Thursday, April 25, 2013


(A Short story)

She came from a fairly logical, although chaotic background. Her father drank, but was a happy drunk. A former Captain in the Air Force, pilot of B-29s, he mustered out towards the end of the Korean Police Action after 2 crash landings after successful sorties down MIG alley; all shot up. The Captain landed his birds and saved his crews, but the landings were hard and there were injuries. In 1953, with no high school education, he married another Scot in Petoskey, Michigan, took entrance exams and went to college. The kid was an “oops baby” and Daddy was sole caretaker, while Ma worked 3 jobs to get Dad through school.

1st Lt. Glenn Wallace

The girl grew up as kids did in the 50s, semi-happily, thriving on neglect and left mostly to her own devices. Music was her passion from the minute of her birth; it was the only thing that really existed for her; that and reading. Reading was primarily for an escape from increasingly bitter arguments between parents; parents who were no longer agreeing on how to raise their only daughter. Daddy had it right. He'd been with her from her birth and knew the kid was like him. Ma did too, and was trying to do everything to change that. But the kid wouldn't have been happy with that. Thus, the conflict. So, the Daddy hung on.

Unaware of what this conflict concerned at the time, the kid went on her way, started playing the violin, still reading. A few years earlier, a failed suicide attempt on the part of Ma, drove a final wedge between the marriage of Daddy and Ma, although it would be years before the marriage ended formally. Through it all, Daddy and the kid discussed things. They would roam the night and look at the skies, Daddy swigging his Boone's Farm, or more increasingly, Vodka, but never mean or cruel. Ma could be so to the kid. Daddy was the kid's refuge and she appreciated his cold logic as he explained the heavens. He told her about Vega, Mars. He explained Einstein and his special Theory of Relativity. He loved Meteorology and explained the different types of clouds and their weather.

Ma Flying; guess who hates to fly?

As she grew and he ran out of answers for her, instead of mock-shouting “Because I said so!” which always made her laugh, he went to his brother-in-law, the Nuclear Physicist, who worked at Jack-Ass Flats in Nevada. Daddy wasn't prone to confabulation and often thought that Uncle had some wild stories, but then Daddy remembered some of his own hair-raising experiences flying his squadron out over the so-called Bermuda Triangle and was maybe, just maybe, a little less skeptical. So, with Uncle's 2 sons and Daddy's daughter, they explored the heavens and the world around them. Grand adventures.

Ma wasn't always so harsh; she'd had a hard childhood with grifter parents and would try to relate to her only child. She loved her, but wasn't always sure how to relate to her. She did sense an otherness, a logic or something she couldn't put her finger on. She said to the kid once, “you need to keep at least one foot in this world.” Her daughter looked at her blankly, for a moment. If she said anything in response, it is not remembered. Ma gave up. Her daughter was in parochial school, learning from Jesuit priests. In an attempt to find answers about the origins, meaning of the universe, god-consciousness, her teacher said, “Now, see here, you don't need me, to interpret all of this. You have that spark of divinity. You just have to seek it out for yourself. That's what you are, a seeker of truth.”

Hmm, at 12 years old, the girl knew she's not really old enough, but that thought took root, and still dwells there. Over the years, things change, as they do in every life. The girl grew up, made a whole bunch of bad choices and some damned good ones. She married young. That didn't work out, so she married again. That didn't work, either. That fabled 3rd time is the charm? No, it isn't. But, somewhere along the way, she switched from violin to viola, majored in music and that took off. She never stepped foot in a classroom to teach, but taught privately for 30 years.

She played viola in every type of venue there was for that long as well and loved every minute of it. The 2nd husband (also a violist; they met on a gig) was sad when the Zither Fairy didn't show up and turn his wife into a zither player, so the wife in a fit of frustration, went back to school and decided to major in something TOTALLY different than music; Computer Science. That is the left-brain talking, ladies and gentlemen, because unbeknownst to her, music is almost completely math, as is comp sci. She got rid of husband number 2 and went to work for IBM, who let her play all she wanted to and work from the road. Sweet deal. 3 years later, in an upward move, Verizon let her do the same thing. She was still seeking.

Wolf, Mary and Bernadette Peters

But, no one gets to have their cake and eat it, too. There's always a price to be paid, or scales to be balanced out. Our girl was also partying hard and making bad choices personally. That is not what caused her current predicament, but it didn't help either. Eventually, after a disastrous 3rd marriage and 5 years of living with some guy who's abusive and capricious, she ends up in the hospital. She's already blind in one eye. Now, she's got malnutrition and COPD and CHF. She gets better after 2 months in the hospital and is placed in a homeless shelter.

After receiving her Disability and moving, she has a psychotic break and starts to manifest symptoms of Parkinson's Disease and they're pretty significant. She's legally blind and has dealt with that, so this is really not that big a deal. Once in a while it gets frustrating.

The interesting thing is this: with each sense that is damaged, other things come along that increase awareness of things not normally seen. She can feel someone's distress from far away. If she is still and quiet during the day, she can feel that, but faintly. It's stronger at night. She used to love the night time. After the psychotic break, she feared it for several months. She had what is known as “night terrors.” She would see things flitting around and it bothered her. About 2 months ago, she opened her eyes and they were there. Six of them. Shimmering, beautiful, the closest description would be almost like sunflowers, with appendages and digits.

I run this at night; my computer is in my bedroom.

They were in a semi-circle around the bed. Even the air shimmers and is golden. This house has always had a presence. Something jumping on the bed; nothing malign. But these 6 don't come all the time. They were fearsome at first. They only come when SETI@home isn't running at night; once a week at most. The girl become woman is logical, you see, but she remembers her Daddy and Uncle and their discussions about Area 51 and things thought to be preposterous. She shares the skepticism, but like her two relatives, she has an open mind. During the last visit, as she thought “I mean no harm and will protect you,” the smallest one, barely 2 feet high, put it's hand upon the edge of the coverlet. Three small fingers.

It's not an answer, it's more a piece of a large puzzle. We are born seekers. I don't know what anything is sometimes. I can't speak to anyone else's outlooks or zeitgeists, I only know that as I've aged and as I've had to deal with more and more physical challenges, I cease to be as alarmed by things that would have raised the hair on the back of my neck a decade ago. Scots are by nature, a fey group. We may be hella mathematicians, ship builders and doctors, but then, there's Nessie. Need I say more? 

Nessie is our claim to fame!

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