Saturday, October 23, 2010

An Introspective Day

Bulbs and corms. A few months ago at the Drake Park farmer's market I spied a little table set up by the Central Oregon Master Gardener Association (COMGA). They were handing out order forms for flower bulbs suitable for Central Oregon. Knowing that Mrs Elliott has a fondness for flowers of all sorts, and especially longs for flora at the end of winter, I took that form home and studied it and ordered more bulbs than I can reasonably afford. Some deer-resistant, making them suitable for our front yard, and others to plant in our fenced back yard.

COMGA had the bulbs ready for pickup this morning at the Environmental Center on 16 NW Kansas. I was handed a big bulging shopping bag of bulbs.

I know nothing about planting bulbs, corms, rizomes, or tubers. But COMGA's Nancy Glick gave a great presentation on garden planning and how to properly plant the little guys. I learned that within each bulb is a tiny flower, a stem, and itteh bitteh leaves, all ready to go.

I watched as much of the presentation as I could until a gastric distress, brought on by way too much yerba maté (courtesy of Santiago, the proprietor of downtown's Top Leaf Maté shop who generously gifted me, over my protestations, an enormous cup of maté), caused such an internal commotion that I had no choice but to bail out before Nancy finished and head home as quickly as possible for some serious treatment in the form of Immodium.

I could not have stayed much longer anyway, because the memorial for my employee, Bob Hunt, was at noon at the Black Horse Saloon. Bob, as some will recall, was my technician of more than two years. He was killed earlier this month when he and his daughter, Chelsea, were struck while crossing the Bend parkway at the insanely stupid crosswalk across the parkway that ODOT thought was an acceptably swell idea.

There were at least 50 people at the memorial. Bob was a Christian and used to attend Sunday morning services at the saloon given by preacher Bob (another Bob). Bob Hunt greatly respected preacher Bob. Preacher Bob, white shoulder-length hair and beard, clad in black leathers, who also works as the bouncer, described Bob Hunt as a straightforward man whose faith was honest and trusting.

Many of Bob's family and friends were moved to speak, as was I. His older daughter Serena and her best friend sang Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," a song Bob often listened to in the shop while working. Against a backdrop of slides and videos from Bob's youth and adulthood, a fiddle player played a tune that Bob enjoyed playing on his fiddle during service. There was emotion, there was crying. Leaning against the stage was a rough hand-shaped wooden grave marker in the form of a Celtic cross with Bob's name, his date of birth, and date of death carved into it.

I'm feeling emotional right now, writing about this.

My son, Jim, accompanied me to the memorial. He hadn't expected to do so, but came over just before I left the house and I invited him. He was riding an old Honda motorcycle he bought for a song. From the '70s, something like 150 cc -- not a hog.

On the way to the memorial he told me that he had just taken the motorcycle training course at COCC so he could get his endorsement.

Now, when Jim was a kid, he never gave school any mind. Even with all the assistance that the California school system could offer in the form of an Individual Education Program and "helicopter" parents, he barely managed to graduate from high school.

Kind of like his old man.

But the motorcycle course was unique: unlike the pre-processed and dehydrated crap that the school tried to teach him, knowing how to safely ride a motorcycle was something he was genuinely interested in. So for the first time in his 22 years, he participated in class and listened to the course information, studied the material, and took his tests - convinced that he was going to fail, like he had so many times in the past.

In the riding part of the test, students who lost more than 21 points could not pass. He lost three. In the written part of the test, he got a 93.

He is proud of his success. And I'm proud of him. He's not a dumb kid, his school grades were not a reflection of his intelligence, just a reflection of his interest level. Take this success, I told him, as a sign that you can succeed in the classroom if ever you find something you consider important.

In other words, you could go back to school and do very well -- if you really want to.

The motivation has to come from him. Endogenously, not exogenously. He has never been a boy that cared about what others expected, nor one to take much in the way of advice. Jim, out of a strong sense of what seems to be the right way, always does it his own way.

While driving home after the memorial, I thanked him for accompanying me.

"I'm glad I went," he said. "I didn't know so many people knew Bob."

This is a small community, I said. People get to know you. And the longer you stay in a small community, the more likely it is that you will attend memorials for people you know. Someday, you'll attend one for me.

"Aw, Dad, I don't want to think about that."

"Better that way than the opposite. A parent should not outlive his children."

I considered the truth of that while watching him put on his helmet, safety glasses and gloves, and start his motorcycle.

At some point, all a parent can do is watch, and hope.

The lovely and caring Mrs Elliott will be returning tomorrow evening. I miss her.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post. I don't know what to write else - so just a Thank you will have to do.


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