The dark secret…conclusion

Welcome to part 2 of The dark secret. You can catch part 1 here.

“Anna, I want you to kill me.” He paused to let his words sink in.

Anna got out of her chair and walked towards the front door.
“Please,wait!” he called to her.
“This is fucking crazy.” she yelled as she put on her shoes. “I’m not a killer and I can’t believe you just asked me that!”
“Anna, please.” he implored. “Allow me to show you just one thing before you go. Please?”
“Make it quick.” she barked.
He gestured to the hallway to the back of the house. He began his slow walk and Anna reluctantly followed. They came to a closed door and Klaus stood before it, his body twisted towards her with his hand on the knob.
“This will make it clearer for you. Please come in.” He opened the door and she slowly walked past him into the room.

She gasped and fell back. Bracing herself with one arm, she surveyed the giant Swastika flag pinned to the wall before her. Her heart pounding, her legs nearly giving out from under her, she surveyed the rest of the room in horror. Symbols of the Third Reich were everywhere. Felt pads with medals fastened littered the tables and benches. Books with German writing on the binders loaded the bookshelves. Flags and banners crowded the walls. She turned, outraged, to Klaus, who stood there with a stone face, his chin on his chest.
“You are the first person I have ever shown this to” he said. “A tremendous, awful burden has been lifted.”
“Well Fuck you very much for that. I hope you feel better! I sure as hell don’t.” She headed out the door.
“Anna!” he called after her. “Please let me explain further.”
She spun and glared at him. “What!” she yelled. “What is there to further explain? You’re a goddamn Nazi!”
“Please come back into the kitchen and allow me to shed further light.” He stood motionlessly in the doorway to the kitchen.
“You have 5 minutes and then I’m walking. Most likely to the Police Station.”
“Fine” he replied.

They sat down in front of their cold cups of tea.

“Anna.” He slowly began. “I am not proud of my past.”
“Then why the shrine of atrocities in your fucking bedroom? Ikea closed?”
“Ikea?”
“Never mind, Not important. Continue.”
“I have that room as a reminder. Not to celebrate my past, but to punish my present. As a reminder of my horrible misdeeds.” He paused and rubbed his eyes. “But it’s simply not enough punishment anymore.”
“So you want me to kill you. Because I’m Jewish? Some kind of poetic justice or some shit?”
“Because I can’t die on my own. And because you’re Jewish it would strengthen my penance.”
Puzzled, Anna took a moment to let that statement sink in.
“Klaus, if you don’t mind me saying so. You’re quite old, certainly mother nature will do the job for you eventually. Even soon?”
“Anna, just how old do you think I am?”
“If I had to guess I would say 90.”
“Table that thought for a moment.” He stared intently at her. “May I further unburden myself of my horrible, evil past?”
“If you must.”

He began to tell her of the distinguished military service of SS Grupen fuhrer Klaus Messerschmidt, Group leader and Field General in command of Auschwitz Concentration Camp. A bright military mind whose loyalty was unquestioned by his comrades, he was the youngest Field General in the Eastern Command. He was also the most sadistic.

For 15 minutes Klaus emotionally listed atrocity after atrocity. The slaughter of those who stood before him and the shooting of any that fled. The digging of mass graves by emaciated men only to have them shot in the back by gleeful soldiers who kicked their corpses in. The separation of babies from their mothers and the one soldier who stuck a bayonet, at his command, through an infant and laughed as the hysterical mother fell to the ground in grief. She was then shot. The gruesome medical experiments on the living. The smell of the smoke billowing from the chambers that all went in but none returned. The screams and pleas for mercy. Of he and his staff cowardly fleeing when the camp was liberated.

When he was done, he stared intently through red eyes at Anna. She was stunned. They sat in silence until she spoke.

