A Serious Jones for Ice Cream
The Alex and Ronni Show 7 April 2020

A TGB READER STORY: The Morning Has Past

By Nancy Rubuliak

A number and a name were written on the backside of a receipt for lumber bought over 30 years ago to build the deck at the rear of my house. Seeing the writing in his hand, I felt a stab and realized I had little in my possession written by him.

Words left as evidence that he once was, once had existed. Words given time. It was 12 years since I had returned from the last trip to Paris. Two weeks after my return my father would die in a hospital bed with my mother sleeping beside him on a cot.

I remember the phone ringing that morning early and going there before dawn. I had long since laid to rest the notion that the man from Paris would bring true love but at that time I had not yet come to that fact.

My father’s death created an empty space which now remained as the permanent artifact of loss. The sensation of vacancy in a place where once was felt warmth, security and unconditional acceptance. He had helped build the deck that still stood, although some parts were now in need of repair.

He had departed slowly, over time, incrementally like eroding rock outcrops. Weather and time slowly chiseling away at the weakest points. At first one does not notice such an invisible assault but over time forces play like in the great canyons of the Southwest to etch away massive stretches of land leaving open space.

I kept thinking about this landscape since my return. How the past was layered, dense and buried or pouring out, dissipated, transformed and dispersed. Some of it scattered to the four directions, some flowing away with torrential rains or running out like from a broken hourglass spilling from great standing stones and spires.

He eroded over time until he was uncertain of where he was and what had been his life. I was never forgotten but in the last months he lived in a dream state, an endless stream of scenarios rose to plague him, onerous tasks to be done with too few hands, calamities great and small besetting him alone, always the perpetual themes of trouble and responsibility.

His handwriting was unmistakable. Even now the memory of seeing it makes me sad. How much more I would have asked him, wanted to do with him. It had never been easy. My mother had claimed him and only when he was dying and she was exhausted was there space for me.

There had been times, too, I had also been mortified by him like in my teens seeing him in the shopping mall in his rubber boots looking like the farmer he was. His honesty had been an embarrassment to me. I had been ashamed of him. All this now under layers of living, sedimentary, compacted with time and passing years.

What becomes of us? Do we, too, scatter into the four directions? Flow away to join the great oceans?

The sun was low and I noticed the shadows falling through the day on the west and later the east walls of the living room. Shadows that only came at this time of the year, forgotten once the sun turned around and began to grow again. Turning, churning, time was always rearranging the world around us, and in the end we too would reenter those same sands.

I wondered if that was why the dawn and the setting sun so moved us? Perhaps at these times we see transmuted what is both incomprehensible and unrefutable. I am remembering the sun setting at Church Wells and the light the next morning at Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and the two of us.

[Note: Written after travel with Susan to the Colorado Plateau Sept 2018.]

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]

Comments

Panta rhei. This piece caused me to think. Thank you.
Happy Birthday, Ronni! Good to have you with us.

So beautifully written and so very true! Thank you, Nancy.

So well written. To find the beauty in a mental slipping away takes great depth of heart and soul. Thank you.

Thank you. It was beautiful.

So evocative and honest and true.

Thank you!

Happy 79th birthday Ronni!

You're amazing.

What Katie said! You ARE amazing. You are awesome. Grateful for your presence here on Planet Earth! Happy BIRTHDAY, RONNI!

Nancy... so beautifully written! Even the well-chosen title. Thank you!

Nancy - at this time of our Pandemic, I repost your lines:What becomes of us? "Do we, too, scatter into the four directions? Flow away to join the great oceans?" Perhaps all should pause, reflect, enjoy memories, and come out at the end of our "collective isolation" more tolerant and kinder, ready to recognize what we have, where we are, and - who we love. Thanks for your insightful piece.

Nancy,

I found myself in your story
but for my father's memorial and sea scattering postponed by COVID-19.

Still, I gratefully inhale your tender expression of loss
as I soar across the landscape of grief.

Today, the Past has found its Morning
as I glide toward a horizon glimmering with fullness and peace.

Thank you for providing a timely and generous comfort.

Beautiful story, thanks.

Wonderful writing

All the readers' stories you feature are of such a high quality and so lovely - could a selection of them be made into a book as a charity fundraiser? (My apologies if this has been suggested a thousand times before and dismissed as unworkable or whatever.)

Your writing touched me deeply. Thank you.

I long to read books that are written this well. The prose draws you right in and immediately makes the brain reflect and remember. A true gift.

Nancy: what beautiful, evocative, and deeply moving writing. Very lately I have found myself glad that my mother died in mid Fall with her hand in mine. We, family and friends, were able to have a beautiful funeral and a sustaining meal afterwards. While I felt privileged to be with my mother at her death, I did not know, then, that a matter of months would make that a privilege denied to thousands. "...Time is the fire in which we burn..."

What a beautiful text! At least you have beautiful memories of a loved father.
My mother has been fighting death for many years, a bitter, enraged woman, sitting in bed or in a chair, refusing to budge or even walk, refusing to cooperate in her daily cares, berating everybody except herself, in general making life unbearable for daughters and sons.
What kind of memories will she leave?

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