Damn, I can’t believe I wrote that autobiography forty three years ago when I was a goofy kid. I’m still goofy, but I guess I’m not a kid anymore. I’ve read it three times since I found it amongst other faded, moldy-smelling, yellow papers I’d kept in that old Pabst Blue Ribbon box I’d left at my parents’ house. My mom was always asking me when I was going to get it out of there. I suppose I shouldn’t have waited until she died, two years ago. I think if Dad hadn’t been in an assisted living home at that time that Box of Recollections would still be there.
It sure brought back a lot of memories; some good and some…..well…..bad.
I sure miss Mom. The cancer attacked her rather quickly and she was gone so fast I didn’t have a lot of time to tell her all the things one needs and wants to say. But I was able to let her know how thankful I was for the way she and Dad raised me and apologize for being the punky kid that gave them so many problems.
Mom: “Solomon, we love you no matter what. And I wouldn’t want you to be any different than the way you are.”
Boy, talk about feeling great and shitty at the same time. I mean, it sounded like I could have been even worse than I was and she still would have loved me a lot. I understand that now though, having kids of my own. And fortunately, Mom was around long enough to see the birth of her great grand-son.
I used to think that my years attending Moon Lake Schools were pretty horrible, but they were nothing compared to just one year; 2012. Dad’s health had been failing and his dementia had been presenting itself more frequently for years. Also, the diabetes he’d contracted in 1976 took its toll on him in the form of the loss of his left leg in 1984. He still worked two more years after that but he eventually quit the Barclay Paper Company and went on disability. So we ended up getting Dad into a home in June of 2012. Although Mom was doing rather well for an eighty five year old lady, she was not doing well enough to care for Dad. In August Mom’s cancer was diagnosed and she was gone in November.
Just last year we moved Dad to a facility near Madison to be closer to us. He’s still quite witty and funny. Not as witty and funny as me, however.
On a happier note, I received a “B” on my autobiography and passed English, therefore paving the way for me to be a proud graduate from the highly respected educational facility commonly known as Moon Lake High School. See, during those last few weeks of school while I was sitting in Principal Mister Billy Lee James’ Office I was able to actually do homework and bring some of my grades up in a few of my classes. I was normally allergic to homework, but it was better than looking at Greg Locke who had received the same sentence. Oh, speaking of Greg Locke, one year after graduating he he died. He was killed. Accidentally, of course. He’d crawled up onto the porch of the Dubois home with a can of black spray paint. He was only successful enough to write “NIG” on the wall of their house before it happened. I’d written in my autobiography that the porch of the Dubois Estate was in need of repair and quite unsafe. So Big Ass Greg Locke was too heavy for the worn, rotting boards and when the porch heaved and gave way under his weight, he fell and was impaled on a pointy post that was sticking up under the deck. It went up his ass, actually. God does indeed work in Mysterious Ways.
Getting back to Mom, she didn’t remain a secretary long at the Barclay Paper Company. She’d been promoted all the way up to Senior Vice President. I don’t think they had a Junior Vice President. So for awhile there she was actually Dad’s boss. He didn’t mind.
Dad: “She bosses me around at home, she might as well do it at work, too.”
See, he’s not as witty and funny as me.
Mom and Dad have been a wonderful grandparents to my daughters, Elizabeth and Martha. And when Dad found out he was a great-grandfather at the age of eighty-eight he cried. Even more than I did when I found out I was a grandfather.
It’s been really nice that Dad’s so close now. I can see him every week at the assisted living home in Monona, or as Dad calls it, the “Let’s-Just-Get-It-Over-With Home.”
I bring my grandson, Benjamin, to see Dad occasionally. Instead of calling him “Benny” Dad always calls him “Kenny”, like he’s talking to our former cat. It’s the dementia and his ninety years that causes that. I don’t mind and Benny doesn’t know the difference.
Each visit is almost the same; I stand next to Dad who is either sitting in a lime green recliner in his tiny room, or he’s laying down on his bed. In either case, I’m always holding and gently squeezing and massaging his hand. It seems to relax him. As if a ninety year old man can relax any more. But it makes him smile.
During every visit he has to tell me what delicacies they’ve served him since my last visit. For the most part, the meals aren’t that bad. But about three months ago he requested pig’s feet and sauerkraut. His nurse, Louise, quite sternly informed him that he was on a strict diet and his request was not reasonable. She didn’t smile. She never does. I believe she’s incapable of such an activity.
Me: “C’mon, Louise, he’s ninety years old for Christ’s sake. What, you don’t want to kill him?”
Dad: “Solomon, don’t be a smartass.”
