Friday, December 25, 2009

Outside the rotation: "Daughters"

One more once, headin' on up outta this joint for points East, North, and blizzardy.

A few weeks ago, in response to a very touching and heartfelt shout-out in a blog post by Shaniqua, I wrote this in response:

I wanted to write to you privately and thank you for your sweet note on the blog. I know that you have had a lot of sorrow and loss in your young life and I regret that.

But if the events of Dharmonia's and my own life had been different, I would have been proud to have a daughter who was as smart, brave, loving, and strong as you.

Much love,

Dr Coyote
The circumstances of my life, and of my life with Dharmonia, have precluded offspring: it's probably no surprise, given my own childhood experience, that my siblings have generally likewise avoided having kids. In our married life together, it's a combination of factors, none definitive in either "yea" or "nay" scenarios: poverty, psychology, 12 years of graduate school (and the poverty and psychological damage, not to mention the sheer exhaustion, which same conferred).

At any rate, ain't no kiddos in our crib. At this season, that's historically been, for me, mostly a source of petty frustration: as I've blogged before, it's goddamned tiring to be in my 4th decade of "going home to the parents' house for Christmas". If there'd been kids, at least some of those decades would have seen parents traveling, and us staying put, at this season: nothing will get a homebody grandparent out and on the road like the prospect of seeing, or not seeing, the grandchild. That was never an option for us.

Now, though, as the parents have aged, and deceased, and become child-like, I've come to terms with that, and I accept that we make the schlep because life is short, regret is long, and we don't know when we might see them again.

This year, because of a whole concatenation of factors, we opted to stay here in the Big Flat particularly late: Celtic Christmas was late, flights were exorbitantly costly, and, as I've said to several people, "when your only surviving older relative has Alzheimer's, it doesn't really matter whether you get there Christmas, or the day after." So we found ourselves in our own home, possibly for the first time or second time in our married lives, on Christmas Eve.

But we weren't alone: as a result of another concatenation of factors, several young'uns (Taiyo, T-Dawn, and the Dance Captain) found themselves at solitary loose ends also in Big Flat Place, and so for the first time we were able to offer some hospitality--some sense of home--to some younger others. It was a little tiring, as we had just spent 5 days hip-deep in the Desperate Gentlemen who were here for the Celtic Christmas, and then immediately rolled-over into hosting the Xmas orphans.

However, it was also pretty nice, because for the first time, maybe ever, I had something of the experience I surmise parents of grown children have: when the grown-up kiddos come back, and, as Dharmonia said, "you can hand 'em the keys to the house and say, 'feel free to use the books and the laundry, feed the cat, and don't burn the place down' and feel reasonably confident that'll all happen." This morning we're headed on up out of this joint to see my last, aged, infirm, childlike parent, and leaving Taiyo behind to feed His Highness and keep the home fires lit.

But, looking around that room last night where they all sat watching the 24-hour Marathon of "Christmas Story", after Dharmonia's lasagna and a little red wine, at those three young women curled up on the couch under the comforters, and thinking of Shaniqua's sweet and loving note, I thought of Greg Brown's (early) great song off of The Iowa Waltz, and, though childless, it was kinda nice to feel like they coulda been mine, too:
...And in the morning they magic the house,
The one that can walk, walks in warm and still dreamin' to give
me a hug or ask why it's so cold or why is there school,
"Why's it so cold?" or "Why is there school?"
And the one who can't walk or talk yet just lies in bed and laughs,
She just lies in bed and laughs.

I'm a man who's rich in daughters,
And if by some wild chance I get rich in money,
Like say another two thou a year or even one thou a year,
I'm gonna look in to havin' some more daughters.

Merry Christmas.

1 comment:

Sarai said...

They might not be biological, but you and dharmonia have so many sons and daughters- and grandchildren! Thank you for raising me through some of my most formative years and teaching me. Now it's my job to pass those lessons on to ollie :)