The Wolf’s Tooth Chapter Nine

Did Nana softly sigh as we slipped out of sight?

Did she picture us walking down Orange Street? Or were we just “gone” again.

Did she think about what we would be doing later?

Did she replay the visit play by play in her mind?

Did she ever wonder when she would be “gone”?

I could not stop the army of thoughts marching in succession as they flooded my fatigued brain. I quickly waved again, and cheerfully urged the boys to do likewise. They did so reluctantly.

Bob laughed and loudly exclaimed, “This is so stupid. She watches us like this every single time.”

A reprimand nearly crossed my lips, but I smiled and let it go.

This was not a lesson that I could pass along to him with stern words, no, this lesson you had to learn the hard way, by living long enough to experience the passing of a lot of time and the passing of loved ones.

The boys were young. The day would come when he would understand just what Nana was doing up there in the window, and even more important, “why” she was doing it.

The secret of long last looks often escaped the very young.

Yes, someday he would know, my kids would know too.

Because someday, Nana would not be waving goodbye in the window, Nana would be gone, Forever…

Chapter Nine

A WEEKEND WITH MOM AND DAD

As we slowly walked down Orange Street I wondered to myself just what Grampie Butch would have said had he lived long enough to see that I had married a “second” German woman. He eventually grew to like Anneliese; my first German wife, but his proud Polish roots were quite evident in their first meeting in the seventies. It was awkward.

It’s quite understandable that Germans are not exactly a loved race in Poland.

I wasn’t even sure Nana had registered just exactly who Helga was. Yet I wasn’t the only grandchild who had cruised from one mate to the next, so perhaps it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Helga was indeed very German. I know that I can’t toss together a whole group of people in one sack because of their race, but after all these years of living with various spoiled German people, I think I can finally say this, Germans can be a bit different. That’s a good thing.

We later found that chic “Flag & Banner” store Helga had heard about. Dad had given me detailed instructions on how to find it, and Mom had then wished me luck with a funny smirk on her face. (I understood the reason for the smile later on as the young clerk happily tallied up the pile of flags.)

Then they rushed out the door to go see Nana. Their current schedule was nothing short of amazing. This was “retirement”? But we planned on getting together soon.

Helga bought three hundred dollars worth of flags. Naturally she charged it on my Master Card. I was not impressed.

She was so happy she was actually talking about making amends, and proposed to physically placate my nerves when we got back to the now empty house on Milk Street. (I was pathetically easy to appease.) I was impressed; usually the only time she ever really got horny was when the vet came with his stud to impregnate her horse Elvis.

I didn’t quite get what the big deal was with the flags though. Helga had been inspired by the many flags we had seen flying in the suburbs here in America. They were literally everywhere.

Alone during that fatigued ride from Boston’s Logan Airport to Hampton Beach we had seen faded abandoned Halloween, Easter and Christmas motives, and weird things like laughing cats, and flying rainbow colored birds, and, of course, various “greeting card” messages like; “WELCOME”, and “LOVE RULES”.

And let us not forget the pompous patriotic fever that was once again burning like crazy in this country, “America First” and the original “Old Glory” flags were flying everywhere too. (When I was growing up in the Sixties, it was Old Glory herself being burned everywhere.) Naturally, Helga wanted them all.

Coming from a relatively well to do family, (Shortly after their appearance in the West, they inherited a small fortune.) Helga was not used to waiting when she got it in her head to buy something. Thus, she was usually in debt, and never seemed to care, perhaps because she knew someday down the road she would inherit a decent amount of money and property.

She never worried about tomorrow, and in retrospect it was my good fortune that she felt this way, or I never would have landed in America to celebrate my fortieth birthday.

However, looking back, fate had decided for me that I would take austerity. Spiritually, I now agreed. The purpose is clear; freedom. What more can I say? Possessions do indeed weigh you down. It’s never enough; bigger and better is always looming enticingly over your head.

A lot of people loved to shop. Consumer madness is addictive, and comparable to sex without an orgasm.

And as the late great Henry Miller said, let us not get into the degrading concessions you have to make to acquire these possessions.

Simplicity is flexible. I have found it endures well. I always rediscovered this fact after every divorce when I found myself sitting in empty rooms, no longer full of possessions. Without so many things hanging around, I had more time. This time was then used for the two things that seem to matter most to me. Spending time with loved ones and participating in the hardest activity of all, “reflection”.

