At the Blue Note Coffeehouse, I hope for a pleasant distraction on a somber day. Finding a window seat, I gaze at the passersby, savoring some delicious coffee while listening to Miles, Coltrane, and Cannonball Adderley.
My thoughts drift like the aromatic fragrance of java, a Miles Davis trumpet that seems to have no beginning or end, just a meditative middle. The music in the background changes from fast to slow, familiar to foreign. Jazz makes me want to go on forever.
I watch the customers grab their cappuccinos and pay little attention to the jazz playing in the background…
Last Sunday afternoon, my grandson Allen came for a visit. He wasn’t in the door two seconds before griping about how lousy my neighborhood was. I ignored him while I sat on my crusty recliner, turning up the volume on the TV.
“You’re wasting your time trying to convince me to go into a nursing home. Your ole Grandpa George ain't goin’ nowhere.”
“Trust me, Grandpa. You’ll thank me for getting you out of this dump. It will be like living in Club Med compared to this rat hole.”
“Keep dreamin’, Allen.”
“You won’t have to lift a finger. They’ll…
It was hard work that defined him,
a man with a mechanical aptitude,
possessing blue collar wisdom,
knew how to put things together,
plan and calculate his next endeavor
A trailer-park Einstein with a mathematical mind
laying linoleum on my bedroom floor,
trimming the edges with a straight razor,
getting glue on his stubby fingers,
hammering nails with precision,
making sure the nuts and bolts
were all accounted for
I see my father rising in the morning, wearing work boots and a pair of Wranglers, measuring a six-foot square, sanding down a two by four, making sure it’s level, rolling…
When I looked into the casket, I saw my uncle’s drunken and pathetic soul. A man who often laid face-down on the pavement after stumbling out of a bar. He listened to country music and related to Merle Haggard, another old codger whose life was one big pot of trouble. He had a woodgrain clock radio in his office, and whenever a Haggard song came on, he’d stand up and mouth the words.
Uncle Leo owned a produce warehouse in Pottsville, a backward hick town in the heart of Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal region. The city was famous for Yuengling beer…