“Feel better?” she asked. “Because I sure don’t. Thank you confirming everything my grandparents told me about you fuckers.”“I feel a small weight has been lifted from my shoulders. But no, I do not feel better. I am cursed by these memories whether I share them with the world or only one person. Cursed for eternity.”
“Eternity? How so?”
“Anna, you said earlier that you guessed my age to be about 90.”
“Yes.”
“I’m actually 109 years old.” He watched her intently as he said it.
“Come again?”
“When I fled Germany, when the Americans rolled in to liberate Auschwitz, I was a senior officer of 38 years old.”
“Klaus, if this is correct, you are one of the oldest men alive. Does the Senior Center know this?”
“No, no. In addition to a false name, I provided a false birth certificate. I don’t want to draw attention to myself.”
“Why not?”
“Because then they will track me until I am 110, 115, even 120.”
“Bullshit, Klaus. You’ll never make those ages.”
“I will if you don’t use this.” He pushed the Luger across the table. “You see, I can’t die of natural causes.”
“How do you know?”
“Because at 109 I have never even been sick with a cold. Not since the war. I believe that I am cursed to walk this earth forever bearing the sins of my past.”
Anna sat back in her chair.
“You’ve had this gun all along. Why not use it?”
“Because I’m a coward. I can’t pull that, or any trigger ever again.”
“Yeah, you’re not so tough without the evil midget with half a moustache pulling your puppet strings.”
“That’s a fair assessment. But off topic. Will you kill me or not?” he said flatly.
“Can I think about it? This has been quite an experience and it’s a lot to process. It’s not as if you’re asking me to do your shopping.”
“Of course.” he said. “Tomorrow, then?”
“I’ll tell you when I’m ready. Don’t call me.”

He nodded in silent agreement.

Anna excused herself and left.

That evening, Klaus woke to a commotion in his backyard. He looked out his window and saw someone working to a portable spotlight. He put on his robe and slippers, went down the hall, out the front door and made his way around the back of the house. There he found Anna, leaning on a shovel.“What is this, Anna?” he looked at her quizzically.
With a blank face she looked at him through the erratic beam of the work light.
“Here, put this on.” She handed him a bandana.
“Pardon?”
“Cover your eyes.”
“I will not.”
“Then I will hit you upside the head with this shovel and then put it on for you.”

He did as instructed.

She led him by the hand to where she was working. Klaus raised his hand to his face, lifted his bandana slightly and saw before him a shallow pit. She pushed the bandana down again.“Again. What is this?” he asked.
“Klaus Messerschmidt, you speak of your actions but you show only a small trace of remorse. You mostly speak of what it has done to you but hardly acknowledge the pain you have caused others. You then ask me to shoot you in order to ease your pain. But I have decided I don’t want to do that.”
“Well then, what do you plan on doing?” he inquired of the dark night.

Silence.

She kicked him from behind into the ditch. He fell awkwardly, landing face down. She began to shovel dirt onto him.

“Please, Please,” he pleaded. “Not like this!”
|“Yes, exactly like this. You don’t get the luxury of being shot in the head as your helpless victims did. You’re going to feel this.”
“Please no, this is not what I meant.”
“Klaus, do you know what I do for work?”
“No, I don’t.”
“I’m a Scientist. I test theories for a living.”
“What possible theory could you possibly be testing?” he cried out.
“Yours.” She savored the moment. “You claim you cannot die of natural causes. I want to test that theory. Suffocation is a natural cause. I’m going to bury you alive.”
“Please, I beg you. Just shoot me.”
“Again, it’s all about you and your pain, Klaus. I have my own and I now am obligated to carry that of your victims.”

Klaus was crying into the dirt. She listened for a few moments.

“If you can indeed die of natural causes, then this will kill you and your justice will be served.” She began shoveling more dirt on him. “If you can’t then you will lie awake in this shallow grave for eternity, and then justice for your victims will also be served.”
She shoveled more dirt on him. The cries for mercy became softer and more muffled with each spade of earth.

When she was done she collected her tools and her light. She took a few steps on the earthen grave of Klaus Messerschmidt, War Criminal, AKA Klaus Schmidt to pat it down.
“Has the screaming stopped, Klaus?”

No answer.

She gathered her tools and walked out of the back yard and down the walkway.

Looking back, she decided, as she loaded her trunk, that she would check on him tomorrow.

As she got into the driver’s seat of her car she decided that she also may not check on him at all.

She drove off.

Rest well, my Brother

“The roll of the workmen has been called, and one worker has failed to report”.

I dutifully hung my head as the familiar dialogue of a Masonic Funeral was read. I’d been in many Masonic funerals in my years as a Freemason. It is a beautiful ceremony, the same one performed for George Washington, and a show of respect for the fallen brother and a glimpse for the family into the ways of the fraternity the brother’s family never saw. They always make me sad, but this one really hurt.

This brother was also a very close friend whose loss I know I will feel for a very long time.

I first saw Adam from across the room at a meeting. The first thing I noticed about him was the absurdly round face. I observed that he was heavy, but his face was bloated beyond that. When he stood up I could see that he was in pain. This man had a story to tell.

