Thursday, August 30, 2007

I Could ...

... buy one of these Surly's and make it into a mountain bike. I think I will. I'll need a small one. And a single speed Phil Wood hub. Umm, and I think I need some rims. And spokes then. And stuff. And more stuff. That should make me feel better.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

John Francis Kielty

John Francis Kielty, born September 13, 1923, in Weston, Wisconson to Richard Patrick Kielty and Francis Vosberg; he died August 6, 2007, at 3:35 PM at the age of 83. John was married for 64 years to Ethel Francis Duchscher, on January 22nd, 1943 in Boston MA. He was a father of four. He was a good man.

As a Sailor in the Navy, he was part of the illustrious Task Force 16, also known as the Doolittle Raiders. They were the pilots, and seamen responsible for the first attack on the mainland of Japan just four months after Pearl Harbor. He was sunk on the Hornet (CV-8) at the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, he was at Iwo Jima on the Hancock, which lost two hundred men in a single kamakazi attack. He was a plankholder on the Lexington (I am sitting here looking at a piece of the floor of that boat). He was at the Marianas Turkey Shoot, he sailed into Tokyo at the end of WW2. I think he was in every major battle in the Pacific in World War II. He also served in the Korean War.

He taught electronics for the Navy in Monterey in the 50's. He was the only TV repairmen I ever knew whose TV never worked. He was a Little League coach, and president of the local Little League. (I thought) He invented T-Ball. He was an Indian Guide Leader. He taught Hunter Safety courses. He sold Amway. We hiked in the wilderness. He ran the Bay to Breakers (a 7 mile run across SF). He taught us all to revere the world -- but especially nature. He lived, we lived, he taught us to be proud. He taught us to work hard, and so did he. He was alive, and so were we. He was a good citizen.

He hit a hole-in-one.

He could be kind, and stubborn all at the same time, and often quite funny. He knocked out the chief of police of a neighboring community at my brother's wedding. Twice. He used to joke about us all meeting over at the (horse) race track bathroom to send his ashes out to sea by flushing them down the toilet. Endless stories will be told to recount the wit and humor of this man.

He is survived by his wife Ethel, children Jacqueline, Kevin and Shawn, grandchildren John, Dana, Molly, Danielle, Heidi, and William, and great-grand child Nicole, and his sister Mary Jane Flynn of Wausau, WI.

There will be the fifteen of us casting his ashes a sea -- On the following day there will be an open house at the Kielty home, starting at 1:00.

If you want to make a donation on his behalf; St. Judes would be a good choice.

In my life there's just a big hole where my father used to be.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Did You Bring the Flashlight, Pop?

This week ... has been about a month long. I am sure my father is dying, and dying a terminal death, and I am moving home again, being moved by the events, and there is a candid air about his impending doom that stills even the half full glass of water. I ponder Terry Tempest Williams' Refuge, and the dying of cancer, his slow agonizing passage, my own suddenly human failings, and a series of fateful character building experiences of my youth. He is the architect of my strength. It is a strength I need now, to find a path through a mysterious maze of frailty. Mine, my mother's, my father's. I look to him and I wonder. He is emaciated and weak, speaking now in a difficult slurry one can only describe as a divine language. He has some control of his arms and legs, and frequently reaches up to grab something that is clearly not there. He often talks of his pain and now that they have him tied down in his bed, I am sure -- of his torture. In the divine language. All bets are off.

Today as I helped a nurse lift him free of his chafing bonds, I realized just how far I was from the day we got lost in the Mokelumne Wilderness (then just a wayward forest) right at dusk, or the day I limited in pheasants -- or shot two Canadian geese at dusk while his father watched us from a great distance. My grandfather later asked my father if he had shot those birds, and my father quietly pointed at me, an unspoken acknowledgement that I had reached a certain level of savvy mad voodoo skills. A lineage of male "hunter" and outdoor skills, passed from father to son, over generations, rewarding Indian Guides, Cub Scouts, Eagle Scouts, Fisherman, Woodsmen, Hunters, Rivermen, Boatmen, men, with the art of survival. Survival in a seemingly male way. A simple box of hand-tied flies passed down to a grandson ... a goose call gift in a car driving in the middle of the night, hours making decoys from paper in the garage, starting a fire, freezing you asses off. Hiking 50 miles in three days with a crazy dog eating road apples. Serious survival.

Today, I was at the hospital, and really just trying to find a wheelchair to roll my mother down to the car. I walked up to someone sitting at a computer and asked where to find a wheelchair.

"I actually can't help you with that, I am the chaplain."

"That's a pretty good job if you can get it, if you're here, I mean." Flirting with her a little.

"Yeah, especially if you do what I do." She flirts with me. "Go down there and ask ..." Pointing.

I hope she's there tomorrow.

"Forgive me father for I have sinned," a rush of condemnation slams me from my childhood and adulthood. I have done so many things wrong, how will I ever get these few things right. You are now free to feel guilty. I hope she's there tomorrow.

It is a strange day and we are in an 11 foot boat in a large open stretch of delta with 5' tall rolling waves and we are at three-quarters and going with the waves. The boat is rocking hard and my brother and I are laughing, and the man at the helm is looking across at me and saying something like "Knock it off," while meaning "Tighten up the straps on you life jacket and hold on, this is not a good time for laughing."

Fair winds and following seas, my old friend. I hope you are reaching up to greet the angels.