Untotaled: Stepping 45 (November ?, 1968) Cobalt … December 13, 2014

  Jonathots Daily Blog

(2442)

(Transcript)

I don’t remember the exact day.

I recall it was cold and November, which is standard fare in Ohio.

My parents had taken a trip to Columbus and my mother returned late that evening, without my father in tow. I didn’t think much about it. I was nearly seventeen years old and preoccupied with the status of my burgeoning sideburns.

She was sullen–my mother, that is. This was not unusual. She was given to fits of extremes, and I was fully aware that when she was in this condition, to stay clear–for everything about me was a potential object for attack.

I hid out in my room, and then heard a knock on my door. It was her.

She came in and sat down with tears in her eyes. She told me that “Daddy” was in Columbus in the hospital, diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. I never called him “Daddy.”

It was a strange sensation. I knew I was supposed to feel something. i really wanted to, and was aware that she expected me to, so I mustered some emotion.

I told her I wanted to be alone, and she complied.

When the door was closed I turned off the light, laid down on my bed and thought about the man who was my father.

We had never been close.

He was forty-eight years old when I was born so I am sure it was a little awkward for him to have a toddler, and finally a teen, jostling about the house.

He was a stoic man, not free with his feelings, leaving you wondering half the time if he had fondness in your direction whatsoever.

But now he was sick. That makes a difference, you know.

Two days later he returned from the hospital.

We were told he would begin cobalt radiation treatments the next week. He tried to smile and muster a brave profile but I could tell he was terrified, and once the treatments began it was even worse.

At that point in medical research, therapy was more or less an attempt to scorch the cancer, thus literally burning up the flesh around it. Cobalt.

He was red and swollen, but still desperately tried to connect with me to make amends for years of uncomfortable silence.

I was a jerk. I repelled him.

I was a teenager, and it was required of me to have a bit of aversion toward my father figure, but he really needed me to be more forgiving. I did not possess the capacity.

Christmas was sparse that year.

The nutcracker was down.

It was difficult to get our minds on “Joy to the World” when Dad was suffering and dying.

 

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Except What? … September 18, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2009)

cartoon melting potThere is no such thing as a “pure-blooded American.” America was accumulated, not ordained.

We are a mish-mash mess of a miraculous mixture, a mysterious mutation majestically merging into a magnificent mob.

Our ancestors left monarchy, anarchy, oligarchy, patriarchs and matriarchs to come and experiment with the outlandish assertion that all men–and women, for that matter–are created equal.

So what causes us to jut out our multicultural jaws and claim that “we are exceptional?”

Do we really become more valuable to the human race by expressing superiority? Does God in heaven smile down on us as the new “Chosen People,” having abandoned the Jewish race for the job?

I guess what bothers me is the word “exceptional.” The root of it is “except.” In other words:  to make exempt from consideration.

Even though all of my training, understanding and basic common sense tells me that whoever has much, of that person is required more, we have taken on some sort of “Holy-Roman-Empire-mentality,” believing that since we are born and reared within a three-thousand-mile radius of one another on this continent, then we somehow have a free pass to make mistakes without critique.
When I was a kid I did childish things. Some slack was cut. Thank God.
When I had kids of my own, the slack was removed and was replaced with the “r word”–responsibility.
When those kids grew up and needed me to be a wise sage to them for guidance–and to transform myself into a grandfather–it was my purpose to make that journey without grumping or complaining and certainly minus useless immaturity.

So looking at our country, I see that we went through our toddler phase during the Revolution, through adolescence by continuing slavery in a rebellious way, which led to Civil War. But now, as we father the notion of freedom and become grandfathers to the concept of democracy, we should put away childish things. We should not compare ourselves to other countries when we talk about human rights. Most of THEM never claimed that expression of equality in their forms of government.

We shouldn’t even look at our Olympic athletes and extol them as higher and better when they win medals, for we live in the lap of luxurious training as a lifestyle instead of having to work it in around the planting and harvesting seasons.

The word should not be exceptional, but instead, should be “expect-tional.” Since we’ve been blessed with freedom, ingenuity, prosperity and spirituality, we should expect more from our country than those around us.

When I finally see us use a different measuring stick to our own morality than we do to the world at large, I will understand that we finally have comprehended what it means to be American, settling our souls on the fact that to be exceptional means you must live by the credo: to he who much is given, much is expected.

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