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My dead father came to me in a dream this afternoon nap. He embraced me and picked me up like I was child and I told him not to on account of his heart. He didn’t have a mustache and I hugged him close like I was a little boy and he held me close too. I suddenly realized that he had passed and I mingled the idea with my subconscious. I pleaded to stay. Then I woke up.

Mind, body, spirit. On my grandfather’s tombstone it says his name. It reads the numbers of his birth and death. It also has a plea to the heavens.

Jesus Save Me

Apparently, my grandfather had committed sin. Most notorious was his five year stint in Colombia back in the 40's. He was a carpenter there and had raised his own little additional family. My brown aunts and uncles that nobody ever talked about were abandoned and forgotten. He was also a mean man prone to insult and injury. A good cook and stubborn. My middle name is his.

We are a family of addiction and heart attacks. All the men can cook and all the women are smart as whips. We have crazies in us and the spirit of old witches on a mountain and wily Italian from my grandmother in us too.

I write of this because on my last trip home I did my usual digging in the basement for treasure. My mother is a pack rat and boxes upon boxes rest in dormant complacency under a flaking lead paint ceiling. I search for my youth. Each time I find something. This last time I opened a box and found some of my grandfather’s articles. One was within another box marked clearly on the sides and top, CLIFF’S HAND BAG. I opened it to find a furry purse from the subcontinent. The leather bag had a mange fur front, decorated with bright weave around. I opened it and the leather cracked. Inside was a small paper bag, filled with about ten rosary made from bone and gold and plastic. There were lapel pins and tie clips and cuff links. I turned them over in my hand and they smelled of must and dust. The bag was the most ornament. We were having family over the next day and I took my new treasure up to show my mom and Dawn.

My mom talked about when she lived with Cliff when my dad was in Vietnam. How he would prepare enormous meals and if you didn’t eat everything, he would pout and say,

”Whassa matter, doncha like it?”

They would fight and not talk for weeks and finally end the feud over a case of beer. She told me how he belittled my father, calling him a sissy and a bastard that wasn’t his. He always cooked his meat rare upon rare and only mellowed under the influence of a three day binge.

My closest cousin Steve and his family were coming over for an extended Chrimma dinner the next day, along with my sister and her family and my Oldest Aunt, Cel. Steve arrived first and I showed him my treasures and I saw his eyes wide as much as mine. We talked about our history and family and the secrets nobody ever mentioned. I saw him feel the rosary and think about the handbag. He was the youngest of four and had been sheltered from the family history. It was all a mystery for us. Our Grandfather had passed when we were infants and we only knew him in pictures.

My dad’s oldest sibling, Aunt Cel arrived next and when I showed her the bag, she only said,

“He must have brought that back from South America.”

Later, she asked me,

”Was there anything in it?”

Her curiosity was as great as mine and I handed her the bag of lost treasures minus a lighter with risque pinup girls on it. She admired the collection of rosary and I could see a bit of nostalgia well in her eighty year old eyes. We all talked a bit about our family and then back to dinner and the pleasantries of the little kids. Time passed and everybody left.

After everybody left, I hid the box in my boyhood closet under my old hockey equipment. I told my mom and Dawn and I headed to the cemetery to find my dad and his parents. We always take the wrong exit and even when we find the cemetery, we always wander around a bit between the tombstones to find my dad’s marker. We found it and I pushed the snow off with my feet and the white stuck in the regressed engraving. I told him what had happened and hugged Dawn close through her thick down jacket and smelled her neck. Then we went to find where my grandparents rest. We found them and I cried and laughed at the epitaph of my grandfather and we left.

You know why Fade away blue because.

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