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Monday, July 14, 2014


vincent van gogh

This morning, having coffee, sitting at the desk with computer, I heard what sounded like mouse scratchings in the wall to my right. I saw this small table with a drawer I keep a lamp on, thought I'd open the drawer an inch or two if a mouse was maybe inside the drawer; I've heard mice won't stay in a drawer that is open. I pulled the drawer open about two inches and saw the business card of Lorne R. Campbell. It felt like he was speaking to me after the meditation on him last night writing. It wasn't spooky; I don't find such coincidences spooky, rather quite natural. Taking it for spooky comes from interpreting it from outside self, whereas I see it coming from inside self. Can't explain it, but I'm so used to it, I take no special note of such coincidences anymore. If it means his spirit came to visit me, I doubt it. His soul would be well established in a new body. He's been gone twenty-four years. I'd guess he's at least twenty, someplace unknown to me and anybody else. Last time, he was born in British Columbia to Scottish immigrant parents. They moved to San Diego, California, when he was eight. He grew up on Coronado Island the other end of a long bridge from the city, played tennis in high school. His senior year he represented his school for the city-wide tournament. For the final round, city champion, he was put up against a kid with some sort of physical impairment, and Campbell could not allow himself to beat the kid. Where's the honor in beating a cripple? He gave the game to the kid and let him be the champion. After school he took a merchant ship from San Diego to New York by way of the Panama Canal, late 1920s, was delayed in Panama for a six-month jail term, more than likely for something involving liquor and a woman. I forget the actual reason. I felt a sense of visitation when I saw the card, felt like he was thanking me for the consideration I'd given him writing about him, for the trust. I felt it almost as if he were in the room speaking to me.
vincent van gogh
I'm recalling something he passed to me leaving the body. He had spoken a few times of my weak self-confidence, something he saw I needed to work on. I heard him. By chance, I was staying a few weeks in Miami, painting, when he had his collapse in New Smyrna Beach, just south of Daytona. His wife was wheelchair bound, he called and asked me to drive up to take him to a doctor's office, a four hour drive. He asked me to stay with them. I saw two helpless people needed a hand. I drove to Miami, picked up my objects and returned to take care of things like going to the grocery store, whatever comes up, to have someone in the house who could function and drive the car, to pick him up from the floor if needed. It was pretty clear to both of us these were his last days. He needed rest, time to sleep. I helped to keep everyday life necessities out of his head while his mortal frame was waning fast. I knew this was his final days and knew just as well that the shit would start the moment of his demise and I'd be in it up to my eyeballs for at least a few days. It was one of those times I said I-can-handle-it with a fair certainty I could not. As long as I had my keys in my pocket, I was free. Pushed past my limit, all I needed to do was turn the key in the ignition. Having such a clearly defined exit I was able to handle it fairly well when the buzzards started flying in, two of her brothers, one a fraud of a chaplain in the Navy, the other one a vacancy with the television on and nobody home. It was obvious from the start they were there to be sure I did not confiscate the South African Krugerrands Lorne kept in a little safe in a closet anybody who wanted it could easily carry away, and it was never locked. I didn't give a shit about his damn Krugerrands. I didn't want anything, which nobody believed about me, because they, themselves, were there wanting. It was funny being under suspicion for what they were there to do. I could see it, they didn't know I could, and they kept me in stitches by simply being fake in everything they said and did, pretending sincerity like bad actors. Lorne's daughter arrived, who was my friend; we supported each other under the gaze of the buzzards. Her brother arrived and I left, given that she had support in him. They were the children of his second of three wives.  
vincent van gogh
The buzzards offered me Lorne's car, wanting rid of the nuisance of its negligible market value, which I declined, an old land yacht Lincoln with an excellent motor, in good physical condition, a good highway car, but I wasn't going to be driving about in Sparta in a Lincoln. The wrong people look. I didn't want to pay taxes on it. Didn't want to pay for repair parts, expensive tires. I just wanted what I had, a 78 Toyota pickup that stayed with me until the frame rusted away. I didn't want a land yacht. The time came very soon for me to get on up the road. My heart was heavy with grief after losing someone I respected way high up, and my reason for being involved was over. The buzzards were there to wrangle over money and things and a will. Not me. I was there to get the hell gone from there. I hit the road for Charleston, about half way to home, and visited my friend John a couple days on the way home. Next day we walked to a small movie theater that showed art films to see a film, I forget what it was. Walking back to the house, John was talking and my mind was reeling from recent experiences, deeply occupied. I really wanted silence. I let him talk while I noticed I felt something new in my walking. I felt something in the way I was walking I'd never felt before. I went within and felt the walking, asked self what was I feeling. Answer: self-confidence. I realized this was the mantle Lorne had passed to me, his student he had gifted his knowledge to and love for the people and culture of these mountains. I walked paying attention to the feeling in my gait, feeling the self-confidence in self that was conducting my subconsciously new manner of walking. The buzzards got their things; I was the one he gifted in his passing, a boost in the self-confidence he saw I needed. His thank you in spirit, for giving him the chance to rest when his energy was waning, came from the same place that called me to open the drawer this morning to see his name on a business card. The self-confidence never faded away. It continues. I drove home from Charleston in a new spirit, though in a state of sorrow, too. Nothing like the highway for processing a logjam in the head.  
vincent van gogh
I was grateful for the opportunity to be an assist to Lorne in a real way in his last days. My prayer for his passing had been that he would see it coming with enough time to come to terms with his life, the passing be painless, and that I be with him to perform prayer within. I drove home with the satisfaction that his soul had found its home in the light. He chose cremation, so there was no body left for the soul to cling to, though I knew his soul would cling to nothing this side of the veil. He'd reached a place in his life at age 80 where nothing was left for him here. His mind was on the verge of gone. His secretary, who was his mind and kept his law practice going, came down with cancer and died. The end of his practice. He knew he didn't have a lot of time left and moved to Florida to rest and get away from here, break all his habits, go out in peace, no funeral. He didn't want a funeral. He didn't want anybody at his funeral wanting to see him dead. He had a long list of people who wanted to see him dead. He wanted to trump them all and not allow them the satisfaction. I saw him dead, but didn't want him dead. He asked that his ashes be put in the New River, though I don't think any of them made it there. That was not my concern. The self-confidence was not the only gift he left me with. My fear of death fell away in that time. It just went away of its own, I noticed one day a little bit later that I wasn't afraid of dying anymore. I suddenly understood why, concerning the question to kill or be killed, Jesus would go with be killed. I believe if I were put into a kill or be killed no-way-out situation, I'd go with be killed. I also don't know that automatic self-preservation sees it that way. Do I really have that much rational control? I don't think so. I prefer not to test it. I doubt my mind has much influence on so basic an original instinct as self-preservation. Surprise doesn't allow time for rational thought. Like Peter Tosh sang, everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. My friend, Lorne, who just about everybody assessed to be bound for hell on account of general excess and never going to church, I saw go into the light.      
vincent van gogh himself

1 comment:

  1. Great story. I was privileged to have met Lorne.