Veteran.

I remember screaming loudly in angry disbelief from the swing on the playground,

“Hey! That’s our lunch!”

I also recall nearly twisting myself from the swing in mid-air as I turned in childlike desperation to find my Papa (my Dad’s Dad) behind me, not seeming to give two shits that a bum was stealing the picnic lunch that took the entire morning for me to assemble to perfection.

“Papa…that man is taking our lunch from the table! Look, Papa, Look!”

My grandfather continued to push me higher on the swing, in spite of my exclamations; he never even looked over in the direction of the table (or our lunch) that I noticed, he just kept pushing as I sailed forward and up again on the swing. He had this way about him, though; an almost unsettling calmness woven tightly into his characteristic traits. Nothing seemed to ever really upset him; he was always chillax in comparison to anybody else I’ve ever known, to date; and, during childhood his patience often left me baffled beyond my inexperienced and young mind’s reconciliation.
It didn’t take long for me, being the tiny spitfire that I was, to eject myself from the swing on the up-swing (a stunt that my Papa disliked with absolution) and land approximately ten feet away in the redwood tanbark. I remember that I felt shocked that our lunch was being stolen and he planned to do nothing about it; it was in violation of my strict pre-school schedule.

“If you aren’t gonna stop him, I will!”

I “huffed and puffed” while I brushed myself off and began to head in the direction of the man’s quickly fading figure amidst the trees across the field of the park. Looking back, it always makes me smile to think about my Papa during my youngest days alive; he was such a wise and magical soul in every way. He never used to stop us from fucking up; on the contrary, he always allowed us to learn things the hard way, and for ourselves.
But on this day, he didn’t let me chase down the lunch-thief however; he stopped me in my tracks by simply observing out loud,

“Don’t you kinda feel like if that man stole our picnic like that, that he probably needs it more than we do?”

I recall this question literally making me feel weak for a second’s time; I stood still there in the sunny field alongside of my Papa’s short framed shadow and I swallowed what he said…I was instantly ashamed of myself for starting to chase after him; for reacting like I had…this moment changed me forever. My papa spent the rest of that afternoon explaining to me how this man had come to be homeless and dirty, angry and unstable:

He had been in the Vietnam War with my Dad and uncles; he had some bad times while he was there, and hadn’t found life any easier when he got back, afterward…

I never let go of what his patience meant to teach me that day about that man stealing our lunch; it created a soft-spot in my heart for Combat Veterans who have all but blinked out completely against a cruel and misunderstanding society they once called “home”. If there was one thing that my Papa drove deep into my being when I was young, it was HUMANITY in its rawest forms. I am ever-grateful to have had him, and still miss him to no end all the time, every day.

Listened VS Heard.

Me and Papa Joe Circa 1998

Me and Papa Joe
Circa 1998

My Papa Joe, as I have conveyed in previous posts, was a very exceptionally wise and wondrous human being; I still feel extremely blessed to have been born into his family, and have always considered the fact that I was to be a gift from the Gods. I say these things for a few reasons:

1) Had Papa Joe been absent from the scene of childhood days, the ever-heeded voice of reason would have been missing, as well;
2) Papa Joe was my lifetime’s most consistent and long-standing teacher and leader, even out-lasting my own father in Life to continue to impart his things on my being;
3) My grandfather was so much more than just the stiff-lipped, strange smelling, old dude that you had to visit begrudgingly as a child – he and I were friends – always, since my earliest memories of his presence, were we close because he not only heard me when I spoke: he listened.

