Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Fencing Christmas Gifts and the Past

My family surprised me. I got some fencing Christmas gifts. I did not need anything for my kit really bad, so I did not ask for anything fencing related.

Note : I do need/want some things. I need a new foil and a test weight for epee. ( Yeah...I know....Why would he need a foil?) I need some little things. My Allstar mask is looking a bit worse for the wear, but these are things I need to do myself.

Nonetheless, my family came through. I got a fencing Christmas tree ornament and coffee cup. I also got a fencing clock. Who knew they made this sort of thing? This is a nice addition to the " man cave " I am slowly putting together my fencing and computer room.
There is a lot of junk in it right now. There is a lot of junk the kids left here, but I can't throw away. I am working on it though.

This is also the room were my son gives me no quarter when we play Halo. There is no way a human can be so consistently lucky!

I only get to play when he brings his X Box home. We enjoy talking junk to each other. He is particularly annoying at it. Of course his whole sense of humor is based on BEING annoying! Sometimes we will watch the recorded version of the game we played so, we can go into depth in our insults.

One of my coolest Christmas presents was a collage of photos that Sam and his tiny girl friend Kayla made for me, It is nicely framed. It contains photos of me off my computer from a fencing tournament or two. They must have taken some off one of Woody's sites as well. Stick figure Jim is there. There was an old picture of the leaders and coaches of the DFC. Everyone  made a super hero character using a computer program. I could not figure out how to make one, so Woody did a stick figure of me with a "J" and a cape. I always liked stick figure Jim. There is also a photo of the "Scooby Gang"; USFA logo and some other things as well. This ( from my perspective ) is one of the coolest things in the man cave.

It was a good Christmas. I had dreaded this one, as it would be the first one with out one of my parents. It would not be the same.

We had 17 people over for dinner last night. That sort of helped with the feeling of family.
Don't get me wrong, the feeling of family is always strong and with me.  We are very, very close. However, when the last of your parents dies, there is this little part of you that is now alone.

Editors Note: This was supposed to be about fencing, as much as it could be, without doing any. However, it is evolving and I am going with it.

Another thing that happened this weekend was sort of a very strange "closer" on the past. Friday night, after fencing, ( such as it was) I came home and just glanced down at the newspaper laying open on the coffee table. There were the obituaries and there was a last name I knew. It was the mother of a girl I had dated ( on and off ) or at least kept in touch with from the time I was 18 until I was in my mid-twenties. All modesty aside, I dated a lot of girls. However, this was a very long lasting relationship. I knew her and her family. Her dad was a nice man and her sister and I got along really good. Her mom did not care for me much, but I was a hippie-looking kid and I get this.

I felt like the miracle of seeing this obituary was a sign  that was telling me to stop by the funeral home. I mean....what are the odds that anyone will go fencing and come home and want to take a look at the obituaries in the evening paper?

So I went.

I was there early. I stood in the same funeral home that I had used to bury my father this year. I was in the same room that my Mom was in when we did this for her. There was a flood of emotion as I stood there in a short line. I should also mention, at this point.......I was invisible. It was a strange sensation. I was not truly invisible, but it was as close to it as you can come in a room full of people.

I can tell you from experience that the people in a funeral line like this are numb and brain dead. They are made so from grief and stress. If you couple this with not seeing someone in close to 30 years, there is no reason to expect that anyone would recognize you....or even really see you. I had the advantage. I knew who these people were. If I had passed them on the street, I doubt I would have known them either. I listened to my old girl friend speak to a relative right next to me. She did not see me at all, though I was at arms length.Her daughter stood next to her and I studied her like a piece of artwork. She was closer to the age that I remembered her mom. I subtracted the elements of her father that stood next to her. Even so, this was not Beth, but yet a part of her.I could not remember, as I stood there, how our relationship ended. Were we on good terms when we parted? I decided to be reserved as it came to be my time.

I shook her hand and said, " I amsorry for your loss Beth." Itwas if time stopped, as I watched her face. It was not the face I knew from all those years ago, but if you looked close, that face was still there. Time moved in slow motion. I saw her brow wrinkle and her lips frown in concentration. I saw her huge smile of recognition as she leaped up and threw her arms around my neck. I heard the joy in her voice as she turned to a friend and explained who I was. I was visible again.

I moved down the line and became visible to her father and sister, though not in such a dramatic way.

I saw her mother laying there were mine had also laid. I studied pictures from Abby's past and it was time to leave.

I headed towards the door and threw up my hand in farewell to Beth. It was at this point when time faded and I was swept back to the past. She stomped her foot and mouthed for me to get over here. She was bossing me around just as she had all those years ago. Just as before, I allowed her to do so. It always made me half smile that this tiny girl would on occasion order me around. She reached up and held my hand in hers. She asked about my parents. She asked if I was still married and she asked about my kids.

I do not remember how this short conversation ended. I just remember heading to my car in the funeral home parking lot.

Some how I think this was good for Beth, but I also think that some how it was meant for me as well. On that night, shortly before Christmas, my past and my parents and my memories all merged for a time. While I have come to no conclusion about all this as of yet, I know that it some how put me at peace for the holidays.

This Christmas when I took a piece of Christmas candy from my Mom's old candy dish, it was as if she was handing it to me. And when I caught myself singing old Marty Robin's cowboy songs loudly in the shower, I knew my Dad was with with me.

It was a good Christmas.

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