Nathan’s Private E-Journal, April 12th, 2014 – “Fathers and Sons”

I was making my way back to “The Crypt”, after having visited my family’s plot tonight.  Everything was just as I’d left it a few months ago.  Except for the weeds which I made short work of.  And of course the flowers needed a little freshening up, so I circled the graves and released some of my green mist, which brought them back into a healthy bloom.  

Went inside the mansion briefly because I thought I saw a figure at one of the windows.  A small figure… holding a… never mind.  I didn’t find anyone inside, so I headed back towards town.

Naturally, my thoughts drifted to the days of my youth, before I left for the war.  Unfortunately, not all my memories were happy ones.  Mind you I have a lot of good memories, but there are a few involving my father that still sting from time to time.  He loved me, of that I have no doubts.  Heaven knows he told me and showed me enough times, but there were some days when I could see and sense his disappointment in me.  I wasn’t always the son he really wanted me to be, but I had limitations that he couldn’t understand at the time.  Of course, I no longer suffer those problems these days, but it would’ve been nice to let him see how far I’d come.

I had just reached the downtown area of Pointer, when I spotted a figure carrying a guitar case I knew only too well.  It was young Teddy and he was looking pretty down as he walked.  Concerned I started to quicken my pace, only to be passed by a car which pulled up next to my young friend.  Immediately, a man got out of the car and started scolding my young friend rather vociferously. 

Even though they’re a fair distance from where I’m standing, my hearing is exceptionally keen and I hear everything as if I was standing right there with them.

“I told you it could wait until tomorrow,” the older man says in a very annoyed voice.  “But, no, you have to make a scene.”

“You were already making a scene by yelling at me in front of everyone, Dad!” Ted shot back.

I wince at that.  Family arguments have never been my favorite thing to walk in on, much less be a part of.  I consider taking a different route home at that point but then Ted’s father says, “I told you not bother with getting a guitar months ago.  It’s not going to win you any scholarships for college.  Now if you’d get into football like I keep telling you…””Dad I’ve got Fibromyalgia, I don’t have the…”

“That’s a made up thing, and even if it was real, only girls and women get it,” his father yells, cutting him off.

That tore it for me.  Suddenly, the scenery on either side of me blurs and in the blink of an eye I find myself standing next Ted and his father.  

Luckily the two are so focused on each other neither even notice that I’ve suddenly appeared on the scene.  “Good evening, gentlemen,” I say clearing my throat meaningfully to get their attention.

Ted reacts first.  “Oh, hello, Mr. Backman.  I was just coming to return the guitar you loaned me,” he says in a quiet voice.

“Whatever for?  Don’t tell me you’ve given up playing?  You’re really good,” I tell him, mainly because it’s true.  But I also know what playing music does for him.  It gives him a way of forgetting about his Fibromyalgia for a while.  Everyone who fights a daily battle like his needs a coping mechanism and I don’t want to see him lose this particular one.

“He’s not going to have time to be playing music,” his father replies, before Ted can speak.  “I appreciate the fact that you let him practice with that thing, but it’s not helping.”

“Not helping?” I repeat curiously.  “From what Ted has told me in the past, it helps him deal with his condition…”

“He doesn’t have a condition, he’s just too lazy and delicate,” his father cuts in again.

I nod and reply, “It’s my understanding he has Fibromyalgia.  Is that not the case?”

“Fibromyalgia, if it exists at all…”

“For crying out loud, Dad.  Mom has it, you said so yourself,” Ted exclaims.  

“Of course she has, but it’s a condition women get, not men!” his father explodes. 

“I have it,” I say quietly. “In fact I’ve had it all my life, even when I was little.  Growing pains they called it.  Told me I’d grow out of it, but I never did.  It’s been my constant companion every day of my life.”

Ted’s father studies me for a moment and then says, “You don’t look like your sick or in any pain.”

“Looks can be deceiving,” I reply cryptically and take a step towards him.

****TO BE CONTINUED****

Lisa’s Private Thoughts July 4th, 20–

Happy 4th of July Everyone!

