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Tuesday, November 1, 2011


        last leaves

Halloween has come and gone. No tricker treaters out here in the country where the nearest child is at least a couple miles away, down the mountain. I never have tricker treaters at the door, so I never prepare with candy or anything. It's just another day on the calendar. Next day, November 1, is All Saints Day. Who ever heard of that? In protestant Christendom, we don't do saints. Only Catholics do saints, and the saints are Catholic, so protestants don't have anything to do with saints. Must be a Catholic holiday, if it is a holiday. Just another day on the calendar. The fact is, I didn't even know it was Halloween until I turned on the computer and the date said 10/31. I don't keep track of dates much. I don't even start preparing for Christmas presents until a few days before, or after. The only thing the end of October tells me is it will be cold for the next 6 months.

It also reminds me that November 1 is Jr Maxwell's death date. It has been 2 years. Losing friends and other loved ones is one of the more difficult aspects of living on earth. Getting along in a world of money is very difficult as well, that is, for the 99%. Yesterday I saw a photograph of a cat that lived with me 40 years ago. A welling up in my heart brought back my love for the cat, Scobie, and the sorrow of losing the cat. My regret where Scobie was concerned was that I didn't get it that the cat loved me. I didn't know then about love. Didn't know animals, birds, fish loved. But they do. Now that I've connected with the love in the animals, I see it so clearly that their love is in silence. Remembering the end of Cocteau's film, Beauty and the Beast, where Beast says to Beauty, "I am a beast. The only way a beast can show his love is to die of grief." A powerful saying.

I've found in myself when I'm feeling grief that the grief itself is an expression of love. The longer I hang onto the grief, the longer the memory of the love will last. When I've lost a friend or a pet, I allow myself to feel the grief as long as I feel it. There comes a time after about 6 months that feeling the grief begins to feel foolish. Then I start letting it go. It fades of its own. And then it's gone. Then I miss the grief, like it was the last little bit I had to hang onto of friend. I hold Caterpillar, the last of my cats, look at her and know there's coming a time of sorrow losing her, very deep sorrow at the beginning. It makes me want to love her more so I won't regret not loving her as much as she loves me. If I were to abandon her or die, she would die of grief. TarBaby and Tapo have been gone almost 2 years and I still miss them like it was just a few days ago. The pain in my heart has lifted, but I still miss them. She's 14, was born here, my home is the only place she has known, and I am the only human she has known. She's met others, but I don't know if anybody but me has ever held her. She hides when somebody comes to the house.

On the first of November I'll visit Jr's grave and take a sip of some good liquor and pour it on the grave for the memory. Somebody told me that's a waste of good liquor, but I don't agree. And I'm the one doing it. If I want to pour a gallon of liquor on his grave, I will. And I won't ask permission. I miss Jr's spirit. It was his spirit I knew when knowing him. Somebody whose disposition was automatically easy to get along with. Nurses talked of how easy a patient he was. I even thought of him as something of a mirror everybody around him sees themselves in, something like a movie star with a featureless face the viewers can project their own faces onto. It did seem to me, somewhat, that a lot of people who knew him saw themselves in him, somehow. Perhaps his absence of judgment had something to do with it. His humility had something to do with it, too.

Through the years I knew Jr, I was amused that he didn't go to church, drank liquor all his life, getting drunk on weekends the pattern, played music for dances, liked the company of the criminal minded, trusted nobody, was sometimes unfaithful, cussed, and the Churchists looked down on him as an unrepentant sinner. The more church they went to, the higher up they looked down on Jr from. He didn't care. He knew how they were. He knew who was fucking who and who kept liquor hidden. His humility was true, coming from inside himself. It had nothing to do with drawing attention to himself for being a humble man. He kept it to himself. He lived it, didn't show it. Judgment I don't believe I ever heard him speak. He didn't believe he was high enough or smart enough to look down on anybody. He told me once, not bragging, but explaining that he held everybody higher than himself. He looked up to everybody. At the time he said it, I took it for exaggeration, like that beats all I ever seen, but as time passed I saw it was his way of life. He did, indeed, look up to everybody around him.

On the day of the morning he left the body, the question came up among the people who came to the surface, the ones who cared the most about him, asked if he was saved. They asked me and my answer was that he'd told me where he'd been baptized, in the Little River where the bridge is now on Pine Swamp Road in Whitehead below Liberty Church. That set phone calls in motion to find the church records for the date. The tradition is that when you get saved, you get baptized and join the church. I think he was about 12. If he was baptized, he was saved. A rush of relaxation ran through everyone concerned. I already knew, so I was happy to be able to give them assurance his soul was all right. I didn't need to know about baptizing or getting saved. I knew his soul was right before he told me about the baptizing.

In matters of the spirit, I believe he was sent to me by God to be my teacher in a spiritual way. In the martial arts he'd be called sensei. Teacher. I learned so much from listening to Jr Maxwell for 7 years, I can only call him my teacher and be honest. So I miss him a great deal. The grief was over some time ago, but I carry a sorrow that he's gone daily, will carry it the rest of my life, however long or short. It's ok. I carry a great deal of joy as well from the years of knowing Jr. It's a balance. I cared for him at the end as the Master himself, in truth. I knew I was sent to Jr by then. I assisted my sensei in his passing. What greater honor than to be able to do that? I needed his teaching and he needed help in his helpless time. I've been wondering recently what listening to the voice of God in your heart means. God doesn't speak in words so much as sets up moments toward lighting our way, putting us in touch with people we need to be a light, and we are lights for them. I believe the voice of God in my heart guided me to Jr to be my sensei and give me an opportunity to serve the Master in spirit. Maybe I do know what the voice of God in my heart might be. One of many possible voices. Like finding the face in trees.


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