Friday, December 24, 2010


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To me, this is the meaning of Christmas

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Finally, Another Final Post

When I told Philip Dodd, The Domesticated Bohemian, I was going to write one more final post, he said, “I knew you wouldn't be able to stop at 3.”

“I had the same problem with beer,” I replied, which was apropos to nothing except a bit of humor.

* * *

After Philip read that I've hung up my blogging hat, he proposed something called "The Charlie Award". In his words,

"To cut a long story short Charlie has agreed that I can put together and give an award in his name. An award for people who write insightful and moving posts. The idea is that it goes to people whose writing reflects a certain emotional maturity and insight, a generous approach to the human condition. People who aren't scared of writing something that exposes themselves, and touches us.

Not to be given out every week, but as and when deserved. A fitting tribute. Like an Oscar, people will be awarded a "Charlie". I from now on make it my personal mission to find his spirit in others and to cherish it and nourish it." [Italics are mine]

I don’t know how many times I’ve read a post that “touched me” and all I could do was make a lame comment about it in the itty-bitty comment window. That is why I’m endorsing this award: it recognizes a truly outstanding piece of writing by a blogging peer.

The fact that I had my head bronzed ala Oscar may seem narcissistic, but when I'm at the end of life's journey the spirit of the award will remain for all of you:

If you're interested in Philip's choices, you may want to follow him or put The Domesticated Bohemian on your sidebar. He's a very nice English fellow, he really is.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Wasting Away in Blogaritaville

NOTE: This is a three-part post. (Part 1 of 3)

"I'm way past my sell-by date and am on precious borrowed time. I should have gone down a long time ago. Lots of days, I wish I had."
—Ken Bruen, The Magdalen Martyrs

What the hell is this? Is Charlie giving up on life?


Rather, life is giving up on Charlie.

Is death imminent? Not that I know of, but one never knows. I do know that I feel less well, now that pain has entered the picture. At the risk of complaining, the last week has been miserable.

I have decided, then, that it is time to hang up my blogging hat. What has been a joy since 2005 is, at the end of 2010, a pursuit I have absolutely no chance of keeping up with— either writing, reading, or commenting.

There is a bit of selfishness here, too. I can still read on my Kindle, albeit blurry, but it's nothing like trying to read the computer screen. The trick with the Kindle is to hold it close to my face without getting those bothersome nose prints on the screen.

I'll still be lurking around, though, so there will be no goodbyes. I'll update my books read and favorite movies when I'm able, and I'll visit your blogs as I can.

I do want to thank you all for the hundreds of hours you've spent sharing your lives with me. I love you all.


Whispering to Martha

(Part 2 of 3)

Whispering to Martha

On August 23, 1974, you made a promise to me. You promised to take me, to have me and to hold me from that day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love me and to cherish me, until death do us part.

For thirty-six years, you have never broken that promise. Not once. No matter what I did, or what I did not do but should have done.

It was easy to have me and to hold me for the better, but you had me and held me for the worse as well. A lot of worse. Without thought for your own well-being, but for mine. When you came to Family Week at the alcohol treatment center you said, “I thought I was here to help you. If I had known it was to help me, I would not have come.”

And that broke my heart when I realized how badly I had broken your heart. How I had ignored your needs and wants for my own. You were always, always giving your Self away but never, ever taking anything for your Self in return.

But it was those two broken hearts, yours and mine together, that gave me the will and the strength to recover—so that, for the first time, I might give back some of the Self you always gave so freely to me.

I wanted to give you love, and respect, and comfort, I wanted to protect you from your fears—all the things I never knew how to give to anyone, including myself. Most of all, I wanted to restore the trust you gave me with your vow because, without it, anything I ever tried to give would be suspect, hollow, just another empty promise.

Twenty years later, I think I have regained your trust, and I think I have given you some of the things I promised to give: To take, to have, to hold, to love, and to cherish you.

God, how I have cherished you, only to hurt you one last time.

I picture two rocking chairs. There is one for each of us, and they are for reading, and laughing, and remembering, together. They are for our golden years, together, for watching the Creator in the mountains, in the trees, in the animals and the birds, in the clouds and the wind and the rain. They are for sharing our happiness, our contentment, and our affection—just the two of us, together, with both of our hearts and our minds finally at peace. After all the turbulence, finally tranquility.

Except I won’t be there with you, laughing and remembering and loving, together, in our two rocking chairs. I won’t be there with you, sharing a blanket on a chilly ninety-five-degree summer day when you have goose bumps. I won’t be there with you, a bitchy old bag, and a grumpy old fart enjoying every minute of our old age . . . together.

God, how that breaks my heart, thinking of you sitting there all by yourself, alone, with no one to rub your sore back for you, or to see your tears, or to see your smile, or to say, “I love you with all of my soul. I always have, and I always will.”

All because I had to smoke cigarettes until they killed me.

But you will have kept your promise, until death do us part, because you have never broken it. Not once. No matter what I did, or what I did not do but should have done.

And maybe, one night when you are sitting alone in your rocking chair, you will look up in the sky and see a skinny star with glasses and freckles, and you will hear a whisper on the wind,

“I love you, Martha, with all of my soul. I always have, and I always will.”

* * *

More than two years later, I still blubber like a fool at my own writing. I can't stand the thought of leaving Martha alone—and that thought is what makes the waiting so goddamn hard.

Swan Song

(Part 3 of 3)

Swan Song

I, mere mortal, have no more songs to sing except this, the final one, my earthly swan song.

Very soon my soul will leave this breathless body behind and soar, unburdened, toward home.

Very soon my soul will fly, finally free, into the heavens and take its rightful place in the Universe.

Very soon its past and present and future will be over and my soul will wait, patiently, for its lover.

And until she arrives I, immortal soul, will be singing the best I can.

* * *

"Smile" was written by Charlie Chaplin and is sung here by Nat King Cole. Charlie could smile in the worst of circumstances. And so can I.

And so can you.