For example, thinking about Helga’s impeccably clean Mom and Dad and their spotless, scrubbed plants was very difficult for me, as this always left a bitter taste in my mouth. And thinking about my Mom and Dad was also difficult, as I had spent my adult life over seas, and thus, I barely knew them.

Using my life as subject matter in reflection formed ideas and purpose. These opinions formed were not set in stone, by any means. Growing up in the south end had also taught me something I never stopped utilizing in life. Flexibility. Flexibility is simplicity.

I know, speaking in tongues is not always the most efficient way of expressing yourself.

Okay, perhaps I was also slightly influenced by too many hours of watching the late great David Carradine in his ground breaking show “Kung Fu” back in Milk Street in the Seventies, shortly before I set off on my own, sadly wandering the German Black Forest with an semi-automatic machine gun (M16) hung on my shoulder, peacefully searching for my Dao (Tao)- my path in life. But hey, what if Master Po & Grasshopper were right?

Theoretically I feel they were, but I also know Caine was similar to Blaine in other ways, possessing esoteric personality quirks and inclined to love unconditionally and infinitely question the chosen paths followed. And still, just like me, he fucked up on a regular basis. I just can’t kick any ass.

Caine constantly recalled his past in forms of vivid flashbacks, using his experiences as lessons for the present. At one point the goal of getting back home was finally seen for what it really was, unattainable, and theory became knowledge; thus the journey itself was all there was.

My journey was in end effect, my life. It wasn’t a metaphor anymore. I will always be going home.

I guess life is a comedy for those who think, but a tragedy for those who feel.

Which finally leads me away from Kung Fu, Germany, scrubbed plants, substantiated surrealism, austerity, and back to Mom and Dad and Nana and the rest of the story.

I told Helga about life on Milk Street during the ride back from the banner shop. As kids, we were indeed in many ways, poor. Our Milk Street temple was not stuffed full of expensive things. (Thus the front door was never locked when no one was at home. Other than the TV, there was nothing to steal.) But when my mother joined the working forces, things improved financially, but this also meant that we kids were on our own.

Modern day “Key Kids”, no one was home to open the door when we returned from our adventures at school. No one forced us to do our homework before we went out to play. No one had a snack waiting for us; we ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or frozen doughnuts. We did what we pleased.

Well, four out of five of us were free as a bird.

My older sister Lara drew the unseen broken stick. Poor Lara involuntarily took over the household, cooked and cleaned and spent hours at the local Laundry Mat with huge green Glad bags filled with our filthy clothes.

And Lara never completely recovered. Playing house was a fun game as a kid, but all games lose their enchantment once they become mandatory..

Meanwhile, we ran wild. I too grew up in a house where the damn television was always on. If you were the first one home, you automatically switched it on before you even took off your coat. Like most of the homes I frequented, the boob tube was centrally located in the living room, like the entity it had become.

It was at times, the modern campfire we huddled around at night. But none of us told stories, we sat silently together and “watched” them, roasting our brains instead of toasting gooey marshmallows.

My family was close knit, beginning with day-to-day life with my brothers and sisters and extending into constant contact with Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles and Cousins. I spent a lot of time with all of these people growing up.

It’s the only thing that I was not able to pass onto my children living in Germany. I really regretted this, because after my divorce, I couldn’t offer them anything in the way of family, certainly not in the traditional sense.

Helga loved hearing about Nana’s daughter Barbara. She was one of our favorite Aunts growing up. The late great Aunt Barbara was a great lady, animated and bold, she was a joy to be around as a kid. For example my father’s flamboyant sister would often passionately wrestle my older brother to the ground, not an easy thing to do, and tickle him until he screamed for mercy. That was a sight to see.

She was the Aunt that actually swore like a trooper, and did so with relish, much to my poor Catholic mother’s chagrin. She drank beer, smoked and told adult jokes. Barbara was the Aunt who basically didn’t give a shit what other people thought about her. So naturally, I loved her.

Barbara and her husband lived in the heart of the country, after spending years in a trailer in the woods in New Hampshire somewhere out in the boonies.

My cousin, Paige Farmer wrote a book about her, “Nan’s Story” (Kindle version available) offering a brilliant theory about one of the many mysteries concerning Aunt Barbara’s life. It’s a great read.

https://www.amazon.com/Nans-Story-Paige-Farmer-ebook/dp/B008CHLKCK

Newburyport was not a big city, but it sure felt like one after visiting Aunt Barbara’s various country homes. Sadly, she had died a few years ago. I didn’t attend the funeral.

