Trying to proceed with life after losing my Nancy has been like climbing out of a steep wet muddy hole wearing slippery shoes. What did I ever do to the universe to have to sing these blues?
But, as I’ve always done to keep from going insane, I’ve been writing to ease my pain. Not long ago I took part in an exercise at a writers workshop wherein we put down our thoughts about: “Things That Make Life Worth Living.”
My mind sought out the past and, of all the things behind me, my thinking cap immediately came up with the Lone Ranger asking Tonto “What should we do?” as they were surrounded by an army of red men, to which Tonto says: “What we, white man.” Well jokes are a joy and make life worth living.
Then Miles Davis, the “Prince of Darkness,” appears dressed to kill in a red silk shirt that gives off a dull yet rich glow and black trousers with the creases just right, shoes fitting right in, and he puts his horn to his lips and sweet and sour soulful notes burst softly and purely into the air, dripping funk and soul everywhere, emitting mild spine tingling sensations that lift and soothe one’s spirit. Miles, Miles, Miles. Life sure was worth living when that fellow got through making your world feel mellow.
And who comes along next in my memory? Oscar Robertson, the Big O, bringing the ball up the floor, looking one way, shoveling a pass the other way, and I’m scoring an easy basket with no idea how the ball made it to my hands. Life was looking pretty doggone good in that moment in time.
And in no time we were off to another writing exercise. Afterwards, however, when I got home, I continued with the theme of life affirming things, struggling to shed my down in the dump frame of mind. But, sure enough, almost as soon as I sat at my iMac to add to what I had written earlier about yummy butterscotch milkshakes at the DQ, circa 1952, my grief came crashing through as I had, in my mind, in that moment, for who knows why, subtracted five years from 1952, leading me to 1947, the year Nancy was born. And then I was rhyming born with forlorn and torn and mourn, so helplessly caught up in a heavy dark emotional storm.
But after a few shudders and tears I got back to writing, determined to stay focused, bent on exploring more of what rocks my boat in life, and also making a concentrated effort not to venture back in time.
I asked myself isn’t there something now that makes my life worth living and I had to admit that there are so many things that make my being shine: having lunch and laughing every month or so with some old fellow retired African American principal colleagues of mine who, like me, are so happy that we’ve served our time; enjoying good books and movies and plays; working with children in creative ways; sunsets at Sunset Cliff; walks along the mighty Pacific, listening to the sometimes pounding, sometimes gentle waves, at the Cove, the shores, OB, PB, MB, IB…
Then our kids came to mind, Nancy’s and mine. I thought about how my malaprops (I guess that’s what they are) make them laugh all the time like on 9-11 when I was ranting and raving about Osama lin Baden. And like recently when I was saying “I don’t think Rosie McConnell would have worked out on the Price is Right.” They got a good chuckle but they agreed that as the host she would have been cast way against type. When I hang out with them everything seems right.
Watching them play coed softball on Sundays is one of my life’s delights. I will forever remember Carlos, playing shortstop, one Sunday, backhanding a sharply hit ball and making a perfect throw to Nyla at first and she fires to Tawny at home. Double play. McCray to McCray to McCray. Now that made my day.
For my children and me I make a toast to our beloved. To her I say: Sweet precious woman of mine, you made life worth living for us for a long long time. Out of our love for you, and in your memory and honor, baby, we’ll make it worth living again and I don’t mean maybe. Cheers, my dear!