Thursday, February 07, 2008
Pain Body (Part Two): Grandfather
It wasn’t longer before someone mentioned the tradition of eating oysters for Christmas dinner and the ensuing problems the raised for a young child.
I asked them if they knew why they were eating oysters.
Turns out, neither of my uncles had ever mentioned the story Mom recounted to us every year.
“My father was born on Christmas day and so he got to choose his favorite food for Christmas dinner. And he loved oysters.”
And about then, Mom would start tearing up, because Grandfather had loved her and she had loved him, and one week after she returned from her honeymoon in 1946,
William Kearfott put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.
Mom had felt it coming. She had had a dream the night before and called her father early the next morning. His reassure proved untrue.
In a few hours he was dead.
Uncle Eddie, age 14, was pounding on the bathroom door when his father killed himself.
So this last Christmas, when I walked into Mom’s kitchen to find her dressed in her all in her Merry Christmas clothes with tears in her eyes, I was ready for a trauma.
But, I didn’t expect her to say that she’d just found out that Eddie was dead.
I didn’t expect her to say that she hadn’t called him last night because she wanted to call tomorrow on the twenty – forth.
And I didn’t expect her to say that this old man with Alzheimer’s, who hadn’t done a thing without my Aunt’s help in years, had gotten out of bed all by himself in the middle of the night to die of a heart attack
in the bathroom.
I have to wonder if the room hadn’t haunted him throughout his life.
His daughter Kitty was en-route home for Christmas, had delayed a day to visit with friends a few hours away.
She says that night a single clap of thunder exploded through her lodgings.
The event shook everyone.
An hour later, the phone rang. Eddie was gone.
I have to wonder about the noise of that gun shot.
I asked Kitty if she’d seen the lightening bolt Mom wears around her neck.
She wears it to commemorate my father’s passing.
As we completed the sprinkling of his ashes into the Atlantic one lone cloud on the distant horizon had flashed with a bolt that made us all jump.
“Poppy!” Mom had cried referring to her comment in the hospital as we’d waited for them to prop his body.
“Poppy said that when he died he was going to be ‘an electrical thought impulse.’”
At the time this strange prediction had simply made me laugh.
Now, it makes me wonder. How many circles do we trace out.
Yet another Christmas and once again, Mom was in tears:
She had meant to call.
All the men in her life died so quickly, just like that, no warning.
“And Grandma wouldn’t let me cry at Dad’s funeral!”
At the age of 82, Mom is still angry at her mother.
By the time I was 10, I knew that Mom’s body gave her constant pain.
She would wrap her legs in ace bandages as she constantly had flares ups of phlebitis, the blood clotting in her inflamed veins.
Other explanations included, “The doctor told me I developed food allergies rather than having a nervous breakdown in the early 1950’s.”
And not long after that, I became aware that both my uncles waged a battle against alcohol,
as did Mom and Grandma to a lesser extent,
as have my cousins.
But, I was surprised and then intrigued to learn this past weekend that,
“Six family members have suffered psychotic episodes.”
Since I was pretty sure I was being included in this list, I chuckled and replied,
“You know, I think we might reframe that statistic into terms of spiritual awakening.”
After all, one man’s Psychotic is another’s Shaman.
Thus, not all psychotic episodes are pathology.
The term “spiritual emergency” has been coined since I had many of my experiences.
I myself have always learned fascinating stuff every time I’ve slipped off the end of that old Bell Curve of Normality.
Not that the fall wasn’t painful, difficult, and something I might choose to avoid if given half a chance.
But it has always been an eye opener.
And in all honesty, I have often wondered if the hunger, the intense longing for the grips of spiritual connection, even at the cost of worldly function, isn’t simply a deeper layer in a soul also at risk more superficially to addiction to alcohol and heroine.
And if the next generation is following our lead (which apparently they are),
perhaps they’d like to know a bit about the family tradition:
We are a Sensitive bunch.
We hunger deeply.
We have not always been allowed to claim our sensitivity
and thus not allowed to claim all the power of the Self, not allowed to satisfy our deepest hungers.
That denial has created our family pain body and we will replay the cycle until the body is dissolved.