Michael is a lawyer and a storyteller, or perhaps the other way around.
The good in me is not outweighed by the bad, but is diminished by my self-absorption. I’m working on it same as your working on your issues, so you know how that’s going.
On the plus side, I give to charity.
When the local public TV station does a pledge drive featuring sixties rock stars, I make a donation. Public TV wants me to help keep the music alive and I want to. I am so overwhelmed by the present offering its version of the past that no matter how imperfect the song is sung, I reach for my credit card. I make at least a modest donation because I’d feel like a thief of good intentions if I didn’t.
On the down side, I’m judgmental.
Watching the audience is seeing misshapen bodies move in a way only they would call dancing, perhaps believing that grooving to fifty-year-old music restores youth if only for a while. I see that audience as old and gray and wrinkled like a balled up piece of paper. Harmed by age, in attendance at a costume party going as someone no one wants to be, and the performers are the same. Their time, and voice, long gone. All that remains is their lack of inhibition.
What are they doing listening to my music? How do they know Peter and Gordon? Or Chad and Jeremy? The Yardbirds. The Zombies. That's my music, not my grandpa's. The audience affects me like some residents did at my dad's nursing home. I feel sad for what they became. Many had dribble travelling slowly from lips to jaw, many in wheelchairs, and many waiting for their ungrateful, inconvenienced, children to visit during the weekends.
My dad is in heaven. I have fond memories, because he was my dad. He wasn't all that engaged, parenting wise, but he is half the reason I am here, and that's good enough for me. My dad had a wicked temper, (I have one too) but oddly had patience when it came to driving lessons.
"Given that upcoming highway divider,” he said, “I would steer left.”
My dad supported his family, watched TV, and let my mom do the raising. He did what he understood he was supposed to. I have no complaints.
He was underappreciated. Sometimes that’s how it is being a parent. Between working with my uncle at the restaurant, (my uncle loved himself more than anyone else could) and my mother (a saint, but my parents didn't get along) he had no place to let off steam. Still, he lived ninety-three years.
As a kid, I remember watching him shave, and wanting to do the same. And when I did, I got bumps on my neck so I've had a beard since I was seventeen. That was only fifty-two years ago. I remember my first gray hair at age thirty-five and I thought, "How distinguished." But ten years later, I purchased my first Just for Men beard dye. My girlfriend said I should. I remember having a twenty six inch waist and being okay at tennis. Those are things of the past. I remember my heart attack as if it were yesterday because it more or less was. All's well that ends well.
It’s pretty obvious even to me that what I don't like about the Geezers is that they look old. Like an altogether different species of human, and I know I’m one of them. I never saw it coming. I want my wrinkles to go away. I want my hair back. I want to be too trim for Hawaiian shirts. I want to start over, this time no smoking. And I’ll be nice to all the women I done wrong.
I know none of that’s going to happen.
But at least I'm some years away from a nursing home. I'm going to continue donating to public television. Got to keep the music alive. I’m doing it for myself, and the seniors who cannot reach for their wallets. I want the music of my day to be at the nursing home when I am.
It will be playing in the background. I’ll be thinking about the woman I knew. (Not that I didn’t love my wife even after the divorce.) And that will serve as distraction enough when my children visit just to stay in the will. And given what they have in store, it will be worth the wait.
When my time comes, I will be able to look back and say I was a good father. The benefit I conferred was my absence, choosing to bring justice to those marginally injured in accidents, and harmed by breaches of contract too large for small claims court but not so large that a working knowledge of contract law was required to fight them.
I had poor clients, people who could hardly afford a lawyer, and they had me as their champion, and what really made me successful was the lawyers on the other side usually found my cases too small to fight. Not worth the cost of litigation is how they put it. How I put it, to my clients at least, was that I beat those other lawyers into submission. It’s what I do.
As to my children, whose birthday parties, and graduations, and in the case of my eldest daughter, whose wedding, actually not the wedding, the first of her two weddings, I missed, I’m sure they understood the law is a harsh mistress. If not, I may be unappreciated during my life, but that should change at the reading of the will. No matter if I’m not appreciated until then. No matter if I never feel appreciated. That morning, or afternoon, or evening in my lawyer’s office, everything will change. There, surrounded by dark wood paneling will be my ex, and my two sons and daughter, each dressed in their Sunday best. David F. Becker, my colleague, did the writing, and will be doing the reading of his own work. The occasion will be reminiscent of my life, that is, another festive occasion I was unable to attend.