As the room cleared at the end of the meeting I saw the small crowd gathered around him. Handshakes, hugs and greetings abounded, it was obvious that he was a beloved member of the lodge. I made a goal of getting to know him.

During cocktail hour I walked across the room and introduced myself. Never one afraid to approach a stranger, I stuck out my hand.

“Greetings, Brother. My name is Bill”. He stuck his hand out, “Adam.”
And thus began a beautiful friendship.

Adam had joined Freemasonry at the suggestion of his father. It was suggested that he would make friends, enjoy the fraternal bond, if nothing else to have something to do to get his mind off of his problems. He had many, chief among them being a Cancer survivor.

Adam was diagnosed at the age of 30 with Mantle Cell Lymphoma, a highly aggressive cancer with a very low survival rate. Newly married, with a flourishing career and a young son, his life came crashing down. He survived, thanks to the wonderful gift of a bone-marrow transplant from his brother. It was an agonizing, extremely painful surgery for both, but his family continued to make every sacrifice they could for him.

A year later, Adam was living with his parents, sleeping in his childhood bedroom, a mountain of prescription bottles at his bedside. Divorced and friendless because his wife couldn’t handle his illness and his friends stopped calling him. Seeing his son every other weekend was the only glimmer of hope for him, he would tell me one day, keeping him from taking his own life.

I learned part of his story from mutual friends before he and I actually spoke of his travails. As our friendship blossomed he gladly told me the rest. Over lunches, cocktail hours at the lodge (his lodge, that I joined to spend more time with him) and hanging at his house he would tell me the stories about the events that led him to this point.

He was grateful for his new friends and humbled by the support of his new brethren. His father had been correct. His father was a 50 year Mason when Adam entered the fraternity and his father was enormously proud. His mother proudly beamed at the results his new circle had created for him. I vowed to be one of the best friends he would have.

Adam didn’t just take friendship, he gave it back. When he learned of my health issues he became one of my biggest advocates. He spent time at home on his computer researching possible treatments being developed, texting me his findings and always checking in to see if I was eating right, taking my meds, or just to see how I was doing. It isn’t lost on me to this day how someone who felt like garbage almost every day could manage to check up on me, and all of his friends for that matter, to see how we are. He was a special friend.

In the course of our friendship Adam had a rollercoaster of health challenges. On a flight to St. Louis he contracted a virus that caused him to spend 7 weeks in the hospital. He almost died, but he pulled out of it. He had two knee replacements, a hip replacement, a pacemaker and was hit by two more staph infections, one that required removal of both knee replacments. At the end of all of it, there he sat with his absurdly swollen face, a result of a massive amount of steroids and other medications. He was a fighter like no other I have never met. As his Facebook announced another setback, myself and all of his friends had faith that the tough sonofabitch would bounce back and smile that huge smile again.

This past December, Adam met a foe he couldn’t overcome. Another staph infection that the Doctors, despite their Herculean efforts, could not pull him out of. He was forced into a medically induced Coma at the end of January.

I found out too late, for some reason his father’s FB wasn’t showing on my newsfeed and by the time I knew it was too late to visit him. Had I been sitting next to him he wouldn’t know I was there. All of my prayers from afar wouldn’t change it. His parents thanked me for my friendship and support, I knew in their voices they had given up this time.

He died a few days ago.

I miss my friend. I regret not being able to thank him for his unwavering friendship and his eternal optimism. His selflessness in the face of adversity that would cause so many to wallow in a pool of self-pity. He was an amazing human being.

As I stood silently in a moment of prayer, I was flanked by dozens of brothers who knew Adam as I did. We all knew his family. We all knew the efforts he made for our lodge as he took different assignments to keep himself productive, a concept that meant the world to him. We all knew what a loss we had experienced.

I waited patiently as the procession slowly entered the funeral parlor, each waiting our turn to place a sprig of evergreen, a masonic symbol of the eternity of life, on his simple coffin. A rare tear fell onto my cheek, one of many that would fall that evening.

He is resting now, his pain is gone. The irony of it is that the cure for his disease killed him. If he were here right now he would laugh at that line, we shared a morbid sense of humor. Sharing the burden of Chronic Illness, we knew that laughter is the best medicine. I want to laugh at the funny exchanges we had over the years. I can still see his big, round face that initially caught my attention. The smile that shone through some tremendous sadness, the face of a truly great person.

