Fall is over; winter began a week ago. 2013 is nearly gone, and I must say, “Good riddance” to the bulk of it. I pray 2014 will bring more blessings than curses.
These are all photos taken on Levi’s tenth birthday in early November, so they are all bittersweet for me to contemplate. Still, with the passing of fall, it is time to clear my palette (and my blog) of these now out-of-date images, colorful though they may be.
I enjoyed two visits with Levi at his hospital over the weekend. He read to me from his journal, which is his version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, complete with cartoons. He is almost painfully honest in all he writes, and many of his jokes have real bite for anyone who is familiar at all with his situation. He shared with me his character descriptions for a story or series of stories he wants to write about a group of future Boy and Girl Scouts from eight different planets, his version of the Legion of Superheroes. From hearing him read from his journal and listening to his story ideas, I think he is at least as talented a storyteller as I was at his age. His “Uncle” Barry N. Malzberg asked me to try to dissuade Levi from becoming a science fiction writer, but now that the kid seems to be bound and determined to follow in his dad’s footsteps, I promised Barry I would always enforce the dictate, “Don’t ignore the day job! Writing science fiction financially supports about two percent of the people who make the effort to write and publish it (and two percent may be overstating matters).” Of course, by the time Levi reaches his earning years, the publishing paradigm may have changed half a dozen more times.
I’ve found that I enjoy giving Levi “Grandpa Frank’s Magical Back Rubs and Back Scratches” as much as he enjoys receiving them. There is something simply marvelous about that sort of rhythmical body to body contact which is meditative and soothing, both the the giver and the recipient. Plus, it has been a pleasure to introduce my mother’s father into Levi’s life; after all, my Grandpa Frank was my best friend until I reached the age of five, when heart disease stole him from me.
My brother Ric gave me the gift of clarity and closure today regarding my relationship with my mother and stepdad. Essentially, I learned that there is no relationship anymore, nor any possibility of reconciliation, so I am finally free to grieve. They have chosen to believe their own self-absolving lies, and it sounds as though this transaction has transformed them from the decent and mostly kind people I once knew into hollow shells of their former selves. They are pitiable to me now, as sad as this is for me to admit. But even if they continue to delude themselves — especially since they have chosen to do so — this does not mean that I can allow myself delusions of my own. It is time for me to grieve the relationships I once had.
All kudos to my wife Dara, who has ensured that not a single visiting period has passed since Levi has been in the hospital during which he has not had either me or her as a visitor, often with Levi’s siblings along. And additional kudos go to my father, Levi’s grandfather, who has called Levi nearly every night he has spent in the hospital. I’ve told Dad that Levi will never forget this kindness, ever.
I’ll be returning to work and to at least a portion of my former writing schedule the day after New Year’s Day, this Thursday. I have been away from work for nearly two months now. I enjoyed my first extended writing session at Panera Bread on Sunday before visiting Levi. This was my first long writing session since two weeks prior to Thanksgiving. It’s hard for me to believe I’ve been away from my laptop for that long (with the exception of keeping this blog updated). Many thanks to all of you who have stuck with me throughout my “recovery blog” series. I’ve enjoyed every comment I’ve received. Your feedback has been extremely gratifying. May all of you enjoy a happy, safe, and prosperous New Year!