Papa Joe introduced poetry to me as a very little kid; he used to read to me daily no matter what; he encouraged me to create my own stories and song lyrics – and would patiently and attentively listen to my finished products, without fail. He is embedded into the core of my first recollections and remains throughout my entire life through the age of twenty-one. When I say that I hung out with him regularly until the day he died, I am not exaggerating at all: he was literally one of my very favorite people to spend my time with; he never got old or boring. Papa Joe hardly ever told the same story twice unless he was asked to, he was very intelligent as well as deeply spiritual and magickal. He was a WWII pilot and POW, he was the father of four sons and the loving husband to a superbly insane, sawed-off and dangerous Norwegian Sami (my paternal grandma, Lisbett) for half a century. He was a Rosicrucian, a Mason, and a self-taught Egyptologist. He was an avid reader and wrote as well; he was a die-hard lover of ancient lore and craft.
One of his favorite books to reads to me was Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, a solid bond between he and I that led to the collectively used nickname he went by of “CHIANG”. I would go to him with a “secret loose tooth” that I hadn’t told any of my older set of brothers about because they were brutal string-to-door-knobbers; he would reach in my mouth and wiggle it gently and grunt and huff and puff under his breath with a vanilla pipe ember-red stuffed in his teeth, eventually declaring quietly that it wasn’t quite time yet to try to pull the loose tooth.
“Come up on my lap and let’s read some Richard Bach, instead of me pulling your tooth, eh?”
His eyes would wrinkle with the tops of his cheeks when he smiles, and he smiled at me often, I recall. It was always at least ten minutes before I would taste the blood or try and wiggle my loose tooth with my tongue only to find a tender hole where it had been when I showed him. I fell for this over and over – likely every tooth that I lost as a child was taken safely from my mouth in this exact fashion – by my Papa Joe. He was something else.

VETERAN’S DAY REPOST: The Wise of The Skies

My Papa (age 20). Already a pilot headed to War...

My Papa (age 20). Already a pilot headed to War…

 

It seems as though my very genetic sequencing was created on a battlefield somewhere back in time.
On the one hand (my father’s side, and the side of the family in which I was exposed to daily), my Old School Yankee blood hammers a foothold of ingenuity and aggression embedded in my very DNA. My Danish Emigrant family is littered with highly decorated American War Heroes in each and every generation that I know of, including my daughter’s generation. This side of my heritage historically and willingly puts up a well-organized and strategic fight for the glories it claims, no doubt. This side of my family tree is dwarfed in numbers by my mother’s side; and unfortunately, I believe that is because I have lost too many relatives, both distant and close, to warfare.
My Papa (my Dad’s father, who was my Partner in Crime until the day he died about a decade ago) doubled as my daycare provider since I can remember. This was a guy who was, indeed, a War Hero of at least two major wars in world history, a pilot (and it takes a certain kind for this), a Rosicrucian, a Mason, a self-taught Ancient Egyptologist (because he was compelled to explore alchemy, physics, astronomy, astrology, medicinal tincturing and ancient mysticism since his youth), but most notably and memorably for me: he was a magically wise soul. He was a genuine human being. He was one of my favorite people to hang out with for the entirety of my young life, even when I was a shithead teenager with a pierced face and old English block lettering Tattoos that said distasteful things – he never got boring or became too demanding of my time; my time was something that I always had more than enough for him.
I can write this, because he is dead and I am grown now;
During my teen years, he once rendezvoused with me at my car on the side of a dirt road during the wee hours of the morning (during a period in my life when I was swirling around life’s drain amidst teen angst, the shock and trauma of my Dad’s very sudden death, and in turn – the absolute demolition of my family unit as I had always before, and never again – known it; and was out of control in behavior and illegal activities) to offload armfuls of (totally illegal and extremely questionable in his perception) firearms with a stiff lip and stoic expression on his face the entire time. He drove away with at least ten felonies in his hatchback Celica without saying a fucking word to me about it.
I could never tell anyone about it growing up – couldn’t brag about it to my friends or brothers – because the fact that he never said anything taught me the lesson I’m sure he was shooting for: shame in grace, wrong against right, and dedication to those we love. I held it in for about five years before finally breaking one day over a Scrabble match and blurting out something like, “Papa, you know I’d NEVER ask you to do anything bad for me again EVER, right?…”
My Papa and I have the exact, same mischievously set eyes; upon meeting his gaze, I was always instantly triggered to smile, laugh, or giggle. This time though, when his eyes met mine, they spoke volumes of the disapproval and disappointment that he had been holding in all that time. Also quite noticeably though, was a weight that seemed to lift from his frame almost tangibly…and it came straight into my heart and has been with me ever since that moment.

For Veteran’s Day, I bow my head to any and all who have served my country in my place for whatever reasons.

This gratefulness that I feel runs deeply through the tangling roots of dead soldiers grown from my own family tree, and any other tree on Yankee/ Native soil. It most certainly takes someone with heart to be a soldier; thank you to all of the Veterans out there who may happen to read this post. Seriously…THANK YOU.