Hope is the only good god remaining among mankind; the others have left and gone to Olympus. Trust, a mighty god has gone, Restraint has gone from men, and the Graces, my friend, have abandoned the earth.
I arrived in San Diego and went straight home to the condo on Balboa Park, only a mile from the airport, and I was immediately greeted by an eight year old girl who jumped up and hugged me and told me she was sorry my mommy had died. I held her tightly for a while.
I set her down and we chatted, and she gave me a shiny gold keychain with a cute little bootle opener built in. She had bought for me while I was gone, she said. And she missed me. I had missed her, too, I said, and I showed Granny’s gold watch and told her that “J” stood for Joy, a slight lie because Granny went by Joyce, but it was how I felt at that moment and therefore true to me, and I said I’d like her to have Joy’s watch. She beamed! and said it was beautiful, and she asked for my help in putting it on. As I helped, I realized that Mike was right.
As I had suspected, Granny’s watch fit her perfectly. She had never owned an analog watch. And though the battery had long since died, I showed her how to set the time; I looked my Rolex, still set to San Diego’s time, and I rotated the dial on her watch until the hands showed 2:20pm.
I told her one Uncle Bob’s jokes: even a broken watch is right twice a day.
She didn’t laugh, at first, either. I’m unsure if she understood the joke, but after I laughed she laughed with me, and that was fine.
I asked her what time it was, and she exclaimed, “Time to play!” and she was right, and we went outside and played in the park for a long while.
Later that evening, Cristi and I sat on our balcony overlooking Balboa Park, relaxing silently and appreciating the view across 3,800 acres of what we felt was our version of paradise, listening to palm leaves rustle and the subtle sound of Pacific ocean waves and the din of downtown traffic. “It really is America’s Finest City,” I said, mindlessly. “We’re lucky.”
She rested her hand on mine and practiced her right to remain silent. We said it so often that we liked to let the silence settle every now and again, so that we never take our lives for granted.
I finally felt like talking about the previous week, surprised that so much had happened and I had remembered so many things in such a short time days. I told her a few things that had happened, and that I was surprised about feeling jealousy for Mike’s happiness. I had thought the little boy inside of me was gone, but I was mistaken, and I wondered if that was healthy.
But, for then, I was avoiding telling her what I had mumbled on the banks of Thompson Creek, the parts about “Honor thy mother and father” and “Just be happy.” I hadn’t processed that time yet, and I didn’t want to speak prematurely. I’ve always taken a long time to understand things. And sometimes I speak without thinking and surprise myself, especially I’m tired. But, those words had been echoing in my mind ever since I mumbled them, and how to honor my mother and father had been one of the first, and last, things Cristi and I had discussed about religion decades ago. Back then, I said that if I ever quoted a spiritual text again, I would probably quip the Tao and say more words count less; usually. What I said must still have been on my mind, just like I had felt speaking with Mike. I wanted to think about that for a while before talking about it.
“I’d like to write that book,” I said.
I chuckled and said, “Wendy laugh if I called it ‘A Partin history.”
I smiled for a genuine, fleeting, blessed moment; Wendy knew my grandfather’s final words were: “No one will ever know my part in history.”
Cristi smiled and said I could talk about my small part in his story, and we laughed out loud together.
The she said, seriously, “I think it would help people. You’d regret it if you didn’t try.”
She was probably right, but I was too exhausted to reply.
“You could write it with Hope,” she said. I always did little projects with her, a way to spend quality time together and to co-learn whatever we were working on. I mumbled an agreement without really hearing what was said. I was more tired than I’ve ever been, before or after, and I wanted desperately to lie down in my own bed before I collapsed again.
“We’re lucky,” I mumbled.
My eyes were drooping and my breath was shallow and yet I somehow stood up and followed Cristi’s hand to bed, and I collapsed for the final time that week. I fell asleep immediately and slept peacefully and arose the next morning and began writing a book for posterity’s sake and dedicated to my mother, Wendy Anne Rothdram Partin.
Next Chapter is in progress; prototypes abound in The Blog.