Our Stories Intertwine Like a Kitten’s Yarn

Scribblings about my origins from over a decade ago, as an exchange between Patrick and myself.

Our stories intertwine like a kitten’s yarn. We tug on one piece and another emerges. No stories are more tightly interconnected, yet simultaneously isolated, than those tales of parent and child. So it is with my father and me, my bio-dad as it were. Together, then separated, then reconnected again thanks to the power of the internet and the wisdom of aging.

Patrick sent a thoughtful reply to my recent thoughts in which he said he’s sorry I learned about the circumstances of my beginnings.

My reply is that I’m glad that I know because it has given me a positive outlook on life, a recognition that by living on borrowed time, every day is a bonus, another surprise, and what I make of it is of my own choosing.

Yes, I’m frequently dark in my writing, drawn to the appeal of the macabre, the unexpected twist, but I also celebrate with joy many things: friendships and acquaintances; experiences; thrills; occasional small victories; satisfaction with jobs well done; educational challenges; and a myriad of other delights of life.

It’s a clich√© that I sometimes wear my heart on my sleeve, that I’m too open and too honest with you, the friends who read this, but part of that helps contribute to the experiences that you and I share together when we happen to meet, when we happen to play together at a rally or race track, or share dinner together at Cables or the White Elephant, or meet for lunch at Akio’s or Daphne’s.

I have had my dark and dangerous times. I have survived them and been strengthened by them. When I see the clouds in others’ eyes, I hope that the perspectives I can offer by sharing these stories will help them as well.

Herewith, with his permission, is my father’s narrative of the recounted episode, of the events that transpired before I lived, before I was, and why I am here today.

We were all of us lucky we got to Havana too late. Sorry you had to find out, since it seems to have had some troubling repercussions.

A couple of amendations, if I may:

It wasn’t a Cuban jocky, the statuette. It was a wood carving about 18 inches tall of Don Quijote. I had it with me as far as Missouri, when it was left in a friend’s barn, along with all my books and other personal belongings. I never saw them again. I liked that statue, which was a rendition of Quijote as a tall thin man with a pointed beard, musch like the one you have worn much of your adult life.

Obviously you were meant to tread the earth. I say this not only because of Cuba, but because on the way to Tampa to get the twin-engine Douglas aircraft to Havana, I fell asleep at the wheel of George S’s borrowed Chevy, and woke up in the middle of a grove of Georgia pines, two hundred yards from the highway. No one was hurt, though your mother was tossed about in the front seat, as was our poet friend David Wade, who was asleep in the back seat, cadging a ride to Bradenton to see his Mom. I was awakened by the sound of the horn blowing, as I had been slung forward against the steering wheel. So two near misses, and here you are, still lancing windmills.

You also don’t seem to remember that I tried to adopt the kids when you had been relegated to the orphanage, but I still have the telegram from your mother begging me not to do it, as she wanted to take care of you herself, I reckon for motherly love as well as opposition from her father.

We tried a couple of reunions, she and I, but it wasn’t to be, more’s the pity. By the second attempt, you were already in Hawaii, and it was quite a while before I saw you again, in the seventies, in Tampa.

I have a heap of regrets, maybe more than most my age, but have always been proud of the way you made your way in the world. You, like me, have invented yourself time and again, and both of us have lived outside the pale for much of our lives, and have sought to incorporate Art in one form or another into our destinies.

Patrick the Elder

P.S. If that name [George Sikorsky] rings a bell, his father invented the helicopter, or so he told us, in Russia. George had a photo of his father with the last Czar, receiving some sort of award. George was one of our best friends at FSU, and we lost touch after he married a widow and moved – I think to Sarasota.

P.P.S. Latest news: the opera of Coleridge-Taylor I have edited will have its premiere in London not in 2012, but in 2010. For me that is indeed good news. The composer died before he had a chance to hear it, and I would prefer that doesn’t happen to the editor, as you can well imagine.

Here is a portion of my reply to Patrick, the part that pertains to this tale.

Pappy: No worries at all. I don’t think there are troubling repercussions…. on the contrary, it means every day that I breathe is a bonus to be enjoyed. Yeah, sometimes I forget that, but I’m getting much better at getting out, having fun, staying alive.

If your Cuban trip had been successful, you and Donna would have been better off, but life is full of trade-offs, isn’t it?! I certainly don’t begrudge either the attempt or the final outcome.

I vaguely remember that Don Quijote statue. Is the friend’s barn still there? Wanna make a trip out to find it?

I first exchanged these notes (which began as a personal recording numbered 090307_101216_stories_intertwine.wma) with Patrick in March of 2009. I came across them today by happenstance while reviewing unrelated observations about difficulties at work from that time.