Too long. My time away from writing has been too long. Not for lack of ideas. They are frequent and plentiful.
Too many ideas perhaps and few that remain after shaking out the basics of plots and themes. But, un-begun as they are, they wait in line for what has already been finished but never finalized.
I finished by first novel...when? A year ago? Two? I honestly cannot recall the date. Even the excitement that I felt, the relief is a distant foggy memory.
But now, the creative forces that drove the first book to its completion are throbbing to be released again and standing in their way is "Twinky."
I've debated with friends and loved-ones over the route best suited to publishing. I've even had a cursory edit performed. But regardless of the route, one thing is certain, an object in motion stays in motion and my "object" has stopped, impinged by the lack of decision.
Thus, I will set fire to the fuse and, for better or worse, I will watch as this project either explodes in a spectacular display of colorful criticism or fizzle in a wisp of smoke as "dud" is pronounced.
My research into the publishing avenues have led me to Amazon and Kickstarter. Thus, with a little further research I will be establishing a Kickstarter project to fund "Twinky's" transformation to a printed paper-bound tome from it's current ethereal existence. Or should I say, virtual.
I realize there is a bit of a compensation or reward system inherent in Kickstarter, and that poses a slight hurdle. What do I offer? Signed copies - certainly. Additional materials like a personally bound, unofficially self-published book of poetry? A poster of the novel's cover?
Ideas a bound, but what are they worth? This I will have to determine as I delve deeper into the birth of this first work.
Until then, stay tuned. When things are set, I will let the curtain drop and we will be off, racing to see "Twinky" finally realized!
My father is an alcoholic. Or rather in "remission." They say once an addict, always an addict. It's whether you act on it or not that determines if you're currently an addict or not.
His body is failing, like so many rusty supports on a battled scarred bridge. The heat and strain of fighting (and falling to) alcoholic has torn his kidneys, his liver to bits. And that's the easy part. Treatment is still feasible, if he were willing.
See, my parents have succumbed to the void of communication that addiction and it's affliction brings. They've separated. Rather, Mom has moved out; to the advice of a friend, a mentor, a man.
Regardless, she made the decision, his advice or not. She packed her bags and moved to the city.
The only thing that keeps them civil is their grandchild. Joint baby-sitting, once a week. Conversation hovers around the weather, the change of seasons, the banal. Anything but their common misery.
My father is too ill to leave the house most days, preferring to remain cooped up before the television in a house that is crumbling about his ears. He has but one friend, one mediator.
I'm not him.
Clark keeps him from toppling, from completely breaking from his moorings. Everyone else, anyone else gets the cold, hard breath of bitterness. His own son even feels the bite, and I am removed from the tragedy by a ten hour drive and three states.
He's changed. I've read descriptions of the beaten, the downtrodden, the lost as "shells of themselves." How true, horribly true.
He's a carapace of resentment spiked with shards of guilt, remorse, woundings beyond consolation. Maybe her leaving would have staved the onslaught of contempt, of anger and wild accusations. Maybe...
He lost his job some months ago. Unemployment ran out. His D.U.I. makes him a marked man, unhire-able by any reputable company. What residual income he has from early retirement, pension, only covers the mortgage, the basic needs. Even utilities are too much some months.
See, addiction's maw is hanging wide, and he is delectable. The perfect morsel of grief and hatred, marinated in bitterness. Excuse the self-deception. Excuse the defeated willingness to survive. Excuse the determinate heart and it's confounding passion to not die. The blame falls to the silver-tongued ogre that fed his wife a poisoned lie wrapped in the comforting thought of personal survival.
The anger has smoldered and now roars. Even as friendly, though pitying hands reach in aid, venom and acid are the greetings they receive.
That was then.
Something changed. Maybe a failing liver and an expiration date changed his outlook. Maybe he was forced to face the inevitable. Maybe his heart was finally beginning to heal. His liver won't. Well, at least not much. The doctor's pushing for a transplant. Says he's a good candidate. He says he's not. He an alcoholic. They don't fix alcoholics that way.