Rest well my friend, I hope to see you again someday in the Celestial Lodge above that we, as mere mortals hope to achieve at the end of our journey.

talking to Granite

I never thought I would be the guy to sit in a cemetery and talk to a piece of granite. I have lost many, too many, friends and family and I always make my visits to their places of rest. But I don’t sit and talk. That changed when I lost my Dad.

Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of his death. I wasn’t in the mood to write yesterday, it’s a tough day for me. Living in a house that he built doesn’t help. I see his touch everywhere in the woodworking, design, and collectibles. As I write this I’m sitting in his favorite chair with his beloved dog sleeping at my feet.

5 years later I still tear up when I think of him and when I attempt to talk about him I invariably choke up. I have been fortunate to have been asked to speak at some events I am a part of and have foolishly attempted to speak of my father and consequently blubbered in front of packed rooms. Historically, I am not a crier. But when it comes to Dad I can’t control it.

As a guy with a long family tradition of “sucking it up and moving on” I am puzzled why it is not getting easier as the years pass. Time heals all wounds, but it doesn’t fill all voids. His loss occurred at a time in my life I probably needed him the most. I was finally coming around to understanding the things he said. Things that I rejected in my youth that I later learned he was dead on about. I had just started to appreciate his simplistic approach to life; be nice to people, tell the truth and work hard and the rest will come. I had just started to recognize that people with his value system and work ethic were slowly vanishing and his presence was a treasure. I was at a point when I needed his eternal optimism to fuel me as I entered the worst chapter of my life. He was minimalism at its finest…less is more. Less showboating, less ego, less drama, and aggravation.

I miss him. The world was a better place with him in it. He deserved better. He worked so hard for so many years to provide for his family and build a retirement. He retired early because his co-workers were all dying young. He enjoyed about 3 years before Parkinson’s reared its ugly head. It reduced a strong, proud man to a mere shell in a long 8 years. Those years took more than his mobility, they took his pride and his independence. Death was a relief for him, I saw his face when he took his last breath.

My life has been especially challenging lately. I am trying to maintain the family optimism and positivity. It’s getting harder. I wish I still had him telling me that everything is going to work out. I suppose while I’m wishing for things I wish that he could have enjoyed his retirement. I wish that he could have celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary. I wish I could tell him how many things he was right about.

I wish that I didn’t have to tell a granite slab things that I wanted to tell him to his face.

Tell the people in your life how you feel about them today, don’t wait. Tomorrow is not a guarantee. You may find yourself sitting in a cemetery talking to granite also. If you’re reading this it’s because I chose to share it with you. Because I care about you and I won’t wait until it’s too late to tell you. Regret is as eternal as granite.

Right place, right time

I can’t help but notice that lately, I have found myself in exactly the right place at the right time.

Last weekend, at Wal-Mart, I was walking in the right place when a young boy broke free from his mother’s clutch in the parking lot.  I took two steps and grabbed him by the arm before he made it into the path of traffic. The mother gave me a breathless Thank you and I tipped my beloved Red Sox Scalli Cap at her and went on my way.

Yesterday I was at the Supermarket and I noticed a sweet old lady staring helplessly at an item on the top shelf. I knew she wanted it, I knew she wouldn’t ask for help and I also knew no one was going to even if she did. I approached her, asked if she would like some help and retrieved the item for her. She was so grateful, it’s sad that the world has come to this. Then, one aisle over, a very short mother with two toddlers caused an accidental avalanche of cereal boxes by reaching and I caught several boxes before they hit her on the head.

None of these things were too out of the ordinary, but they were bunched pretty tightly together. As I tend to do, I was reminded of a memory, a time when being in the right place at the right time became a day that I will never forget. One that also, for the first time, convinced me that my Dad may have been right when he told me that everything happens for a reason.

After my Kidney Transplant in 2011, I chose to join the Fraternity of Freemasonry. It was something that I had always thought about as a younger man. It started as far back as my Great Uncle Cyrus’s funeral. He was a wonderful man that just lived too far away so I barely knew him as a child. We exchanged letters and my Grandmother said that he was quite fond of me despite our few meetings.

