What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gosling; Rarely

wrong Gosling...

“the Man that will make such an execrable Pun as that in my Company, will pick my Pocket”
–John Dennis according to an epistle written by Benjamin Victor in 1722

2 a.m. came with the caterwauling of two geese. I’m guessing the noise was a result of a fight they were having with a Bremerton raccoon. The prize for said was their eggs. I’m certain they lost, the geese. This is the nature of a Bremerton raccoon, they are not long on loss. They fight pit-bulls and Rottweilers for trash-can scrap lunch, in fenced yards, like a backyard cage-match. And they win. And this morning, a Sunday morning, we are deep into spring. Being on the business-end of Memorial Day weekend, I imagine that this time of year marks the salad days for the Bremerton raccoon.

Brief Aside: I’m not comfortable with the spelling of the word: raccoon. And I have no idea how to spell: brief, without the crutch of spell-check. I didn’t realize this until the raccoon became an integral character in this story. I am 43 fucking years old. My Vest Pocket Dictionary, prepared by the folks at Webster, is of little help. It does contain the word: rabid which is not ironic but it does strike me as counter-intuitive for reasons of comedy. Brief-adjacent, let’s move on.

The caterwauling was desperate but also a bit resolved to the idea that the geese were on the losing end of a battle for the survival of their line. They only get one shot a year. And they generally nest in the same spot every year. They’re territorial that way. And the blackberry bushes along the shore of The Port Washington Narrows are not easily protected from hungry raccoons. The geese lose this fight more often than not.

Maybe these are all clues to the ignorance of anthropomorphizing the geese and their actions, or lack thereof. But it must feel terrible to be so helpless in protecting one’s young. I would be terrified.
And isn’t all great parenting predicated, nay, motivated by fear? No? Okay…

When I was young, I can’t pinpoint the age exactly, but I remember the place, I was abused by a caretaker. Using the term caretaker in this context is both ironic and counter-intuitive. I’m aware.

Aside: I’ve tried to write about this abuse before. Several times. This is the point where I always lock up. I have countless unfinished drafts of this story. They all conclude with the previous paragraph…

…26 minutes pass as I watch the cursor blink at me disapprovingly…my stomach hurts.

The abuse wasn’t at the hands of my parents nor were they to blame. But when the events came to light and the dust had settled, it felt like I was being blamed. If not blamed per-se, I was never assured by my folks that it was not my fault. My entire life I’ve owned a portion of the responsibility for that violation. I still hoard some of it…jealously…

But this morning, in the cries of two roughly evolved dinosaurs, I heard the fear of my parents. The fear that I possess as a parent. The anxiety that these things happen, that some things can only be prevented in hind-sight with a DeLorean. I heard the cries of generations as they digest the horror that some predators cannot be stopped, that some bells cannot be unrung, and some eggs cannot be uncracked. Indeed, in a cruel world where: “you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet” is a platitude, the cries of the geese were probably an annoyance to my neighbors as they were trying to convalesce from drinking heroic amounts of alcohol in celebration of remembering. But for me it was a moment of Zen. I was also recovering. My convalescing is quicker as I drink like a hero every day. A simple hangover was no match for my instant of clarity.

I am not protecting my kids reliably…

That was 2 a.m., it is now 5a.m. and the sun is up in earnest and people are moving. And I am tired. The kind of tired that sleep is powerless to remedy. I’m tired of struggle of survival of caretakers and geese and raccoons and eggs and omelets and kids and parents and cruelty and platitude. My fear is that rest is countless miles from where I sit. Miles not counted by my own weariness but by the blood and sweat that life requires of me, of us all. We got quotas to fill, kid…

But: for now…I’ll try…

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George and Charleen

My mom and dad

My mom and dad

“We never know the love of a parent till we become parents ourselves.” –Henry Ward Beecher

In June of 1973 I was born to two people whom I love dearly.  This was to be the beginning of two of the most complicated relationships I have had to date, though none of us knew it at the time.

My parents were married on January 8th, 1972…Elvis’ birthday…or the day he died?  At any rate, Elvis reminds me of parents’ anniversary every year.  Elvis is good for little else.

I’ve never understood what drew my folks to one another.  One might read that last line and think that I am being ungrateful or indelicate, but allow me to be clear: I am so thankful for my parents, for giving me life, and providing me with a stability at home that some never enjoy.  Regardless how tough times got, my brothers and I always knew we had a warm place to live, meals to eat, and parents who loved us to their best understanding of the concept.  I only mean I’ve never understood their attraction, they’ve always seemed so different to me.  It must have been something strong because they’re still together to this day.  I have come to learn that that kind of commitment renders all hair-splitting moot.

My mom was born into a stable family.  She came late.  Her brothers and sisters were all but grown.  Her oldest niece was only one year my mother’s junior.  She was, what is known (at least in polite society) as, a change of life baby.  Mom relayed to me that this made her childhood home a very loving and secure environment.  There was never a lack of care providers between her brothers and sisters.  I believe they numbered 2 boys and 2 girls.  I’ve only met them a few times in my life, and they all seem like good, solid citizens.  As idyllic as this set-up would seem to the casual observer, it was by no means perfect.  My mother has never complained about her childhood (that I can recall), but she has said that there was an unspoken expectation to “perform”, to put the best foot forward, to fake it ’till you make it.  When I imagine the circumstances that led to my folks’ commitment to one another, I am tempted to wonder if that pressure pushed my mom toward the young trouble-maker she’d one day marry.

My dad was the oldest born son in a family that would eventually include 2 more boys and 5 girls (I think)…he was not the oldest of his siblings, he had an older sister.  I think, if one were to consult his druthers, he would like to have been born first…regardless the sacrifice.  To hear stories of dad’s youth one might think that, in a town so small, populated with so many ne’er do wells engaged in varying makings of consternation (in the estimation of local law enforcement), a deal had once been struck between the town’s founders and the devil himself.  The specific impetus for my father’s assholery is far less mysterious (my dad considers himself proudly among the ne’er do wells).  He had a need for attention that his folks were either unable or unwilling to satiate in any way that resembled: healthy.  I’ve had a few occasions to meet his parents and I can report, with confidence, that my childhood was a lot more loving than my dad’s.

As though God wanted to give us more evidence of his faithfulness…and his sense of humor, my folks found each other and made a family.  They made a difference.  They are partially to blame for who I am.  My dad’s strong work ethic, my mom’s stubbornness, my mom’s optimism, my dad’s realism, my mom’s sense of justice, my dad’s willingness to help whomever, whenever, wherever (with only the tiniest bit of complaining [generally])–all of these attributes conspired to be the foundation of the man that I am…for good, or ill.  They’re not just responsible for me and my family.  They’re also culpable (at least part so) for my 2 younger brothers who’ve made great families in their own right.  This all because two lunatics were crazy enough to think they could make a run at: “till death do us part”.  It’s hard to imagine.  But if imagining it were easy, there’d be no reason left to try it.

Happy Anniversary George and Charleen.