Which leads us to her only daughter.

Aunt Barbara only had one child. My older cousin Sherri was always a personal favorite of mine growing up, although she never knew this. I had a schoolboy crush on her. But, I lusted silently.

She was as carefree and outgoing and outspoken as her mother. Yet she was probably even smarter and without a doubt better educated.

With her dark hair and laughing eyes, she was a natural beauty. When her womanly features began showing, my older brother and I observed with wide eyes.

I literally watched her growing up, and since she was a few years ahead of me, it was pretty neat gazing down the road to the teeny years that were rapidly coming up.

Her forty-five collection was nearly as cool as my older brothers record collection was. I fondly remember walking into Aunt Barbara’s house and hearing Elvis and loud rock and roll music in the air, coming from Sherri’s room.

Of course, I also remember seeing Sherri lying on the couch wrapped up with her boyfriend Ralph, making out like there was no tomorrow. My parents were embarrassed, we kids just stood next to the couch and watched with our mouths open, totally fascinated by the passionate, animalistic display. Eventually we were pushed away.

It was the real thing too; Sherri and Ralph have been married ever since. Even as an adult, she never lost her edge. Sherri grew from an amazing teenager into a wonderful woman.

When she returned to college at the age of forty after all her kids were grown, I applauded her courage and wisdom from afar. She accomplished all of her scholarly goals too.

Sherri was also a huge Nana fan. As a little girl she always told our grandmother someday they were going to live together. She would say “Nana, when I get big, you are going to come live with me and I will take care of you.” Everyone thought it was pretty cute.

The interesting thing is, when her and Ralph finally built their dream house, (After being married for twenty odd years.) a room was indeed set aside for Nana. It was quaintly furnished, and very cozy.

So far, Nana had politely denied all her invitations to actually move in. She loved her freedom. And, Sherri lived in New Hampshire. Newburyport was still Nana’s home.

And still, Sherri never stopped asking Nana when she was moving in, something she had repeatedly asked our grandmother again and again for over forty years in a row. I thought that fact was incredible.

Sherri was coming down from New Hampshire, where most of my family had migrated over the years to avoid the outrageous Massachusetts taxes, to take Nana for the weekend.

Despite the incident with Nana and the fateful fall, Sherri was still optimistic. She believed in Nana. All of us believed.

Including my parents. Despite the fact that my mother was retired, and my father had temporarily interrupted his retirement to help ease his monthly medication bill, my parents had a pretty busy schedule. Between raising their grandchild Mike and caring for Nana, precious little time was left over for them. (My mother jokingly referred to her “Golden Years” as the “Tarnished Years”.)

They both were at Nana’s place daily, at various times throughout the day. This meant I didn’t see them too much my first few days back at Milk Street. But with Sherri taking Nana for the weekend, they were now freed, and able to spend some time with us.

And this they did, much to my delight. I had spent very little time with my parents as an adult, and every form of contact was appreciated immensely. After all, I owed my very existence to them, and regretted never really getting to know them as people. This hunger grew thanks to all those years spent over yonder.

Who would have thought that hot summer day in June that when I got on the Army bus in Boston (a mere two weeks after High School graduation), that I would never return again?

Was it my father’s favorite saying again, (Be careful what you wish for, you just might receive it.) coming back to haunt me?

I had actually moved out of my parents house once before while still attending High School. I had a job at Fowels after school, plus my Sunday paper route. I found a cheap furnished apartment; (this was before Urban Renewal), and got Mom and Dad’s permission to move in.

I just wanted to be alone. On my own. I wanted to be free. It was a great experience. Yet I returned home after just two months, not because I couldn’t handle paying the bills, or because I was homesick, no, the reason was quite simple.

My girlfriend’s mother found out about my place, and forbid her to see me there. What was the point of having your own place if your girlfriend couldn’t come over and share it with you?

But less than a year later I was gone again, six thousand miles away, alone, on my own. I was free all right, but it wasn’t nearly as stupendous as I thought it would be at seventeen.

Man, I was lonely. I knew what Led Zeppelin meant when Robert Plant sang, “I know what it means to be alone, I certainly wish I was at home.”

My mother had been retired now for a few years. She had done nearly thirty years in a factory, which certainly was not the plan when she joined the working forces in the Swinging Sixties.

Dad should have retired years ago, but as previously mentioned, he had a heart condition that required him to take a lot of expensive medication. The only affordable solution was to continue working until he was sixty-five, so his medical insurance from his company would help him pay until Medicare finally kicked in.

