Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Finding Jesus during lunches with Dad...

Last night the most amazing thunder storm rolled through in the middle of the night - the perfect Florida storm, cool wind pushing rain drops downward against the screen on the porch, lightening in the distance illuminating the outlines of the trees against a strobe light sky. I sat out back in my bathrobe (probably to the dismay of my older neighbors) and just watched and listened to that storm - good stuff. Not to mention the vodka cranberry was making things even better.

I called my Dad last night - he is really my best friend, and probably the only one I have ever trusted to really talk to about just about anything - his word is gold - even though he can be a pretty cranky prick at times. Anyway, anyone who has spent a few minutes reading my streams of consciousness on this blog knows that I need a confidant to express some of the deeper seeded crap that they instilled upon me when I was a little kid. I made a date with him today to just see him and each lunch and talk over some of things that were wearing me out - and making me feel like a million bucks - you see, I know that man has been there, and he is not afraid to tell anyone that going some places is tough - but going anywhere is always worth it. About four years ago, he was in a pretty horrible accident - dirt truck ran over his minivan (sounds pretty funny) - basically it brought a sense of mortality to a man that was always alive and kicking - he went through several surgeries, and almost died from that "MRSA" hospital staph infection - and spent another year in the hospital with a knee that looked like Phyllis Diller without her wig....none the less, he grew up in a Catholic Orphanage in New Orleans and then the Boys Ranch outside of San Antonio - after that he got a little patriotic and went to Vietnam (twice - because cleaning dead bodies out of aircraft for one year just was not enough for him - did I mention I come from a long line of slow learners?) My Papa (grandfather) was an alcoholic cab driver in the Big Easy (I never knew him when he drank) and my real grandmother died of tuberculosis when my dad was five. My Papa died in a home in St. Bernard, about a mile from the trailer he lived in with his second wife - a former waitress at Howard Johnson's on the Quarter. He died insane - and I can still remember the calls he would make to me (he thought I was his other son, Ronnie) - he would call and ask me to get some money to him so he could pay the doctors off so they would let him out the hospital....that was tough - but he was a neat man - he was allergic to cat hair, but this pitiful little kitten came over the levee one day, and he just had to feed and care for it - so he would shave the cat bald every week - but that damn cat loved him, and would sit on his shoulder like a pirates parrot.

Needless to say, I did not mean to go into a family history - I could probably go into the other side of the family, but I suspect there are fewer branches... (I do live in the South).

The discussion at lunch today was terribly serious, the Whataburger shack filled with all sorts of folks - those construction workers just cooling off, the business people escaping their cubicle fields - your average collection of taxpayers and friends grabbing a bite. Of course, I went into the diatribe about everything that is going on right now, and just looked at him for a response - and he just sat and thought for about thirty seconds - and he said, "Son, I love you. You have options and choices and talents that I never had, but, you need to cool your jets and think this through." (He paused and took a sip of his coffee), "You are running on instinct - your family, your friends, your passions - they are on your autopilot - and you know what - that is where they should be - we all run out of answers, and you need to pray about it." Now that's where I really started to lose it - pray about it? What the hell kind of help is that - my dad is deeply spiritual - and so am I - but what the hell am I supposed to pray for - right now, I don't need answers - I am not seeking the truth - in fact, I wish people would lie to me a little bit more, I could use some friendly patronizing - in fact, just smile and nod and that way I know I am getting screwed, and can at least relax and enjoy it.

Needless to say, I pretty much shut down until he said one thing to me - "You are my son, and I want you to be able to find peace and passion - no matter where you find it, and no matter what you do, you will always be my son. Just remember that being stupid forces you to be tough - and love is what it is - we don't choose it, it chooses us." Now that we were off the subject of God and Jesus - it was good -

It was an exhausting lunch - but it was a good lunch. Just to sit with my dad, listen to him talk, challenge me, push me, and then finally just hug me and tell me he loved me was what I needed today. He knows that I am probably going to screw up, but he also wants me to know that there is always a place for me to go.

So - throwing caution to the wind, I have made some decisions - like I said, I am not looking for salvation, I don't want to be saved, I just want to feel what I need to feel - and you know what, that simple spiritual truth is undeniable - and I don't want to deny the truths that I feel right now. So I did not find Jesus, but I did get some sense of faith, that no matter how deep things go, things happen, and if there is a God, then there must be a reason for it - other than a cruel prank on some middle aged ass - and if it is the devil - well, the devil be damned, I am just not in a place to say no to him either.

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