He lost the house. It became too much for him, for my mom, for anyone. The doors are locked and the rooms are mostly empty save for a few odd pieces of furniture and stuff. And memories. So many lifetimes of memories. My mom can't bear to even drive by the place. It's all grown over from unkempt flower gardens and abundant weeds. The pool is brown and the pond stagnant.
My dad's shop looks as if it was looted. All the good tools split between friends and family. Mostly friends.
His apartment is more than enough for him, but it's up a small flight of stairs. He gets winded every two steps he takes. The toll of cirrhosis. But there's a small group of people starting to flock around him. He's feeding them. Literally, in some cases. Loaves of banana bread because it gives him something to do and purpose.
That's the change. He's found purpose. Maybe not the star life he always thought he'd attain, but purpose nonetheless. He's weak and dying and he's a pillar for others to lean on.
Some how God brought it around.
The call came mid afternoon. I could barely talk. I left silent as a mute and shaky as a leaf in the wind. I expected it. I prepared myself. So I thought. Every day I knew that could be the day. The last day. But somewhere there is always that thought that you'll have the chance to say what you've always wanted to say but never did. That thought that there's always one more minute, one more chance. There wasn't.
My mind raced through all the things I was going to say like my car raced down the highway. I don't remember stopping or even slowing down. I don't remember how I got home, but I the moment my foot crossed the threshold...
They don't tell what to expect. They couldn't if they tried. They can't prepare you for the raw pain, the sheer agony of the loss. They can't.
I called his phone. Just to hear his voice one last time. My mom called me asking if I was alright. Why had I called his phone? Am I ok?
Was I? NO. How could I be? None of us were. No. One of us was. He was. He found his place. Maybe later then he would have liked. Maybe different than he expected. But he was there.
I know blame flits in and out of one's mind at times like these. Tries to justify the hurt you feel by saying it's their his fault for dying or her fault for letting him. Then it tries to back-stab you and say it's your fault for not trying harder, not doing enough, not saying the right things.
It's not. There is no one to blame. My Dad may not have been the greatest. But he was good. He may not have had all the answers. But he the ones he had made a difference. He may not have also done what was right. But he never came down on you for doing something wrong. And he may not have understood why God allowed all of this to happen and why he never got better. But he knew what it meant to be a man of low-reputation and still loved by his Father above.
We didn't always see eye to eye. But we never let our anger, our differences, our bull-headedness separate us. I forgave him. He forgave me. And we knew it. Like how only forgiven people can know it.
September 24th is the day he passed. One year on the day. There's hardly a day that goes by that I don't think about the advice his given and what he might give if he still could. I've had to figure somethings out on my own that I know he would have shown me in a pinch. And there's a few things that I've fumbled through that he'd probably straighten me out on. Like he did with his little group.
I'm not jealous. I understood. He had purpose. From the very beginning, it was innate. He just couldn't see for all the stuff that kept getting in the way. The stuff of the corporate ladder and the Jones's. The sticky stuff of worry and doubt and hurt.
That's how they found him, his little group. They recognized he'd climbed the ladder and fallen off. And that, that was o.k. Not the why. Not even the how. But the what. What mattered was what you did with it. Bottling it up or downing it with a bottle made no difference. What you do doesn't make who you are.
He came to understand that Christ's death on the cross didn't make Him our savior. Christ being our savior is what made his death our salvation.
My Dad learned that he was someone unique. Someone special. Not special to look at or even talk to. But he just was. He was because God made him that way. And though he may have squandered it, taken it for granted, even denied it, he was who he was regardless of how he tried to be.
I learned that before he died. But it wasn't until today that I could get it all out without breaking into pieces. And still, those pieces are strewn all throughout this writing. A bit here, a bit there. Some marked with joy, others with tears. Some with regret and others with gratitude.
In his last days he may have burned a few bridges. He may have felt the burn of the falling embers and choked on the drifting ash. But still, he understood, he knew he was made for something. Something worthy though he felt unworthy. Something bigger than himself though he felt smaller than ever. He knew his Jesus. Though he may not have understood Him or His ways, he knew HE would be right there through the end and beyond. And that bridge, as hard as it was to see him cross it, was one he was ready to see the other side of. And one day, I'll hear the stories he never got to tell me and the things we never got to say.