And there it was again, the cosmic wheel turning and churning out the strangest combinations. It was quite ironic, the stress of working could be killing him, but without it he couldn’t afford the drugs he needed to live.

Again I thought about how good the Germans have it with our universal health care, and wondered “why not here”?

How did the powers that be convince people that socialism is actually communism in disguise?

What could any sane individual have against having socialized health insurance?

That would also mean the drug companies would have to toe the line, and drugs would become as cheap as the prices in Canada and Germany.

Why would anyone think this was a bad thing?

But Mom and Dad were alright. They didn’t complain about the situation, nor did they bitch and moan about raising a teenager at their age.

Thankfully, Mike was an angel compared to us, which must be the cosmic wheel turning gently in their favor. They could not have taken it had he gone nuts like we had at that age.

My older brother had been the perfect hippie rebel. The battles he and my father had were legendary, fighting about subjects like long hair and the Vietnam War and politics. Not all the fights had been verbal.

My cousin Sherri had told Ted years later that he was a hero of hers, because he had the balls to stand up to my father. Dad could be pretty intimidating. Of course, Ted was my hero too.

As a teenager I was constantly bored and thus strayed into even darker alleys as a restless, (Or should I say reckless.) teenager. At times my parents even thought I would end up in jail. But, that’s another story.

Mom had kept the torch burning for me over the years. Like every parent no doubt, she looked back at some of her choices made concerning us kids with regret. She once told me it was unreal, but all of her babies came without an owner’s manual.

I had a possible answer; maybe they didn’t get a chance to give it to her, as she always had to sneak out of the hospital as all of us kids births were paid for with weekly installments to the hospital.

I still have the original bill from my birth. I cost 1,710 dollars. I was a bargain.

But the cosmic wheel is forever turning, and a better grandmother you would not find. Hearing the grandchildren call my mother- “Nana” reminded me of the relationship I had with my Nana, and it was obvious that this thing was truly working.

My father was not much of a letter writer, thus it was Mom who kept the long letters coming, twenty years long. This tradition began in the Army, and never went away as those crazy olive green days faded from everyone’s memories along with my return ticket to Germany in 1983.

Forever the emotional one, the really bad news always came from Mom in a tearful phone call. Unlike the days from our youth, with the passing of time you could be more open speaking with her. You could even joke around about your past dope smoking, or joke about sex. Over all, I felt my mother had done well.

As with my grandmother, I could only recall one long, deeply personal talk with my father. It had occurred during my last trip, where he had taken the boys and me down to the beach to look for sand dollars.

Dad then found four sand dollars. In my whole life I still haven’t ever found one. But I did find a four-leaf clover once in Germany.

The boys were scurrying about gathering shells as we walked along the surf and talked. Dad almost admitted to mistakes while we were kids. “You are not the same person you were twenty-five years ago, nor is your world or the world in general remotely similar to how it had been back then. I did the best I could. I do wish I had spent more time with you kids.”

I had found that listening to people over the years formed all of these strange sermons in my head. It began very young, way back in Grammar school.

I actually used to tell fictional Jesus stories.

I used to make them up on the spot and tell them to my siblings and friends sitting in the back stairs.

I was a huge Jesus fan.

Mom even thought I was going to be a Catholic Priest.

That is until puberty hit me.

Perhaps I wasn’t as brutally thorough with my story-telling back then as a child as I am now on paper, forever explaining the obvious, and repeating the emphasized. That feature of my preaching probably comes from the repetitious nature of factory work.

I do owe a lot to Mom and Dad. In particular, I owe my manners to Mom’s continued efforts, and to Dad for strictly enforcing the compliance with this harmonious code of civilized behavior.

Mom has kept journals off and on over the years, and I found this interesting entry from the days when she thought I was heading off to priesthood.

Blaine’s homily on manners.

Its rather depressing that many young folks, including my own friends, are ignoring social customs of the past and slipping into a more convenient mode I would certainly label as rude behavior.

Like them, I used to play with the line “Respect your elders” and claim they, (Our elders) have to win my respect first. And maybe they did, but regardless, I treated them with respect just the same, despite of what I might have really felt or thought about them.

Dad also taught me this. It was not just a case of being polite. Any idiot can say “thank you” when the opportunity arrives or “excuse me” when they fart in public. (Although I’m sure Miss Manners would definitely not approve.)

