the old hymn, Precious Memories.

PRECIOUS MEMORIES, HOW THEY LINGER
HOW THEY EVER FLOOD MY SOUL
IN THE STILLNESS, OF THE MIDNIGHT
PRECIOUS, SACRED SCENES UNFOLD

VERSE#1
PRECIOUS MEMORIES, UNSEEN ANGELS
SENT FROM SOMEWHERE TO MY SOUL
HOW THEY LINGER, EVER NEAR ME
AND THE SACRED PAST UNFOLD.

VERSE#2
PRECIOUS FATHER, LOVING MOTHER
FLY ACROSS THE LONELY YEARS;
AND OLD HOME SCENES OF MY CHILD-HOOD
IN FOND MEMORY APPEAR.

VERSE#3
AS I TRAVEL, ON LIFE'S PATHWAY
KNOW NOT WHAT THE YEARS MAY HOLD;
AS I PONDER, HOPE GROWS FONDER
PRECIOUS MEMORIES FLOOD MY SOUL.

I wish Peace for you in the coming New Year.

Dr. Mary Johnson said...

Thanks, P. This particular memory is indeed precious.

But as my Daddy taught me, before peace, comes war. I'm getting ready to wage one.

And it's good to know who my real friends are.