So once a month I smuggle some of the Forbidden Food into Dad and I join him in Sin. I’ve learned to tolerate it for his sake. It’s not easy slipping the odoriferous present past the guard shack commonly known as the Nurse’s Station. One time Nurse Louise came into the room just as we’d finished.
Nurse Louise: “What’s that god-awful smell?”
Dad: “Gee, can’t a guy fart in his own room without being questioned about it?”
She huffed and stormed out of the room as I began to rub Dad’s hand.
I should also mention that there was a life-changing event that happened in June of 1971. There was a party held in a farm field owned by the Bowman Family. The Bowman’s didn’t know anything about it since they actually lived in Minnesota and they just owned the vacant land. So most of the Seniors who just graduated from Moon Lake High School were borrowing the land to celebrate their accomplishment by consuming large quantities of beer and staring into a bonfire.
I was seated on the opposite side of the fire from Melanie Hero and Thor Magnus. They were hugging, holding and kissing each other in quite a display of vomitous behavior. I know, I think I made up that word.
At one point Thor got up, leaving Melanie seated on a log chatting with some of her friends. Even I noticed that the Perfect Thor had been gone a long time. I saw Melanie get up and I assumed she was going to search for her Beloved. I followed along like a stalker to be honest. I think Melanie and I saw Thor at the same time. He was leaning against a tree, madly and frantically making out with the Busty Amy Morgan.
The normally pleasant and soft-spoken beautiful Melanie: “Thor, you fucking bastard son-of-a-fucking asshole!”
And here I thought I couldn’t love Melanie Hero any more. I stood and watched Sweet Melanie run up to Thor, reach up and pull his hair, then with perfect aim kick him squarely in the balls. She then ran back to the fire, with me chasing her; Thor’s squeals of pain bringing Sweet Music to my ears.
I quickly sat down next to Melanie before anyone else had a chance to console her. I wanted to put my arm around her or hug her or something but I was scared as Hell. She had her face in her hands and she was crying.
Me: “You know, Melanie, you and I have something in common.”
Red-Eyed Melanie: “What’s that?”
Me: “We both belong to the ‘I Kicked Thor Magnus in the Balls Club’.”
She then unexpectedly threw her arms around me, laughed and said, “Thank you, Solomon.” She called me “Solomon”! She placed a perfect little kiss on my undeserving cheek. I’ve washed that cheek since then, but it took awhile for me to decide to wash away the Sweetness.
To make a long story short, we got married five years later. Melanie is currently an anesthesiologist at a hospital in Madison which will remain unnamed.
I’m a principal at a small high school in the Madison area. I don’t believe it either. I figured I’d spent so much time inside a pricipal’s office I might as well become one. Plus, I tried everything when I was young so nothing this generation does catches me off-guard. I think it helps that I treat them they same way I wanted all my principals to treat me. It works out pretty well.
And I’ve even written a few books thanks to Mr. Heller’s English class. They’re e-books and can be found on Amazon. I decided to use a pseudonym, Charlie Fox. Someone told me once that was a catchy name. The books are The Lady with the Bow-Legged Dog, Reflecting on Murder, and Too Many Cooks: A Cecil Livingston Whodunit. In case you’re interested. They only cost about 5 bucks. Cheap.
Last week I was visiting Dad and he informed me that he’d lost his teeth.
Me: “You what?”
Dad, speaking through a gummy mouth: “I lost my God damn teeth!”
Then I noticed that his head was completely void of choppers.
Dad: “I told Nurse Louise.”
Just then Nurse Louise entered the room, carrying a try of about nine sets of false teeth.
Nurse Louise: “Are any of these yours, Mister Quick?”
Christ, I never knew they had a Special Tray for Found Teeth. How many residents were walking around in that place trying to gnaw their food with nothing more than gums?
Nurse Louise: “Do any of these look like yours, Mister Quick?”
I watched Dad carefully examine the platter of dentures.
Dad: “I’m not sure. Maybe these.”
Then he picked up a set and popped them in his mouth. He moved his mouth around then said, “Nope. Not these,” and put them back on the tray.
I gotta say, I was pretty disgusted. On the third try he found a set that-if they weren’t his-were at least acceptable.
“These’ll do,” he said. Then he grinned. His smile looked a little different but I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to ruin the moment and piss on his parade. I mean, how wonderful that must have been for him to find his lost dentures. That had to make him almost as happy as seeing me.
As Nurse Louise was about to leave the room I said, “Hey Nurse Louise, I was wondering; what do you do if someone loses their colostomy bag?”
“Simon, don’t be a-”
“I know Dad,” I said, squezzing his hand. ” I know.”