Sunday, March 9, 2008

Daylight Savings Time

Every year, my daddy (Pokey) is amazed by the time change. For days, sometimes weeks, he will say, "This time yesterday..." or "This time last Thursday..." or similar. So, ever since we've been dating, Jimmy has called Pokey on the day after we spring-forward or fall-back to say (in his best impersonation of Pokey's voice), "Pokey, this time yesterday..." They joke and tease and enjoy their special bond formed through hours of fishing and hateful phone calls.

One time, not too long ago, Jimmy didn't get around to making the call. You'd have thought we had forgotten Pokey's birthday, or Christmas, or some other equally important holiday. There was much teasing and harrassing from everyone. Needless to say, we won't ever forget again!

Which brings me to my next point: I know I've pondered losing Daddy before and what that will be like. My sister, in all her martyrdom, was complaining about him this weekend (more on that later) and left a voicemail that ended with "Anyone want a father to take care of?" The obnoxious thing is that I would love to have my daddy closer and would even sell my house and buy a new one for him to move in with us, or help him find some sort of gradually-assisted living nearby, or whatever, but he'll never leave Southport now.

And one of these days, the time will change, and we'll go to call him, and he won't be able to take our call. Like Momma, he'll be conveniently unavailable. Dead, that is. On perpetual daylight savings time.

And despite whatever my sister might think, it will be a loss.

He recently had his knee replaced and can't wait to get the other one done. Well, despite some anemia and nausea, his recovery is coming along rather nicely for a 74 year old smoker who has always seemed fully a decade older than his real age. Then late last week, it started giving him exceptional grief. Millie took him to the ER yesterday, and sure enough, his kneecap is broken in half, with part of it floating north of its proper location and the other slightly south. Doc says it can only be repaired with another surgery, which will be sometime this week, I would imagine. There's this little anxious voice in my head that reminds me that he might not make it. Besides the obvious inconvenient kink his untimely death would throw in our crazy life schedule, it would also throw a wrench in the very works of my being. I'll be an orphan. Weird.

I've spent so much of my life preparing for Momma's death, that I haven't ever given the same level of thought to Pokey's. I always imagined he'd just lie down after a Nascar race on TV for a Sunday afternoon nap and not wake up. I've never thought about his funeral or what it would really be like without him. And honestly, this close to another surgery, I don't think I want to!

So, y'all pray for my Pokey. I'll be sure to let you know when he's out of surgery and back on his feet. Meanwhile, there's as much laundry to be done here as this time yesterday...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Anything will help...

Alright, let me preface this by saying that I am a big honkin' bleeding heart liberal for the most part and that I have huge soft spots for the mentally ill and the homeless and especially for those who are both, BUT...

We were on our way to Harbison (shopping HELL) on Saturday afternoon to spend money frivolously and at the end of the exit ramp, there sat a man in the standard "down on my luck" mode. He had taken a plastic "Hollywood Video Is Closing" sign, written his story on the reverse, and sat there with his beverage and backpack, hoping for help. His plea for assistance read:

"Raped by the government
Robed by the police
Wife ran off with a Negro
Lost my job to a Mexican.
Anything will help."

Surprisingly enough, I was able to surpress my urge to jump out with a Sharpie and correct "robed," possibly because he had remembered to capitalize Negro and Mexican, possibly because I was so f-ing enraged that he had the gall to sit on his sorry white butt and make such ridiculous and appalling comments while expecting a handout.

So now you're asking, "What about that makes him mentally ill?" Okay, so if the scary reasoning and audacity weren't your first clues, he really was showing some classic signs of disturbia - talking to apparently no one, jerking his head in an unusual "I hear things" kind of way, very amused with himself. That, and he STOLE a freaking sign (I guess it was somehow owed to him or maybe he was a real greenie reuse-recycle kind of guy). Not sure where he got the pen (I'd have used a bolder font, but that's just me being picky again). Not sure where he got the soda (some Lexington County Hero probably handed it to him with an "Amen, brother!"). Not sure where he was heading or if he was heading anywhere.

I think it was the "Anything will help" line that bothered me more than the pathetic racism and clever anti-government slurs. REALLY? ANYTHING will help? How about an education? How about some meds? How about you get up off that ass and walk over to the WalMart and ask them if you can maybe mop their floors third shift? Beloved husband's response was delicious: "You know that dogshit I just scooped before we left? I wonder if I had put that in a sack and handed it to him if that would help?"

Truthfully, I know why we got so worked up about it. There but by the grace of Pat and Patty goes Larry. It could have just as easily been him sitting there whining about how hard life has been for him and how he can't get a break and how much the world owes him. Although his life is much farther from the fringes than it has been in 15 years or so, he still walks a path not so far-removed from the one our exit ramp friend has trod. I find myself waffling between states of pride in his baby-step accomplishments, total fury at his stupid choices (primarily his failure to act on anything other than impulse), and even total he-ain't-my-brother-nor-my-problem apathy. This consumes a part of my energy, life, heart that I am not always excited about losing to his cause.

But, like I said, I am a softie. The man with the crappy attitude at the end of the exit ramp was somebody's child, maybe even somebody's brother or husband, surely once was somebody's friend. And Jesus told us to love him.

URG! That darn Jesus is such a show-off! Is it easy for Him to love everyone? It sure is NOT easy for a judgy girl like me. Not easy for one who has always done what she was supposed to and who still fears disappointing ANYONE. Not easy for any of us, I think. On the eve of what will SURELY bring the Democratic party to nominate either a woman or (I pray) a black man, I like to think that I am able to love everyone, but in the end, I struggle. I can't figure out how to love the guy with the sign who seems to have no one else. I can't figure out how to love Hillary. (I for SURE can't figure out how to love W.) There are people I work with daily that I have to remind myself to love. If love is all we need, then why is it sooooooo difficult to do?

So, I should go find the guy and edit his sign... It isn't that ANYTHING will help; LOVE will help. It's the knowing how to love that we need a manual for. Maybe all of us should spend less time being irritated by those in need and more time asking our Maker to teach us and help us to love.

(I really didn't know where I was going with this post, but I think I like where I got. I started just wanting to tell the shocking you-won't-believe-what-this-guy's-sign-said story and I ended up all theological. When I go to seminary one day (HA!) I'll be sure to use the line about Jesus being a show-off in an early sermon, just to see if they kick me out.)