In 1981 Cyrus passed away. My Mom, Dad, Grandparents and I made the trek to clean out his stately house on the coast of Cape Cod. It took the whole weekend to dig through his belongings and it would conclude with the reading of his last will and testament. I don’t remember everything about it but I do remember when the attorney announced that I was to receive his late wife’s car, a 65 Ford Falcon ( a real gem that I had for years). The other standout from that day was my the dismayed look on my Grandmother’s face as a seemingly endless list of $5000.00 donations to various institutions and charities was read. It was money that she thought she would get as the Executrix of his will. I would later find out that those donations were made in the name of Freemasonry, the oldest and most honorable fraternity in the world. I was intrigued, to say the least.

In 2012 I was consumed with the desire to “pay it forward” after a wonderful person stepped out of the shadows and gave me a life-saving organ transplant. I decided that it was the perfect time to look into Freemasonry, to honor my Great Uncle and better myself. You may have heard that Freemasonry, or Masonry, is highly secretive. To a degree that is true. We have some. But it is no secret that men join to become better men; better husbands, fathers, brothers, friends etc.,. they are known to do this through those things which are larger than oneself. Charity chief among them.

I applied, petitioned for membership and in February, a date that I hoped my father would live to see (he died the previous December), I became a Master Mason. It was the beginning of my journey to being a better person and I had a fire in my belly.

That very February I learned about a Masonic program called the “HELP” program. It is created by, managed and operated exclusively by Masons, all of which are unpaid volunteers. It is an incredible program, we collect donated medical equipment and supplies from families who have either lost a relative or recuperated from a serious illness. It is a program spread by word-of-mouth only and is free to the public for as long as they need it. I knew that I had to check it out so I signed up to volunteer the following Saturday morning.

The local chapter of the Help program was in the parking lot of a local Masonic lodge where they worked out of locked storage containers. We were fortunate to have an unseasonably warm day for February. It wasn’t hard to imagine how unpleasant it must have been on cold, wintry days. Being my first day, I knew nothing about what to do other than signing in. So I took the opportunity to survey the equipment they had to offer. I was actually amazed at the number of motorized beds, mattresses. walkers, commodes, adult diapers and therapeutic equipment available to the public. I was also quite impressed with the amount of fellow Masons, or Brothers as we call each other, toiling away repairing and cleaning equipment and preparing for the rush. As the Newbie, I just sat back and watched.

It wasn’t long before “the rush” began. Cars filled the parking lot and people were milling about looking at the equipment. I was standing awkwardly at the back when a woman walked up to me and abruptly asked me if I “worked here”. I quickly replied that I was a volunteer but I would be glad to help her. To be honest, at first impression I didn’t like her. She was abrupt, seemed impatient and she violated my cardinal rule, she didn’t say hello to me. Fortunately, I quickly reminded myself where I was and why people came here. They had a very ill person to care for. I gave her my full attention.

She truly had no idea what she needed and after aimlessly dragging me around she admitted it. I inquired of her who was sick and the condition. To my amazement, she answered that it was her father, 74, who was in the advanced phase of Parkinson’s disease. I was floored. Just 2 months before I had lost my father, at 74, to Parkinson’s. I became emotional but I adhered to the task at hand. I began to show her all of the equipment that we had available that would make caring for her father easier. I got her a walker, a commode. a lift that helps get a person out of bed and many more items. We spent over an hour picking the items out and talking about our dads.

After we “checked out” all of the equipment I walked to her van to help her load everything into her car. As I was lifting one of the heavier items she asked me why I (we) do this. I explained to her that Masons are a charitable group and we, by definition help people. She asked me if I was here every Saturday. I explained that it was entirely up to me how often I volunteered. She looked me in the eye and asked me,

“What are the odds that you and I would pick this Saturday and that I would end up asking you, perhaps the best person ever to help me out, for help?”

“I think this is a moment that was meant to happen. I sincerely hope that it will be of assistance to your father.”

She smiled, reached in and hugged me (catching me completely by surprise) and walked around her car to get in. As she ducked out of sight into her seat she smiled again. It was a sad smile, almost forced through a face heavy with sadness, but it was one I will never forget.

There were many lessons learned that day but the predominant theme was that it was an incredible case of “right place, right time.”

And it is a tough act to follow.

 

Where’s the Grief?

Today I attended a memorial service for a man that I never met. I know his widow, she is a dear friend of my Mother’s. I know that he was a good friend of my father, that matters to me. I also know that he died of Parkinson’s, as did my father. What a terrible thing to have in common.

The church was packed when I arrived today. The bells of the 180-year-old church clanged, reverberating through our little town as I walked in.
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Just in time. On any given Sunday I could walk in and find a seat in the third row. For today’s memorial, with friends and family coming from all over in addition to the regulars, seating was limited and I ended up in the back row.

