WAKE ME UP OPENING DAY
I'm not very good with birthdays. I forget how old people are. My sister has turned 50 a half dozen times. It's not unheard of for me to forget that special day of the one's closest to me. Sorry mom. I'm not proud of this. Just the way it is. Death days are even worse. I don't even try to remember those.
A couple of years back I watched my old man die. He'd been on the downward slide for some time. But then that slippery slope turned to grease. We were taking turns on the 24 hour vigil, just to get him up and to the bathroom during the night. He was a big man and as his body gave way it became increasingly difficult for him to do the simplest of things. I remember it was in April.
The Old Man and I had a complex relationship. He was smart, loving, opinionated, honest to a fault and completely boneheaded about many things. We had a few things in common. Although he was a successful business man, he never showed that side to the fam. Once the dark suit and shiny shoed uniform came off he was "ramming around" in duct taped boots and tattered trousers, mowing the lawn or cursing a power tool, planning a hunting or fishing trip. When I opened a gallery we bonded on the business end of things. Since I never sold much, that patch of common ground was rather small. When I started hunting again, he took me turkey hunting. This, above all other things, expanded our common ground to deer and turkey season. We both loved to hunt. Hunting turkeys in Spring drove us both to distraction. During the month of May my father and I talked or hunted together almost every day. He'd call- "What's the report?"
Used to be I'd drop every thing- work, relationships, previous commitments, Mother's Day......just to get up at 4:00 am and chase gobblers through the woods. I'm not so bad anymore, but I still look forward to May 1st. with the giddy excitement usually reserved for a 4 year old on Xmas eve. It's a time when all else falls away. I don't worry about money, career, world peace or the lack thereof. My only concern is the weather and finding birds. Let everyone and everything go to Hell. I'm going hunting. So it was when the Old Man was at death's door, barely able to breath, let alone form sentences, that he moaned, gasping for air, unable to lift his head and summed up the miserable pain he was in. His only escape was sleep. We all moved in to catch his words, as he grimaced with a slight smile and closed his eyes. "Wake me up opening day." He died in April. Tomorrow is opening day. I sure do miss him.