Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ironic Advent Meditation #6a: The Feast of Charles

The Feast of Charles*

My father died on a gloomy wet Advent day like this;
well, this day exactly, senior year.
I had just worked out a new bluesy arrangement of "O Come O Come Emmanuel."
My last note to him contained some “clippings” as he called them of the game the night before--
Ricke had 18 points and 14 rebounds.
I grew up reading and rereading the faded clippings of his forty point games in Houston.
And sitting in his lap reading the sports pages.
I’ve been told more than once that I remember useless facts.

Under the influence of Auden, another father, I had just written him a rather formal and pretentious poem called
“Father Christmas”--
It was going to be his Christmas present, but he never read it.
Somewhere I still have the piece of paper on which my friend had written Joe, call home.
My words scrawled under it, after the call, you're too big to die daddy.
And he was. He was like a god. A loud god. A present god. 
One who didn’t ask me to take every damn thing on faith. 
One who hugged you and held you like you mattered. And, as I said, shared the sports pages.

He brought life and light and a certain wry slightly inebriated smile to everyone who knew him.
He fought the big one, in both Europe and Asia.
His father died before he was a teenager, so was always a bit of a wild one.
He got married three times to the same woman,
Eudora Juanita, as extravagant as her name. My mother.
He couldn't sing a lick, but that didn't stop him from doing the "Streets of Laredo"or "I've Got Spurs that Jingle Jangle Jingle" (I especially remember "now ain't you glad yer single") when we went on fast drives in his 65 Mustang down Rio Rico Road, 
or some of his dirty sailor songs from the war, when Mom and Missy weren't around.

This year, this Advent, this is his feast day.
Damn straight.
I learned to pray at mass by listening to him, sometimes sitting in his lap or just stuck up against him close enough to smell the after shave and cigarettes;
he would be saying the words, I would be making sounds I didn't understand.
Now I’m thinking, who the hell does? really, who the hell does?
One of my earliest memories, probably from the same year Noel was born--
I'm maybe four, sitting next to him in the pew at Our Lady of Sorrows mumbling those holy sounds and feeling very close to my god.

I've been told more than once that I remember useless facts. 

*first posted December 7, 2012. 


  1. I was looking at this picture of Charlie today next to a picture of Noel, so much alike, big men, giant men, big hearts, how could anyone ever compare...

  2. really a beautiful insight, Joe. Charley was the real deal---a great and open heart---open to life and not afraid to love. A real loss when he left his body at such a young age.
    Magically done Joe---good for you.
    Thank you for this beautiful moment ,being still after reading this. jack

  3. Love reading your thoughts. Stirs up magic.