Tag Archives: Allman

The Words from Deep in Your Heart

A shot of me with my dobro . . . you can see the new ring glinting off the fretboard

Silence Ain’t Golden by Gregg Allman from the LP Searching for Simplicity

Most of the time my evenings are difficult – not because of loss or grief but because of sheer exhaustion.  The amount of work any one child creates for their parents is pretty substantial.  The amount of work four children create isn’t just four times the amount it’s exponentially higher.  I don’t have the exact formula,  but it’s got to be something to the fourth or fifth power, not simply squared.  For that reason up until the last week or so it’s been more about collapsing to sleep than it really has anything else.

But after yesterday’s philosophical discussion about the acceptance letter Andrea received to Creighton University I began to feel things I hadn’t realized were creeping up on me.

Today, I got the ring I’d ordered.  It has the date – 3/26 stamped by hand in Roman numerals – III XXVI.  It’s just rough and textured enough to match me, I suppose, both my feelings and my demeanor.  I guess I appreciate getting it today because for some reason it’s really weighed on me.  So many things I want to talk about and share and have the joy or sharing with someone and I don’t have the one person I really wish I could share them with.  It’s not a woe-is-me attitude, I realize it sounds that way, but it’s not.

My daughter is going to the Prom.  It’s not with a date, no, and she’s not having the perfect evening, I suppose, but I helped to make this happen.  I found a dress.  I helped her pick out shoes thanks to an amazing friend of mine.  I set up getting her hair done and her day taken care of.  She’s talking about college.  I look at those things and wish I had someone I could tell about them and talk about them and just marvel at how far she’s come.  Someone beside the ceiling fans and the light fixtures in the house.

The thoughts and feelings that well up in me are ones that I wish I had discussed with her in the past.  Sometimes the words deep down are easy to ignore, as the song says.  So many things about what our vision was for our kids’ futures and what kind of boys and men our sons would become are all things we had only broached and never really talked about.

Then there’s just the intimacy of another knowing you the way you hope they do.  I realized looking at that acceptance letter that I hadn’t – not in all the times I travelled or stayed behind to clean up the sale of our house, or a million other trips – I never sent a letter to my wife when we were married.  How silly is that?  We all love getting mail.  I mean, sure, we talked on the phone, we shared our lives, but how intimate and thoughtful is a letter, you know what I mean?  Spur of the moment was always so much harder for me and the opportunity to write down those words, to share them, that is something I wish I had done.

So I realize now, after so many long months, what I am missing.  It’s not a cry for help or a determination that I want to just go out and find someone.  It’s that I have all these things in front of me: the 8th grade and high school graduations; the college ceremony; the weddings, grandchildren, all of them are going to happen and I’ll be the only one there.  It’s not just that it isn’t fair, and that’s true, it’s that I’m coming to the realization that this is it: there is no other path.  I have to keep writing this story because the other one truly has ended.

I worry about our kids, having so much time to contend with knowing they only have me as their parent.  Sure, I got the dress and all that stuff but it’s your Mom that you want to do makeup and hair and talk about boys and who you dance with and who you want to dance with.  Sure, they have aunts and friends but they’re just not Mom.

How do I know this?  Because I suffer from the same thing.  I have all these things, amazing friends, colleagues, people who want to help, and I’d be glad to talk with them, sure, but it’s just not the same.  It’s not Andrea.  This woman understood me and listened and I realize now that I wish I told and asked her so many more things.  I wish I’d been far less selfish and far more loving.  I do miss being able to look over and just smile, feeling the warmth, and for no reason say “I love you.”

I think ahead to when the kids are gone and wonder what I will do?  Where will they be?  Where will I go?  I don’t see myself with another person, not really.  Maybe that will change, maybe something will happen I least expect.  But then again, maybe things will be like this.  Maybe it’s time to travel the worlds, see the Pyramids like I’d always wanted.  Maybe I could ask the BBC if they have an opening for a silly, crazy Yank who wants to live in England for ahwile.

The thing is, those aren’t thoughts or dreams I want and am glad I have them.  They’re thoughts and ideals that I’d postulated to my wife and now I don’t have her here to tell me how silly they are or how impractical they are.  Maybe that’s for the best, maybe I use my imagination more and find some adventure.

But for the most part, I find the words deep in my heart are the easiest and most necessary to ignore now.  Silence ain’t golden, and maybe that’s why I write the things here every night.

But I do wish I’d had more time to say those words, and most importantly, to hear hers again.

Put the weight right on me . . .

The Weight by Aretha Franklin, Written by Levon Helm An alternate version of this classic song, with Duane Allman on slide guitar!

I knew Christmas was going to be hard, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist (do we even have those anymore?  Now that NASA got rid of all our shuttles?) to figure it out.  What I figured was that it was going to pull on my heart and drain me emotionally.  Don’t get me wrong, it does, but I never expected the physical difficulties that go along with it.

