My Godfather is going into hospice. He has battled with alcoholism most of his life. Gangrene claimed his right leg above his knee back in 2005, and now it wants his left leg. I spoke to him and told him that I loved him. The conversation was extremely painful. Not because he is dying, because death is part of life. It was sad because of what he has become.
It makes me sad to think of the man he once was. The tragedy is that he is a shell of his former self. My Godfather marched to the beat of his own drum. He never did what anyone ever expected him to do. He was the youngest of three brothers, he grew up in the Bronx where fighting in the streets was how you got respect. He blew off the first three fingers on his right hand shooting off fireworks on the 4th of July as a teen. He was left with stumps.
It didn’t stop him from becoming one of the best auto body men around. He could restore any car. He was highly mechanical, and understood what it took to make something work.
I will never forget riding on the back of his motorcycle in my Easter dress. I was maybe 8 years old and I thought he was the coolest guy on Earth. He was a daredevil. There was absolutely nothing he would not try at least once. He had a fast temper, and we used to just write off his erratic behavior as “passionate” He married several times. He was not someone who would do what you wanted. He did what he wanted when he wanted to. I don’t want you to get the impression that he was a bad guy, he was not. In many ways he was deeply misunderstood. I could not have lived with his gifts. They would have driven me insane.
He was deeply psychic. He read tarot cards and did natal astrological charts. He accurately predicted my father’s open heart surgery on my 12th birthday in 1980. His gifts were heavy to him. He was deeply connected to me, and when I wound up in the hospital with a severe gallbladder attack a year and a half ago, he called. He felt something was wrong with me. Had I been in an accident? He said he felt that I was in a hospital. I was in the hospital. He knew things without me telling him. He always seemed to pick the exact right time to call me.
I prefer to remember him this way. Not what he has become. I prefer to think of him working on a car, a Pall Mall cigarette between his lips, with his eagle tattoo showing. I want to remember him talking about spirituality. I want to remember the good times, and forget the bad.
Memory is a funny thing – sometimes if we are very lucky, we can summon those moments about a loved one that make us smile rather than cry, I sit at my computer, tears shining in my eyes, and one single tear is sliding down my face.
No one knows when we will speak to someone for the last time, so I wanted to call him today to tell him I love him, just in case.
Image by Alicia Jo McMahan. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/ajmac