It was a quasi-combination of displaying consideration to others, and having deference to the rest of the world’s ways.

Using the word “Please” was an obvious example of displaying courtesy. But it goes much deeper than that. When you ask your lover, friend or sibling to pass the soup, adding the magical word- “please” shows that you realize they are NOT THERE just to SERVE YOU.

Maybe good manners is just play acting, but this is a prefect way of easing the tension in dealing with other people. (I avoid people when I can, but I’m not a monk living in a cave, we all have to deal with people.)

It certainly makes the world more pleasant, our own world- the only world that counts, and I believe that when we are offered the choice between being an asshole and being nice, it makes so much more sense to be nice.

It’s our world, right? Why make it harder on ourselves? We are naked apes, with the slight difference being we can articulate our thoughts with one another. We can be civilized, even if we are only play acting.

So much of life appears to be just a game; this social conduct game was one I played particularly well, and the goodwill I experienced along the path was well worth the honest effort.

I was sincerely happy to possess good manners. I thanked my mother for this invaluable lesson and later on, I thanked my father too for keeping me in line, and of course, at the end of everyday, I thank God.

Amen.

Taken from Blaine’s Homily, Sunday, July 7, 1971. Source- Mom’s Journal.

So, with Nana gone with Sherri, and the weekend here, we finally had time to spend with Mom and Dad. Everyone needs a break from the routines that make up our day-to-day life, so we all looked forward to the upcoming break.

The new Newburyport Yuppies were having a pompous street fest uptown on the weekend, and on both days we walked up with Mom, Dad and Mike and hung out for hours amongst the American elite.

It was like a LSD flashback, it reminded me so much of my early encounters back in the Seventies with wealthy Germans.

What had “Urban Renewal” done to my hometown? It was like Chrissie Hynde sang in The Pretenders song, “My City Was Gone”. Locals were forced out by unbelievable taxes and obscene housing prices. In end effect, Olde Newburyport was destroyed by a government with no pride.

It was eye-opening to me, I had seen what these fine people had done to my hometown, but somehow they had remained anonymous. Now I could see them with their fantastic hair cuts strolling from expensive shop to shop, the men wearing their L.L. Bean hiking shoes and ironed plaid shirts, the women wore heels and Von Furstenberg signature dresses.

The men had thrusty names like Dirk or Pyke or Blaine.

I overheard staid conversations about Grand Marnier crepes and the tribulations of paying for their daughter’s ballet lessons, the timeshare in Aruba, and upgrading their foreign automobiles.

And what to do with all the money, oh boy. Risk nothing; they were letting the soulless tell them where to put their money. My God, surety bonding, net profit margins, compound interest, condos, total shareholders equity, I grew dizzy vividly picturing being rich and wanting to be richer still.

I felt their greed, and pondered this continued gathering and piling of material good upon material good and desire upon vain desire. And fear? What’s that? These folks feared only being caught one day finding themselves without their driver’s license and Apple Watch. Wow. These were definitely people who knew where they were going.

I had a sudden longing for the unkempt German freaks I hung out with in the late Seventies who lived in barely furnished farmhouses in communal groups and reused their peppermint teabags two or three times and had no idea where they were going and just didn’t care.

I probably learned more about life and myself with those carefree folks than I had ever learned from time spent with society’s well-heeled elite. Wait a minute; I have never spent time with people with money, I never got invited in.

Of course I’m exaggerating. I love everyone. We had fun downtown. We checked out all the stands, tried various exotic foods, and did a lot of good-natured people watching.

And it was educational too. I overheard a great conversation between two male species of yuppies looking at expensive paintings painted by a local artist.

One guy was enthusiastically telling the other that his marriage had been saved. He had finally gotten his wife pregnant, after five years of futile attempts. (In direct contrast, my first wife and I had unprotected sex one time in Germany, and bang, she was carrying.)

Seems this guy had a low sperm count, another modern day sickness. Yet his problem wasn’t brought about from consuming our polluted resources.

Seems his underpants were too tight in the past, creating too much heat for poor Mr. Happy and the family jewels. He had switched over to wearing boxer shorts, thus giving his overheated testicles some air, and soon afterwards, his sperm count had improved drastically.

He finally connects, his wife collects, and suddenly a baby is on the way, and now- all is well and dandy.

His mate congratulated him and heartily slapped him on the back and they walked away giggling like naughty Alter Boys telling dirty jokes in church.