I have four kids, not like you didn’t know that, but I emphasize to make a point.  3 of the 4 are in the same school and Grade/Middle school age, so the whole Christmas season is there for me to tackle.  It actually starts with my middle child (I call her the middle, she came 2nd, the boys 3rd, kind of count them as a package deal) and her start for Confirmation.  It’s a Catholic thing, you really don’t need the details.  What you do need to know is that, unlike when I went to Catholic school, where the lessons, preparation, all of it came during the religion classes and in extra school day work.  Now it’s on the weekends and they prep you over the course of a couple years.  Hannah started that in November, moving onto December. Being the child with the worst procrastination tendencies in the world, she forgot to fill out her forms, have her sponsor inform her the information she needed, and neglected to find the Catholic Youth Bible she needed until . . . of course . . . 2 days before the meeting.

Then there’s Christmas.  I love Christmas . . . the whole Christmas season.  (Please don’t ask why, no one quite knows the reason . . . you get the point)  But with children it’s not without its stresses.  I have two boys who have to have secret Santa gifts . . . My middle daughter, she needs one too, though being Hannah, she didn’t inform me what we need to get.  That all starts in the next few days.  There’s the Christmas play . . . which of course the kids have to have clothes for.  Since the boys and Hannah have both grown exponentially in the last year, there’s no wearing what we have in the closet.  This has been on top the fact that they come home every day with their white shirts brown or black from playing soccer on the playground.  There are holes in their uniform pants.  The brand new jeans have holes in the knees.

I have to buy Christmas presents.

I’m not complaining about the cost, don’t get that impression, I get it.  It’s part of the cost of having kids and I have four of them.  (Before they come, I know there are ways to either prevent pregnancy or “choices” that we could have made.  That ship has sailed . . . on both counts . . . I’m not making a political statement, get over it!)  What you don’t realize is just how much you share that burden when you have the other person there.  If you have two parents, and they’re both involved in raising the kids – I don’t care if they’re divorced or still married – it’s amazing you accomplish everything as it is.  I just wasn’t prepared for the holidays like I thought I was.

After the Confirmation chaos, I had to start with presents.  Andrea spent a lot of weekdays with the kids, so much so that she knew exactly what they wanted, or what would be best for them.  I have to ask what they want and get the inevitable child’s “I don’t know” (in that mumbled, half-talk, Harrison Ford in the current era marbles in the cheeks voice)  Four kids, no ideas.  I mean, I got ideas, I figured it out, but the days of sitting on the couch with Andrea and talking out what the kids each want and what they get are gone.  My closest person is Abbi, and I don’t want to talk too much about this with her.  She’s still 16.  Even if you do or don’t believe in Santa any more, there’s just something magical about NOT knowing everything.  You shouldn’t be part of the Christmas preps if you’re not the parent.

It’s all about time and my lack of it.  I have to steal time to go to Target or surf Amazon after I make lunches at night.  Even now I have presents hidden and few wrapped.  I finally got the Christmas play uniforms, but we ate dinner at almost 8pm as a result.

Jolly isn’t the adjective for me right now.  Stressed out and gaining more white than black hairs is.  I look at the tree and see a pathetic few presents wrapped and stay up past 1 wrapping a few each night so the kids can see I haven’t forgotten.  I can see the anticipation on their faces and there’s part of me that sees them look at me and wonder if we’re going to make it through the holiday.  I have to put on that face that acts like I know what I’m doing and say “we’re not done yet, there will be a few more under there soon.”

I know somehow there will, but every time I get one thing done, three more things land on my plate.  I look around at things I have to take care of and realize that they’re the things Andrea took care of and I was blissfully unaware what she did.  I had my own part of the bargain to deal with.  What do you get a teenage girl?  Andrea would find great makeup or jewelry or perfume or something.  I am a Dad.  Worse than that, I’m a Midwestern corn-fed, football watching musician of a man.  All I know about those things is if the person’s wearing too much of it.  She’s past the age when Barbies and Legos are wonderful.  So how do I make it magical for her?  Andrea left and took those secrets with her.

I look at Christmas as the first big Litmus Test.  I mean, what happens when Hannah hits puberty hard and heavy?  When I have to talk to this kind, naive, beautiful girl and let her know that the guys she looks at as best friends will eventually have only 1 thing on their minds.  If they don’t already.

“Tis the season, sure, but the season is a test.  If I fail, it sets the tone for the rest of the story.  I’m straining under the pressure.  I never realized how much Andrea and I relied on each other.  Now I truly feel the absence.  It’s so true, she let me put some of the weight on her shoulders, so we could both stand up straight.

Now, I hope that all I do is bend.  None of us can afford for me to break.