Thursday, October 07, 2010

some of the disappeared


It's my stepfather's birthday today. Or, well, it would be, if he and my mother had married and if he had stayed in my life in some way, or in hers.

Sometimes I check out his name on the internet, but there aren't any hits that make sense. Of course, he could well have changed his name. He could perhaps be dead, but if he were dead...I think, if he were dead, somehow the echos from far away and long ago would reach me even here.

It's not as though he was in fact, in any way at all, a father to me. It's not as if he held me on his knee or read me stories or walked me to school. I had a father. That father also did none of those things, but, well, he was my father.

Tony, well, Tony's something else again. When I met him he was motorcycle slick and back from Vietnam. He'd met my mother in a bar. He said she seemed so sad, so beautiful, sitting in the corner nursing her drink, her long gold hair spilling over that black dress. He had to go over.

And I gather things progressed from there, I don't know, I was traveling through Europe. The last thing that mattered to me was the love affairs of my 40 something beautiful mother.

I'm not even sure Tony was 30 yet, back then. But they had a lot of years together, and mostly they seemed happy, and he helped her through some of the really rough ones, the years of crime and punishment, the years when my brother served time for murder, the years the world seemed to fall apart.

He carried my picture in his wallet and showed his friends. My mother said he'd say "This is my beautiful daughter and her children". Yeah, it was strange. Sure, it was touching.

He helped seal the roof of my cabin one year. And somewhere along the way he disappeared.

Well, my mother's life kind of fell apart that year, between the cancer and the end of her job and the loss of her apartment, and she was swept up to North Dakota by my other brother.

The last time I heard from Tony I was visiting her there--it was maybe 14 years ago. He called, he always called, said my mother, he always promised he'd come up, only there was a court case. Only there was a job somewhere. Only there was another woman, or two or three. Only...

My brothers won't even mention his name. My mother in those days was...discreet. I never knew quite what she thought, quite what she felt; she was busy trying to survive. She managed another year.

I guess he knows she's dead.

I think of him on his birthday, because it is close to my own, and easy to remember. I wonder where he is, and what was ever true, back in those days. With his startling blue eyes he claimed he was Indian, he claimed he knew the old ways. He taught my son how to make paint of flower petals.

It left the slightest stain.

(the photo, which was titled "umbrella man" is from Flicker, where the photographer goes by mysza 831)

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3 Comments:

Blogger christopher said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:47 PM, October 10, 2010  
Blogger christopher said...

Had technical difficulties and apologize. Here's the post again:


Word ver. mysamene... That is from a small and disappearing dialect found on an obscure planet many light years from here. It doesn't translate at all well but the gist is "I(sort of) hold your {untranslatable} in my(sort of) {untranslatable}."

Stalking The Hermits

The world has swallowed
the best of me and of you
as we both well know.
It can't be any
other way for us after
all this time on point.

Walking point's been forced
on us, as if we might know
where the gray hermits
lurk, that we might, of
all the others, lure them out.
They are wanted so
we can plant the corn.

8:01 PM, October 10, 2010  
Blogger Kathryn Grace said...

Wherever he is, I pray that Tony be blessed, for whatever comfort his presence gave that young woman that was you.

12:33 PM, October 15, 2010  

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