written February 11, 2016
“… I certainly don’t expect you to understand”, I spat back at my long lost sister. “You call it ‘happenstance’; that, Jesus is the reason.”
“Well that’s nonsense. He was just a man. A good man thrust upon a small world of illiterate shepherds. Alone he dared, did his best, as I’ve dared and made the best. But I will not work myself into an early grave or nervous breakdown” like your son or husband.
“I can easily be called a piss poor German for this work ethic. I am guilty as charged with an abandoning indifference toward Revolution. But it’s all accidental – birth, education, property. An accidental capitalist. Accidental husband. Accidental landlord. I was just making best of an accident.”
When you haven’t known your sibling for 47 years, there’s no time for antecedents, details. It demands candor. No synopsis or Cliff Notes. Timidity wastes time. Time we do not have.
“Gosh if someone heard us they might think this is a fight”, Jutta injected, “but I wish [my son] could be more like you… me too”, she admitted.
“I’ve conquered childish fears and fables” although my desires and demons remain challenging. Still I’ve navigated virtually alone, indigent with the winds usually blowing in my face, rarely at my back.
“Schwesti, we’ve survived” but unwittingly our success crowds our lives with influences that will be our death. We’ve anointed the Kalends of our February that draw us to the ides of our March.
On queue Jutta announced her son had his fifth baby last night, filling her “with joy and thanksgiving to [her] father in heaven who blessed this undeserving woman with such a great family.”
As bastards of Occupation, I see again our shared reality, contradictions: undeserving, we were adrift yet found an enriched path leading us toward death. (A death she desires.)
I am proud of her. Happy she has Jesus. Happier I had a man who wanted to be a father. Staff Sergeant Maxwell Horace Pennock, USA. The same United States Army that created Jutta and me; that, brought the unknown “swinging dicks” to conqueror and occupy our hometown.(“Don’t you want to know who they are?”, she’s asked. “No! They got what they wanted and went home to their wives and lives”, I reply.)
Long a societal stigma, being fatherless is demeaning. You disguise it yet must own it. My sister thankfully had a twin, was not given away. She found a father in Jesus.
The grace of age has allowed me to recognize the impact and importance of male elders. In a world now with so many fatherless children, they’re essential.Three men formed the rails that guided this little engine that would down an improbable path.
Though my father’s last breath was long ago yesterday, he nurtured me through adolescence. Another, born long ago this very day, he unleashed my imagination. My third elder, an octogenarian survives – this his birth month. Though he’d refute it, he was my accidental mentor. He pushed me out the door of youth into a big world that – due to no one’s fault, I had closed in adolescence.
All three antithetical of the other, they taught tenacity and obedience, guile and defiance, calculation and risk. By the springtime of my life, I fought lessons, as bastards often do. Never pretty, I flailed and failed. Unlike the man that I never knew they did not abandon me.
Now without elders, I recognize that I am an elder, as all good men must embrace.
Personally I fight sorrow yet it’s outweighed by tremendous thanks, even if they knew not what they did.