Read about the misadventures of a sped high school teacher in Savannah, GA as he sails through the exciting seas of committment, marriage with step-kids, some tour guiding while he attempts to break into the world of professional storytelling and the occasional act of piracy.
Sunday, September 9, 2012
A White Porpoise, A Red Tailed Hawk, and Terrible Loss for my Good Friends...
It’s been a busy few weeks since we last leaned on the
fence and chatted about what’s on my mind. I’ve gone begrudgingly back to work
after the end of the Summer of Kim. The kids and my amazing wife threw me a
fantastic birthday. I’ve learned a bit about the enormous difference between
going back to school as an employee and as a parent.
Something else has happened which has had a larger impact
on me that I want to admit. I have spoken of my friend/mentor/adopted big
brother, Capt. Tony Daniels before. The Capt, as we like to refer to him and
his family has had an enormous impact on my life. I went to Young Harris
College with Tony. After he graduated, I met his sister, Dawn and the
friendship blossomed. His parents were often around in those days and other
periods of my life so I felt like I really know the Daniels pretty well. Matter-fact,
when I think of my window at YHC, I realize the Daniels were a major part of it
It hit me pretty hard when I found out on the Facebook
how their mom, Mrs. Daniels, lost her battle to cancer.
I’ve spent the last week trying to figure out what to say
or how to say something to maybe help with what they are going through. I got
nothing. Except that I love them and I am here. Then my birthday came and
something happened that rocked my world so hard, it has taken me bit to process
it so I could write about it.
I realized it was time to finally share the Hawk story.
A few hours had passed since Mom, Mary, I and our
entourage had returned from Hillcrest Cemetery to lay the Big Guy at rest. I
had set up shop on the deck staring at the marsh and heavily trying to
self-medicate on Camel lights and anything in a bottle.
Our neighbor, Ron Bebee, (as mentioned in the last blog)
dropped by to pay respects and say hello. As is custom with Ron, he walked up
nursing his obligatory bottle of Bud Lite in one hand with a spare in his
pocket even though we always offer to share our coolers with him.
Rags, Gid, and a few others sat in silence on the deck as
we all tried to find words to get something started but no one really spoke much.
Some grief is just too thick.
Ron finally broke the silence. “Shit, Rob. I don’t know
what to say but I am so sorry. Bob was a helluva guy.”
I nodded, faked a smile, and lit another Camel. I put the
pack on old wire spool we always used as a table.
Ron went on. “Sherry and are sorry were missed the
service. We showed up late due to traffic and didn’t want to interrupt. We just
stood off to the side and waited. “
“Thanks, Ron. Means a lot that you guys would even come out.
I know ya’ll got work.” I forced myself to keep it together.
“The funny thing, Rob, is that something wild kinda
happened so I am glad I had to sit off to the side.” Ron popped the second Bud
Lite. “We were watching the service when I noticed this large bird fly up and
land on the power lines over by where your daddy’s plot was.
I didn’t think much of it at first but after a few
minutes I began to pay more attention to that bird and I realized it was a red
tail hawk. That bird sat there on that power line and I swear to God, I wouldn’t
be surprised if it was Bob’s service he watchin’. When the service was over and
ya’ll were leaving, the hawk flew away.
It stuck with me the whole way over here and I remembered
how much your dad used to love to watch all the hawks we have out here. He used
to talk about those birds all the time when we’d catch up out the yard.”
It was true, Out on the property, we have a quite the menagerie
of different animals that pop up from time to time including to alligators,
deer, and a few families of red tail hawks that live somewhere across the creek
on Isle of Hope. On many occasions, the Big Guy would come and find us to drag
us from whatever Mary, Mom, and I were doing to point out what the Hawks were
doing. It was almost a passion of his.
One time, Dad tore us away from Mary and I’s late brunch
to share Momma Hawk teaching her baby how to hunt. All of this was in our front
yard. Momma Hawk stood big enough to carry off a hobbit. The damn thing could
have easily come up to my waist; it was a powerful image and the moment where I
fell in love with them too.
By this point, we were all sitting on the edge of our
seat. Ron had our full attention. I only looked away so I could better grasp
the plastic cup I was drinking bourbon and cokes out of. Ron wrapped up his
story,” Guys, it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that bird was your daddy’s spirit
watching over all that to say goodbye but you can take this anyway you want.”
And I have. Mary, Mom and I have noticed that at many
junctures in our lives, a hawk shows up at moments when we need it. I have come
to take it as the Big Guy saying, “Hey, I may be gone but that doesn’t mean I
am not going to stop watching over you guys.”
It is not an unusual occurrence where one of us will be catching
up and the other mentions how they were going to work or doing something then
look up to see a hawk watching them. We have gotten to where we refer to as,
Hey, I saw Dad today.”
Week before last I coolest thing to happen to me where I
called Mary and shared. It was my birthday and half way through preplanning ant
school. I was working on some US History test prep with my buddy, Billy Walker
when Dave Westbrook came running in.
Dave was elated to share, “You guys are not going to
believe this. There is a hawk out next to the shrubbery. He just standing there
is doesn’t seem to be afraid of people. We had six people standing around it
and it had no fear.”
Billy and I go out to see this and sure enough, out on
the walkway was a red tail hawk. He was about a little over two feet tall and
just standing there. At first, I thought he was hurt because we got pretty
close and nothing occurred, Until I stepped forward by myself.
I could hear Billy off in the background saying to be careful
but something inside of me told me I would be fine so long as I approached
carefully. I was about three feet away
when the hawk turned his head and peered at me. Our eyes locked. As weird as
this sounds to say, I swear I felt as if that hawk was looking inside of me
instead of “at” me.
I am sure it was only a few seconds but after what felt
like an eternity to me, the hawk leapt up and flew to a low hanging branch on
the live oak I often admire as I walk to class. We spent the next hour or so
watching him bounce around the front of the front of the school. All said, it
was a pretty impressive afternoon.
My good friend, Paul Sidney took this with the school camera
These were with my cell phone
In spite of all this, I consider myself an individual
with above average intelligence and very analytical mind when it comes to
processing information. I am well aware there are very logical explanations to
everyone of these occurrences. I have read up enough on these hawks and have a
pretty good base of information on how animals act to make plausible explanations
to why these hawks show up
It doesn’t change the fact of how much comfort
I get when one of these beautiful creatures pop into my life and reminds me
that I am not alone. As I drive deeper in middle age, I find myself taking life
pretty responsibly. If I want to allow myself my one moment of acting like
Shirley MacClaine for the sake of comforting a devastating loss then I will. I
don’t think anyone can fault for that if they do, fuck ‘em.
Tony, Dawn, and Mr. Daniels, I am so sorry for your loss
and wish I could be there as the hard part begins. Moving on. I wrote this over
the past few weeks in hopes of that maybe it would be of some comfort but also
to remind you that Gloria is not gone so long as you find ways to remember her.
As I type this, I can’t stop thinking of the creativity you guys have and I
realize that Gloria is going to be immortalized in many ways. I look forward in
hearing about you guys finding your voice on this.
For some reason, it always go back to Pat Conroy and a
crowded parking lot at way too many Buffett shows when I think of you guys.
This quote just feels appropriate so please indulge me.
white porpoise comes to me at night, singing in the river of time, with a
thousand dolphins in radiant attendance, bringing charismatic greetings from
the Prince of Tides.”
I crank up the blender to toast the memory of your Mom, I hope, that in some
way, you guys discover your own white porpoise. We found ours and it has made
life a little less empty. Now if you’ll
excuse me, I have a lady to go and toast.