This morning, lying awake just after waking, facing the wall, I heard from behind me, like right up close to my back where TarBaby would often be in the morning, I heard a cat purring. I lay quietly listening. He could not have come into the house, because windows and door were closed. It was TarBaby's particular purr. Caterpillar has been sleeping about 5 feet away, so I reasoned it was Caterpillar. I turned over to look, no cat in sight. The purring stopped as soon as I turned. If I hear it again, I'll stay still and listen. Another case of hearing him at the door and finding nothing there. That one I can dismiss as a surprise wheeze in my breathing that sounded like a cat saying, Mao. As far as I can tell, this is the first time TarBaby has contacted me. This was unmistakable. A couple mornings when I was sleeping on the floor at Jr's I felt TarBaby beside my back. He was living in the body then, so it doesn't necessarily mean he's dead, though after 2 weeks I can't help but think he is. By dead I mean spirit left the body, spirit still living, only body dead.
The rest of the day I put programs in the laptop for the printer, scanner, etc. Only came upon one thing to make me raise my voice and Tapo look over to see what set the giant off. For Microsoft Word, for some reason they wanted the 25 figure "product key," which, of course, was on the bottom of the computer. I turned it up on a corner, wrote down the letters and numbers painstakingly attentive to double, triple checking with a magnifying glass. I entered them. Not it. I turn the computer up again and every letter as I have it entered is correct. I tried again. Incorrect. What made Tapo look up was when I said, It IS correct!!! I checked and re-checked countless times and it never would receive what I gave it, which was correct. I wrote to a help line a direct declarative statement of the issue. The answer I received was I gave too many questions to answer. Wanted me to narrow it down to one question. The computer answer genie doesn't appear to have much better sense than a committee. The thing about it is, I know it's me. Something about it I'm not doing right. I typed all the letters and numbers with caps lock on because it was all cap letters, and numbers are numbers with caps lock too. Tomorrow's exploration will be to see if it will receive what I type in if I don't use caps lock for the numbers, do the numbers in lower case, as it were. I'm not trying it any more today because I've dawdled in tech mechanics enough for one day.
The painting above of Art Wooten was the first in my series of mountain musicians, the first ones on wood. Jr's response to seeing his friend Art when I handed it to him was astonishment. He had no idea I could get a likeness that was like seeing Art himself. Up to that moment Jr had felt sorry for me because I couldn't weld, couldn't fix tractors, couldn't work a sawmill, couldn't drive a truck, didn't hunt, couldn't cut up a deer hanging by it's back feet, couldn't do nothing that was practical. He never said anything, but for quite a while he took me for plain pitiful. Then he saw I could paint a likeness of someone he knows so he recognized him. He didn't feel sorry for me after that. Next I showed him one I painted of him picking banjo. That one caused him to get quiet for a moment, look at the floor and say, 'Thank you.' Every time I finished one of the paintings, I took it to show him.
Sometimes we'd talk about them. He said, "I don't see how you do it. How did you learn how to do that?" I told him I figured it out the same way he figured out a banjo and learned to work on tractors and weld. He understood that. It took the mystery out of it, made it something he could comprehend. I told him it's one of them things, like he got the gift for banjo pickin and I got the gift for painting. We all get our own talent. A lot of people think painting is something you either have or don't have. They tried it once and it was terrible. So was everybody's first attempt. But if that's when you give up, it's a pretty good sign it's of no interest as something to spend any time doing. Right now, I don't know what's up with my painting. Haven't touched it in 2-3 weeks. I look at it every day, but seldom approach it. In this grieving period over Jr, I don't feel like painting or anything, and then TarBaby in there too, I don't have what it takes to want to paint. I don't want to do anything. I like to see people and I like to be here alone. Now, it's best to stay at home because I feel so down and out. No need to pass it around like the flu any more than I have to.
It could be a good time to keep an abstraction going, to add something to it every once in awhile, build it over a period of time until it's finished. No. It's a good time to take it easy, let this sorrow play its course and pass. I've an idea if I talked with a particular psychotherapist I'd be told I'm depressed and pills would help. But I want Jr to have a full grieving cycle. I miss him. I miss his spirit. Jr's spirit was wide awake and alive at all times. I'm not afraid of sorrow. I find when I'm in what I'll call a depression, I'm working in my head on something that's an issue that's come up, something I need to deal with that's more than just trimming toenails. I'm of the mind I'd rather deal with my own issues than be going about happy all the time like it's the Ozzie and Harriet Show. That's ok too, but I feel better about it when it's my own temperament I'm living with. It's not harmful to others. It's harmful to myself, but in such a slow way it's hard to notice. I don't want to get old and helpless anyway. I'm every day glad I was able to keep Jr out of the nursing home, except for the physical therapy rounds, made it possible for him to fade away at home, the only place he wanted to be. It gives me a big inner glow to do such a thing for a Blue Ridge Mountain hillbilly banjo pickin sawmiller and tractor mechanic who trusted me so well he told me the contents of his will the day he signed it, trusting absolutely I'd never tell anyone. And I still won't. Such trust is for all time. It's the kind of trust that doesn't come lightly or quickly. It's earned. That's the part that makes me feel good about it, that in my time with Jr Maxwell I earned his trust. That's important to me. Way up there high important. It was never a purpose, because I never would have believed it possible. Very different in hindsight from in foresight.