Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Heaven Can Be Yours Just for Now -- or -- So How Far Back Does This Go? (Part 8)

All the lovely ladies in their finery tonight,
I wish that I could know them one by one.
All the handsome gentlemen with loving on their minds,
Strolling in to take the ladies home.
Gordon Lightfoot.  An old song playing in my head on a frosty autumn morning.  Down the hill, up the next on two wheels, spinning the cranks 15 miles from home to work.  All is normal, all is OK in the final decade of the 20th century.

And it almost was.  I had been given a choice of diagnoses in 1990, and I chose the one that would preserve a marriage.  Anti-depressants for a year, out of management and back to technical work, attitude determination for Hubble again.  The recipe was good, and it almost worked.  It was the most normal decade of my marriage.  The secret was out, 36 years of pressure had been released, the white noise of my life had receded.  Could it all have been a delusion?
Bless you all and keep you on the road to tenderness,
Heaven can be yours just for now.
A Saturday morning in 1991, my son in the carrier seat on the back of my bicycle.  We're off, just the two of us, to Sligo Creek Park to play by the creek and on the swings.  Another weekend it's the Renaissance Festival.  Then it's the B&O train museum.  It's the age of pumpkin patches, nursery school, and childhood wonder seen again through the eyes of a parent.
All the gentle strangers who by nature do not smile,
To everyone who cannot hold a pen,
To all you heavy rounders with a headache for your pains,
Who dread the thought of going 'round the bend.
1992.  "Dad, let's go basement and cut pipe."  Our basement becomes my son's weekend playground as I rip out the old plumbing and heating system in our Takoma Park bungalow.  He plays with pipe fittings as I cut old steel pipes out of the ceiling and sweat new copper into place.  The solder sizzles and burns my fingers.  Must finish before the first frost.
Bless you all and keep you on the road to better things,
Heaven can be yours just for now.
1994.  Monthly IRCHAD meetings at the Naval Observatory for donuts and an international seminar on "Astronomy and the State, U.S. and Russian Perspectives."  Then it's off on a camping and driving trip in an ancient Cadillac through upstate New York, Canada, and New England.  It's just my spouse, my son, and me, a mutual friend joining us mid-way.  I see Maine for the first time and fall in love with a state.
To all the lovely ladies in their finery tonight,
I wish that I could kiss you while you knit.
To all the ones who learn to live with bein' second-guessed,
Whose job it is to give more then to get.
Mid '90s.  Pointing control lead for Hubble's Mission Scheduling System.  Spline algorithms.  We throw out everything to do with the High Gain Antennas and start all over again.  It's the best technical work I'll ever do.  I receive a Space Flight Awareness award, and my spouse, son, and I go off to Kennedy Space Center to see a night launch, stopping at Disney World on the way.
Bless you all and keep you with the strength to understand,
Heaven can be yours just for now.
Cub Scout Pack 432.  Pack chairman, newsletter and web-site author and editor, tireless promoter.    Webelos Weekend and Pinewood Derby.  Then it's Troop 432.  Monthly camping trips, weekend hikes, car washes, summer camp, and bicycle merit badge counselor.  Take the tandem so the young ones can finish in the back stoker seat if they tire.  Swim meets, school events, help with homework, weekend events at the Brazilian-American Cultural Center.  Best of all, it's bed-time stories.  Nursery rhymes give way to  Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Master and Margarita. 
To all the little dreamers with a dream that cannot last,
To all the sleeping giants who must wake.
To every man who answers to the letter of the law,
And all the rest imprisoned by mistake.
College Park Bicyclist Coalition.  Become an advocate for bicyclist rights on U.S. Route 29.  We win. 

Two aunts and a sister-in-law, marooned with us because of illness.  Hopeless, awful, bizarre, and wonderful all together.  TV Globo and Brazilian soaps.  Little English to be heard.
Bless you all and keep you with the faith to let it pass,
Heaven can be yours just for now.
Summer vacations in Ocean City.  Long walks on the beach, jumping through waves.  Throwing away money on the boardwalk just for fun.  Sand sculptures, Thrashers french fries, chocolate malts at Dumpsers.  Summer novels.  The sound of the surf that lulls us to sleep.
To all the lonely sailors who have trouble beeing seen,
To all of you with heartache that remains.
Maybe sometime later you might swim back into shore,
If someone could relieve you of your chains.
1998.  An unexpected phone call at work.  "Dad has had a stroke, meet us at the hospital."  The father with whom I could never speak has softened since my collapse in 1990.  I can still see him scooping up ice cream for my son, his grandson, his funny bowler hat on his head.  I miss you Dad.  There is so much I still want to tell you.  He leaves us three days later.

Gordon Lightfoot.  An old song playing in my head on a dark, cold winter evening.  Down the hill, up the next on two wheels, spinning the cranks 15 miles from work to home.  All is normal, all is OK in the final decade of the 20th century.
Bless you all and keep you all on the land or on the sea,
Heaven can be yours, just for now.

* * * * * * * * * *


Gordon Lightfoot from the Cold on the Shoulder album still echoes through my head on cool autumn evening bicycle rides, be it in Washington or in Maine or in Bucharest. . . . 





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