Tonight’s fireworks display was spectacular as always.  I have to say here in Pointer we know how to party.  There was a huge barbecue in the park as always where most of the families converged.  Marisa, me and a few others like Teddy had blast.  There was the annual softball game, frisbees flying everywhere, and the traditional water balloon toss.  And as per usual, the waterballoon game turned into an all out water pistol fight thanks to ‘certain’ individuals who’s name begins and ends with the letter N.  Naturally, Uncle Nathan denies the charges even though he was the one who handed me a couple of the water pistols himself claiming they were “Strictly for self-defense.”

He doesn’t realize I saw him pull another one out of his costume and nailed Marisa with it.  Then he had the nerve to tell her it was me who started it and then handed her a couple of weapons so she could get even.

Amazingly, he managed to stay dry the whole time.  I think it was the outfit that got him spared.

Dressing up like Richard Henry Lee, the representative from Virginia who first called for the colonies to break away from England during the Second Continental Congress, was a masterstroke.  No one had the heart to mess up his outfit.  Plus it allowed Uncle Nathan to disappear and reappear throughout the festivities as needed.  I know he had to keep hitting the red stuff in order to stay outside on a hot sunny day like this.  And of course, the guise allowed him to wander among all the families, including those who had no idea who or what he really was.  He does this sort of thing every time he spends the Fourth of July with us, which is like every other year.

After the great water battle ended, a bunch of us felt like cooling in the shade for a while and headed for the large canopy where Uncle Nate was relaxing.  His face was a bit red so I knew he’d just had another bag or two of blood, which meant he’d be good for another couple of hours.  By then the sun would be setting and things would cool off and he’d be all right.

Remembering he needed to ‘stay in character’ I asked, “Mr. Lee, how does this celebration compare to the ones that took place years ago?  Have they changed much?”

Smiling he began speaking, “Well, my dear, back in my day the morning would start with artillery fire, which woke up most of the town who hadn’t already been up.   Then there’d be some cannon and musket firing a little later and there would be a parade.  There’d be music, marching soldiers, and of course there would be speaker who’d gone on for about an hour or two.  Then the real fun began, at least for the men.  They’d head to a tavern while the women went home and took the children with them…”

At that point I had to butt in.  “Hold it, you’re saying the women went back to their drab daily lives while the guys partied?  Am I the only girl here who finds that offensive?”

A loud “NO” erupted from all around me, which pretty much included every mom who was present.

Undaunted, Uncle Nathan continued, “I quite agree ladies.  Which is probably why things started changing around the 1850’s.  Then the celebrations became more like what we have these days.  Oh there were still the parades, cannons, and muskets, but then most families would to on a picnic and watch the fireworks at night.”

Here he paused and glanced around at his audience which had grown considerably, “We’ve had fireworks since the very first celebration, for those who didn’t know.  And yes, we were careful not to burn down the entire town while doing it.  That’s another thing that hasn’t changed.  We were very proud of our accomplishment and how our country managed to hang in there and stay together.  Oh we’ve always had our differences of political opinion and what should and shouldn’t be allowed, but America has always managed to hang together.  And that’s because the people stuck together.  Here in West Virginia we fought to free people who had been denied their rights to be citizens because of skin color.  As a nation we later fought to keep aggressors from threatening our way of life and that of others overseas, not only once but on many occasions.  America was made up of immigrants and welcomed even more who brought many customs and ideas which became part of everyone’s life.  And we have to remember that.  Some people complain about others not learning how to speak, read, or write in English, but not everyone did when we first started out.  Some cannot learn because they’re too old or unwell and we have to make allowances for that and remember that none of our ancestors knew the native tongues of those who were living here before WE arrived.  But they were tolerant and tried to understand us because they knew some of us came to escape persecution.  In New York harbor there’s a very tall lady who still welcomes everyone who wants a chance at a better life or to escape some kind of threat.  Patience, tolerance and understanding is what she represents as well as a second chance at a better life. May we all remember that and try to live up to those promises.”

With that he raised a glass and wished us all a Happy Fourth of July and finished with “God Bless America and all who come to her shores.”  Once more everyone cheered and I thought, so this is what the 4th of July was like when he was a boy.  We had a parade, a bit of cannon fire, muskets, a huge picnic, comeraderie and now we’d had a speaker.  A speaker who managed to reach out to his audience and make us really think.  And in a few hours we’d have fireworks.   Yeah, this is what the 4th of July should be like.  Thanks Uncle Nathan.