Thursday, June 20, 2013

"Angel Brings What Is Desired" / "... I want to thank you for letting me be myself again ..."

Paul Klee, Ein Genius serviert ein kleines Früstück (A Spirit Serves a Little Breakfast) or Engel bringt das Gewünschte (Angel Brings What Is Desired), 1920; lithograph with watercolor.

"Lookin' at the devil
Grinnin' at his gun
Fingers start shakin'
I begin to run
Bullets start chasin'
I begin to stop
We begin to wrestle
I was on the top

I want to thank you falettinme
Be mice elf agin
Thank you falettinme
Be mice elf agin

Stiff all in the collar
Fluffy in the face
Chit chat chatter tryin'
Stuffy in the place
Thank you for the party
But I could never stay
Many thangs is on my mind
Words in the way

I want to thank you falettinme
Be mice elf agin
Thank you falettinme
Be mice elf agin

Dance to the music
All nite long
Everyday people
Sing a simple song
Mama's so happy
Mama start to cry
Papa still singin'
You can make it if you try

I want to thank you falettinme
Be mice elf agin
(Different strokes for different folks, yeah)
Thank you falettinme
Be mice elf agin

Flamin' eyes of people fear
Burnin' into you
Many men are missin' much
Hatin' what they do
Youth and truth are makin' love
Dig it for a starter, now
Dyin' young is hard to take
Sellin' out is harder

Thank you falettinme
Be mice elf agin
Thank you falettinme
Be mice elf agin
Thank you falettinme
Be mice elf agin
I want to thank you falettinme
Be mice elf agin"

-- Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), Sly and the Family Stone, 1969

This morning I received an email announcement for an art exhibit at The Contemporary Jewish Museum and wished I lived closer to San Francisco and could easily visit.  In particular, I liked the painting by Paul Klee and thought I would like to use it in a blog post today. 

Later this morning, soon after the summer solstice* had occurred, I was sitting in a cafe eating soup and talking with a friend and was startled because I thought I could hear a song that I haven't heard for years and which I clearly remember hearing on the car radio in 1970 while Richard was in Vietnam and in the five turbulent months we lived together after his return.  With all the noise in the cafe, I had to strain to be sure I was hearing what I thought I was hearing, while trying to listen to my friend at the same time.  I felt something stirring in my heart. 

Then I remembered that today was the day in 2008 that half of Richard's ashes were buried at San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery.  As most of you know, I had driven south nearly 1000 miles to be at his bedside at the Palo Alto VA Hospital and to say goodbye the week before he died on April 20. Something told me I needed to return to the north after saying that goodbye.  It had not been at all easy to leave his ICU room, and a nurse talked with me and assured me that I had done all I could do and encouraged me to let him go.  Later I learned that soon after I told him I loved him and said goodbye and that it was okay to go toward the light, he slipped into a coma.  The doctors and staff told his sister that it appeared that he had been waiting for me, that he had held on to life way beyond what had been expected.  At times I feel guilty for not having stayed with him until the moment of his death.  At other times, I wonder if he needed for me to say goodbye so that he could let go.  I have heard many stories since then of similar circumstances where a dying person will not die until someone visits and the letting go into death process begins.

I didn't return to California for the memorial service.  Later I learned that his youngest brother had scattered the other half of his ashes at the ocean near where Richard and I had met 42 years previously.  

The young waitress who served us this morning had a small simple elegant tattoo on the triceps of her left arm.  It was all one dark color --  a stylized Japanese-style flower with five round petals within a circle and a few other marks. The entire tattoo was about 2 inches in diameter. I'd recognize it again if I saw it but couldn't find one like it on Google images. 

On June 20, 2008, I had posted this.  The tattoo on the arm of the young waitress brought to my mind the drawings on the backs of envelopes that Richard had done while on the airplane on his way to Vietnam in January of 1970.  

On her inner left wrist there was another tattoo. It was simply the word Peace.

When the young waitress brought the check, I told her of the series of coincidences.  Her eyes widened and she smiled tentatively and then said, "That gives me the heebie jeebies."

While working on this post, I received an email from PeaceTrees Vietnam, announcing a Citizen Diplomacy trip to Vietnam at the end of September.  I had hoped Richard and I could visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial or Vietnam and find the healing that eluded us while he was alive.

When I stopped at the grocery store on my way home, the sales receipt was for $19.68.  It was in 1968 that Richard and I made a commitment to each other that lasted 40 years.  

Yesterday the day lilies on my porch began to bloom.  It's been raining steadily all day long, and it is an extraordinarily beautiful day:

"... I want to thank you for letting me be myself again..."

"...take what you have gathered from coincidence..." 

*... this year, the solstice happens on Thursday, June 20 for places in North America west of the Central Time Zone, occuring at 11:04 P.M Mountain Daylight Time and 10:04 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time

Addendum:  I received this in an email yesterday as well.


Sabine said...

You wrote an extraordinarily beautiful post on this extraordinarily beautiful day,

Bev said...

It is amazing how much the heart remembers - the smallest details - a date, a word, a certain hour, a strain of music, the way the sun dances on water. Such memories are not erased by the passage of time. They resurface like passing clouds obscuring the sun throughout the day.

am said...

Thank you, Sabine.

That's so true, Bev. It is the heart that remembers all this.