Friday, May 4, 2018

I Should Have Listened to My Old Man

As with most interesting stories in my childhood, this one begins with My Uncle Charlie.

My Uncle Charlie is a title.

My Uncle Charlie

Anyway, he was a big Elton John fan. I think it was a requirement, part of some sort of secret gay code, like a secret handshake. And, while Madman Across The Water is my favorite album of Sir Elton's, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road...

You know you can't hold me forever
I didn't sign up with you

I was in My Uncle Charlie's apartment the first time I heard that song. It was on vinyl. A vinyl I now own. When it was done I committed the sin of picking the needle up off the record and dropping it at the beginning of the song. That loud pop and scratch that every record owner is imagining and cringing at the thought of brought My Uncle Charlie running. I got a quick lesson in using the arm to raise and lower the record properly.

I had a tear in my eye - as I do now (it's playing on a loop as I type) - so he didn't yell at me. He just kissed the top of my head and asked if I was okay. I nodded yes and he let me be. He understood the power of music.

It was one of those times in my life I hadn't seen mom in months or, maybe, years.

I'm not a present for your friends to open
This boy's too young to be singing the blues

I would see her again. Whenever she had a new man, a new group of friends who would never believe she had a son my age. Then the novelty would wear off and I would be without her again.

It would be years before I stopped pining for her. Years before I realized I had everything I needed in Dad and My Uncle Charlie. It took My Uncle Charlie dying for me to really get it but, when I got it it stuck.

Listening on that day, I wanted so badly to hug my dad. He was always the calm when the storms would rage in my mind.

I should have listened to my old man

Years later, after the this same cycle repeated itself too many times I realized that I had no choice in who my mother was. But I also realized that I had a choice in whether or not I let her keep hurting me.

I chose not to.

I finally decided my future lays
Beyond the yellow brick road


Postscript, it's been eleven years since dad also died. In that time mom has shown up when she says she will and done the work of being there in her own fashion.