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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

THE THREE OF US

a good year for apple blossoms



It's a beautiful spring every way you look at it. Some of the trees are still in bud and some are opening. Birds are trickling back in. My cats won't be the danger to birds they once were. Tapo and Caterpillar are too slow now for catching birds, though Caterpillar brought me a mouse one day last week. It's open season on mice year round. The rain has been at night and the ground wet during the day, sky somewhat overcast (partly sunny), keeping the colors vibrant and the small leaves coming up out of the ground too. It's a happy spring for the green world.



I used that word green. So tired of it. It's like the word natural was used to death in advertising 35 years ago, such that now it's meaningless, but it looks good and continues to sell products. Now they're doing the same with green. It's green! Voila! Green is not a color any more. We have green lightbulbs that give white light, and now we have green footprints. Maybe a tarheel is a carbon footprint. That's getting weird, calculating carbon footprints. So much is weird now, I've been calling up News Of The Weird from my new MSN homepage. It's a lot more interesting than corporate news. Somebody mailed somebody else a big boa constrictor in a box. What do you do when your pet boa outgrows the house? Mail it to somebody. Of course. The news of the really weird is young guys getting themselves maimed for life, physically, mentally and emotionally, willingly, for a fake war that's been known as such since before it started. Keep the working class in poverty and there's an endless line of young guys looking for a job.



I'm thinking of Jean lately. Always do, but more recently. More than likely it's because I've bought some African violet potting soil and fertilizer to repot the pair of African violets she gave to Jr a few weeks before she died. I kept them going for him, as he was partial to them as they represented Jean, his friend of 15 years, who appreciated him in ways he didn't understand, for who he was, for Jr himself. When he'd pat her on the ass, she'd turn around like Tapo when Caterpillar touched her, and hiss at Jr, "I love you Jr, but not like that!!!" He'd smile to himself, got himself a cheap feel. It irritated the hell out of her until she quit coming around. I tried to talk to Jean, like a man, "So what if he touches your ass. What's the big damn deal?" That only told Jean I'm just like all the other men. I don't get it. He wanted her to marry him and take care of him in his old age. He had enough assets to make it worth her while. She was mortified. He was scrawny and old and physically repellent. I was thinking she'd had nothing but seriously abusive redneck husbands, why not a gentle old man who thinks she's hot? Out of the question. I thought of a young woman I'd worked with not long before. A guy working at one of the banks had a thing for her. He was clearly infatuated. He ask her out, she declined. I asked her what was up, the guy drives a dually. She said he'd be too nice to her. She doesn't like guys that are nice to her. Ok, whatever trips your trigger. I think Jean was the same way. Could be it's a daddy thang. Familiar. Home. The guy mom divorced because she couldn't live with him and his baby doll missed him so bad.



When I see the violet I speak to Jean in my heart, telling her how I've managed to keep it going in her memory, how the new potting soil and fertilizer perked it up instantly. The years of sitting at the table with Jr and Jean bonded the 3 of us into what we didn't know at the time was a triumvirate of friends way deeper than any of us knew, so much deeper it's incomprehensible to all of us. That was my main purpose in asking Jean to let it ride when Jr felt frisky, to keep the 3 of us together. It was like there was something going on I couldn't comprehend and neither could Jean or Jr. It was so deep, it wasn't usual, therefore none of us had any experience with what we had for a relationship. It had soul importance for all of us. Maybe if I had some scrawny old woman in her late 80s pawing me, I'd feel like I had my own rights in the matter when enough can be enough. Yeah, that gives it another meaning. I wanted to say something to Jr about his hands on Jean, but it was his buisness. It was between them, totally had to do with their relationship, not mine to even think about. As it turned out, Jean had to face her mortality head on, and evidently needed her own space to handle what she had left. Of course, we imagined Jr would go first, me next, Jean last, according to age. Jean went first and it dumbfounded Jr and me.



Jean was such a value to my life, it was incomprehensible, like Jr's value, which I don't even feel compelled to sound to find its depth. I'm satisfied our three-way bond was for whatever its purpose, Jr's table the place where only kindness went around. This gathering went on for a few years, and though no one ever stopped by and listened to us talk around the table, all kinds of people knew exactly what was going on and told it about, every kind of thing that could be thought of by people that think like that. We paid it no mind. We knew what was going on and the people that weren't there were welcome to stop by and see for themselves, but never did. It was good for all of us, in my way of looking back at it. We all benefited. Jr was in the despair of loneliness he couldn't handle. I thought when I had the first few drinks with him that loneliness was his only real issue. I can't do anything to help somebody else psychologically, but I felt like I could stop by and see Jr regularly and relieve loneliness a little bit, give him somebody to talk with, have a drink with, listen to bluegrass with, somebody who respected him plenty to start with, and the respect over time grew into something bigger than respect. It was the same with Jean. Respect for different reasons, but respect all the same.



Jean had a life of major blows like Jr had, several, and much of her adult life incarcerated in mental institutions, where she would go to get away from the world of her relatives and husbands. She was never able to make a decision of her own for her own life to such a degree she withdrew to institutions where they kept her comfortably numb and she spent her time helping the staff with the patients. She loved them. She helped take care of people way out there, understood them and comforted them when no one else could get in there to them. We came to wondering if this might have been her purpose in this life, to give a little humanity to people whose minds don't work right and they can't help it. She'd been through so many sessions of psychotherapy, individually and in group, it was how she thought. She understood a great deal more than the average woman in her late 50s. The difficulty of her life that overwhelmed her had her at the bottom, walking by the side of Hwy 18 in Whitehead, "The Crazy Woman of Whitehead," between her house and Jr's. The righteous looked the other way when she walked by. She told me first time we met she was bipolar. Later she told me she'd learned to tell everybody she met up front, because when she became friends with somebody, then told them, they rejected her and it hurt. So she started telling first encounter with anyone. When a stranger never sees you again, it doesn't hurt like when a so-called friend abandons you over something they know nothing about.



I never go to what we call parties, because I learned long ago I'm more one for one to one or half dozen or less. When it comes to standing around with a throng of people holding drinks, wine now, used to be liquor until drunk driving laws made cocktail parties sober events, is not my idea of a good time. I'd rather ride a roller coaster 20 times in a row. At least it would be fun. I did that scene before moving to the mountains to get away from that mind. I gave myself permission when I moved here never to go to another cocktail party if I don't want to. I've never wanted to, but I've gone to a few, and none of them was worth the gas to get there and back. I took Jean to a few, because I wanted my friends to meet Jean, to see this is an extraordinary individual. My friends took to her like someone they hadn't seen in years and wanted to see more of.



Every once in awhile I'd see someone turn the nose up at Jean and walk away. Every time, it was someone I think of as false, somebody whose life is a fake, a fraud of a human being. I recall a man I watched snub Jean at a Christmas gathering, causing me to stay away from him. A couple years later I met him somewhere else and he said, "I think we've met." I said, "No, we haven't met, but we spent some time in the same place once." And I knew not to take anything seriously about this man. Just stay away. I took Jean to a wedding party for some friends of mine. 5 women snubbed Jean, all of them women who surprised me. If I'd thought about it, I could have anticipated it, but it never entered my mind to think about it. They hugged up on me, glad to see ya, turned to Jean, the nose went straight up, they turned literally on a heel and walked away. After the 5th one, I said to Jean, "Are you ready to go?" She said, "Yes," and out the door we went. I saw that I was in the wrong place, with or without Jean, and I could not subject her to another snubbing. We drove to Floyd, Virginia, and heard the Jugbusters play at the Floyd Country Store. Much more fun than snooty people.

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