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Friday, April 16, 2010


tarbaby memorial

This morning I took down the large b&w photo of Tommy Jarrell playing fiddle from above the home entertainment unit and replaced it with a painting I made of TarBaby when he was about a year old sitting on a fence post. Only about 5" of the top of the post visible, the post a pedestal for the cat, like a block of wood or stone a sculpture stands on. Somehow it happened that it's not just a painting of a black cat, it's TarBaby in particular, almost in person. Somehow the eyes just happened as TarBaby's eyes. I look at it now and it's almost like his spirit is in the painting. Like the feeling I had after painting Tom Pruitt, that his spirit was in it. It's still in it. I'll never sell either and both are accounted for upon my demise. Tom will stay in his family and TarBaby is for Meredith. I know if Meredith had known TarBaby she would love him as I have.

It still doesn't feel right. No matter how I try to accept it, it's not right. Nothing is right about it. I have to disclaim that I am in full acceptance of it as the right time, and will be happy to find that acceptance, but haven't yet. I can't help but conjecture that when I took him to the vet at 7 on a Sunday morning, when he was within a few hours of dying, that might have been his time. He came back to give me some more time. Our friendship grew in those 4 months as closely as my friendship with Jr grew in his last 4 months to such, that like Jr said, we are like brothers. Maybe TarBaby chose a quick way out when he'd finished what he stayed with me to do, to weave our souls inseparable. I open my arms and say to him, Please come live inside me, live in my heart, if that's what you want. I want it too. This evening after I walked in the house from seeing friends I sat down and spoke to TarBaby. I found myself singing to him his song I started singing to him when he was a kitten a few weeks old. Each one has their own song. I sang TarBaby's song to him a long time, calling his spirit, tears dripping off my chin, questioning my good sense, throwing that out the door like a banana peel. I was singing to my friend in my heart, where he's been all along anyway. It did my heart good. And I'll do it again and again.

Acceptance is on the slow boat. I'm like John Lee Hooker sitting by the waterfront waiting for his baby. There's fog in the harbor, waiting for the ship that's carrying his baby to him. It's a quiet, talking kind of song with his guitar making notes around his voice, waiting in the fog. The song is The Waterfront. It's done as only John Lee Hooker can do it. It's his song and nobody else's, like Crawlin King Snake and Boogie Chillun. I'm sitting waiting in the fog for the ship that's bringing my baby, my acceptance, sitting on my bench by the waterfront. In the fog.

I stopped by to see Melia and Joe Edwards and Judy Carmichael at their Gallery in Pine Swamp. Spent a good bit of time talking with them, my new friends by Jr, Melia and Judy Jr's second cousins, their daddy, his first cousin, Claude Edwards. They were super supportive in my sorrow upon losing Jr. It was their sorrow too. They've loved Jr since they were babies. Their daddy and Jr were close friends as well as cousins. Jr has always been important in their lives. Though the natures of our loss were different, all felt the void in the heart. When we're together, we bring Jr back for each other. We talk about him in our memories. And we like each other too. Throw Melia and Judy's mother in too, and they are 4 supreme human beings I am grateful to God for bringing into my life.

One of my friends suggested I make a memorial to TarBaby since I can't bury him. I liked the idea of it. But it's not me to do memorial kind of things like spontaneous ceremonies, lighting a candle and saying a prayer, for example only. It's not me. I don't believe a "ceremony" unless it comes from my own heart spontaneously. So I thought I'd wait for that, if it's to be. When the image of TarBaby took its new place, it came to life. Putting down the Jarrel photograph, I saw a foot high figurine of a black cat sitting like TarBaby in the painting. Gloss black stylized, leaning toward Deco, kind of 50s, with the three spots of eyes and nose in gold. It's a beautiful cat I found at Karen Bledsoe's shop by the river. It was so TarBaby I had to bring it home. I kept it in a box to protect it most of the time. I didn't want to stand it up anywhere, because I didn't want to chance breaking it. There was a feeling about it that after I lose TarBaby it could be my beautiful reminder to see every day. Now it is. I've found my memorial. A sculptural and a painted representation of my friend I mothered into life and never weaned. It makes me think of a mother losing her teenage daughter in a phone call telling her the girl died in a car wreck. The bottom drops out. Thats it, cat shit. Accept this.

At lunch with Jim Winfield at the Pines, we talked with a dairy farmer friend of his, who sang us some serious blues of what's become of dairy farming as a way to make a living. He's at a place where he's ready to let it all go. I talked with a friend yesterday who was telling me about his ability to walk away from a good paying job and start a little something of his own he knows will work for him from the start. When they 1984 him into a corner he might come out swinging a two-handed samurai sword. Not really. It was just an image that came to me from seeing so many Asian films with sword fighters going at it and red fluid that never looks like blood squirting even on the camera lens. Just meant it as a metaphor. He's not really going postal with a blade. Just talking about having his bases covered and the freedom he has from worry. We both like Asian sword fight movies.

Talking with Winfield at the table, I told him a little bit about the fountain of love flowing from my heart and filling my whole being with love almost beyond containment, like a cup runneth over kind of love energy going on. It's like there is a big fountain, water rushing from it in all directions. The least little thing, an old man entering the restaurant stayed outside the door as an old woman with a cane was being assisted out the door by her daughter. He helped her down the steps, stayed with her until she was steady on her feet, came in and joined his wife waiting for him. That little moment happening out the window by where we were sitting brought a welling up of tears of compassion. I said to Jim, I'm getting tender hearted in my old age. He said, I think we all do. Maybe so. I'm happy with it. It's like the fountain of compassion is a gift from God to help me in the time I sit in the fog waiting for acceptance.

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