After the Reverend delivered his opening remarks and I suffered through 2 hymns and a responsive reading the first speaker, the oldest son, was invited to say some words about his deceased father. My first reaction was the admiration of his courage. He was attempting what I would not. I remember wanting badly to deliver my father’s eulogy but I was self-aware enough to know that I wouldn’t get through it, I would get too emotional. I wrote it, my Reverend read it on my behalf, and I sat there and cried. At words that I wrote. Pathetic. But I can only imagine the train wreck I would have been if I attempted to do it. So with great sympathy, a sense of kinship with a man I had never met for what we now had in common, and a curious ear, I listened to his remarks. It was a touching speech, he used a lot of big words, he referenced a lot of things that he admired about his Dad, what he learned from him and how they were different. Something just didn’t sit well with me, something was missing. May I be struck dead by lightning if I’m a shit for thinking this but, where was the emotion? Have I set the bar so high in my own mind about eulogizing fathers that I am actually grading his performance? Shaking my head and quietly dismissing that crazy notion I still don’t know why it bothers me that this guy didn’t cry or tear up a little.
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My mother cared for my father as Parkinson’s ravaged his body and reduced him to a withered shell. The last 3 years were awful. My mother didn’t cry that much at the funeral, but she’s not a crier. We are a family of “bottle-it-up-and-snap-someday” personalities. When she began dating a mere 6 months after his death I struggled with it. When I asked her how she could date so soon she said that she did her mourning while he was still alive. That his passing was expected and just the final step. I don’t get it but it’s her process. With this in mind, I waited patiently in line to pay my regards to the family and when I met him I congratulated him on his remarks. I mentioned that his dad and my dad were friends and both had the same disease. He gave me a big smiley thank you, which threw me off, and I asked him how he was able to deliver it without breaking down. I was clear that it wasn’t a criticism, only that I could never have done it without breaking down. He didn’t have an answer. Maybe Mom was right. He watched his father suffer for years so maybe he was just ready for it. But, here’s the kicker, so did I. And I was still an emotional, blubbering mess when my father died.

The first time I discovered my fear of speaking in public was at my Grandfather’s funeral in 2002. I offered to write his eulogy and I really made an effort to capture the man. He was 92 so I celebrated his life and spoke of some fond memories. As I spoke I was sad of course, he was a major influence on me, but as I said, he was 92. I focused on his best traits. His wicked sense of humor, his honesty, and integrity, his simple way of life were well known and celebrated. Still, I barely got through it, I broke down. The small crowd didn’t care, their takeaway was how much like him I was (an indisputable truth). It was a learning experience.

When my dad passed I knew that I would be the one to memorialize him. As I stated earlier, I wrote a long eulogy, perhaps too long, about his influence on me, his defining qualities of being a great friend, co-worker, dad, husband. I spared nothing, as I do in my blog, telling of my regrets at things left unsaid and how he simply deserved better. It brought the house down. As people filed past me, one even said, in tears, “I have to go and call my father now.” Moved and grateful as I was, I didn’t have a big smile on my face. I was a wreck. I didn’t want kudos on my speech, I wanted my father back.

Now I sit here and wonder if the son, the man who gave a beautiful but emotionless speech, had the same experiences I did? The ones that you would never talk about in a memorial because people don’t want to hear it.

I wonder if he ever heard his father cry because he knew, that no matter how hard he tried to hang on, he wouldn’t be around to celebrate his next wedding anniversary with his lifelong sweetheart? They were married 49 years.

I wonder if he ever saw his father on the toilet, unable to wipe himself and too weak to stand, trying (he could barely speak) to get me to get his caretaker to wipe his ass because he did not want me to see him like that?

I wonder if his father ever pulled him close and in a forced whisper say, “Gun…key” in his ear, imploring him to go downstairs, find the key to the cabinet, get a gun and let him fucking end it?

I wonder if he has loose ends, things he wanted to say but couldn’t, or didn’t. Apologies or thank you’s?

I wonder if he is haunted by feeding the man who taught him to use a spoon, his dinner through one?

I wonder if he wants to scream at the top of his lungs “Fuck YOU Parkinson’s” like I do. Every day.

I wonder if it’s just me. Maybe I’m just being a jerk. We all grieve differently and we all handle things differently. His father died a week ago, I lost mine 5 years ago. Why am I the emotional one?