I laughed, but at the same time felt a growing twinge of jealousy.

Helga and I could be heading for a divorce. I did not have a clue as to what to do to prevent it. Yet right here in Newburyport this guy had saved his marriage simply by changing his damn underwear.

Later on Mom and Dad even accompanied us to Michael’s Harborside, a popular seafood restaurant and lounge to watch the original piano man- Billy Flynn- perform outside on the deck.

It was great seeing Billy sing and play again. (He was playing an acoustic guitar, not his piano.) I was really proud of him.

I remember being seven years old and singing for Nana’s sister Bud with Billy on Lime Street. We called ourselves “The Robins”, after Robin Waldell, the girl from the neighborhood who used to play spin the bottle with us hidden in the bushes in Billy’s back yard.

We rang Bud’s doorbell, and when she opened the door, we began singing a song I had written the day before sitting on Billy’s bed entitled “I’m Just A Painter Today”. Billy strummed his Roy Rogers guitar and we sang in harmony like choirboys “I’m not a writer, I’m not a fighter, I’m not even a biter, I’m just a painter today.”

At that tender age my vocabulary couldn’t produce a better word to rhyme with fighter than “biter”. Years later “Supertramp” released the song- “It’s Raining Again”. Billy and I felt Rodger Hodgson didn’t do all that much better. He sang “Hold on you little fighter, no need to get uptighter.”

Bud stood there and smiled away at us giving this surprise concert on the sidewalk. Then she actually gave us money, a whole quarter. (This was before many things, yes? Back then a candy bar, or a package of M & M’s only cost a nickel, and a bottle of tonic a mere ten cents. As I recall, we splurged, each drinking a Cream Soda and sharing a bag of Humpty Dumpty potato chips.)

My brother Ted always taunted us and said Bud only gave us the money so we would stop singing and leave her alone.

Never the less, in retrospect it was Billy’s first professional paid gig, and my last.

I did continue to write songs in grammar school sitting in Billy and Barry’s bedroom, silly ditties like the tragic “Billy Joe”- “Billy Joe was raised in an orphanage, and never ever had a home, he wrote letters to no one, wishing that he had a phone” or the horny adolescent tune- “Meet Me At The Corner”- “I’ll be there, meet me at the corner, bring your pretty hair, and I’ll touch you there”, or the song we could never sing all the way through, The Train”- “Baby is going astray, baby has nothing more to say, baby how I hate you today, riding that train far away, wooo wooo”. We would end up hysterically laughing because of singing the woo woo bit in falsetto.

It didn’t take much to get us laughing. We didn’t suffer from insanity; we enjoyed every minute of it.

My personal favorite had a typically “Blaine-like” title. Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing the positively charming “I Know That She Knows That I’m Gonna Go”.

Billy always said he would be a singer someday. From the moment we saw The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show until the day I left America twelve years later, he continually made this claim.

I then marched off to Germany with tears in my eyes in Combat Fatigues to fight the Cold War, and Billy has done just what he said he would do. He didn’t make it big, and he hasn’t struck it rich either, but he has never punched a clock in a factory either. Respect.

His voice was still great. It was splashed with drink and reverb and still moistened a few middle-aged panties in the crowd. The Atlantic seagulls seemed to like it too, they flocked in large numbers to the roof of the building and anxiously watched the show, bopping their yellow beaks up and down to the folkish beat.

It certainly appeared that way to me, but actually they had been anxiously following the local fishermen coming in to the pier next to the deck and the many yellow beaks were only bopping trying to swallow the guts and entrails they had just salvaged out of the bloody river.

It was a hot sunny day on the Merrimac River, Billy was singing, Dad had hip sunglasses on, Helga was enjoying the sunshine on the river, and poor Mike was obviously bored to death. Billy’s folk songs and covers were a long way from “Green Day” and “Blink 182”.

Mom was constantly smiling at me and I was feeling fine, again. The days were now so complete the morning dreams nearly faded from my memories before I found myself crawling back into bed at night.

It was great walking around, and hanging around with Mom and Dad and the boy. The two days were so laid back. We weren’t in a hurry. We had time.

It turned out to be quite the luxury, as the way things worked out, something terrible had happened that added an unprecedented new level of stress to their lives, and- to ours.

Mom and Dad became extremely busy after this lazy weekend. We all did.

NEXT WEEK

May 20, 2017

IT IS RAINING EVIL AND IT IS REAL.

(More flashbacks as Nana’s health worsens.)

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