A Reminiscence

He rarely understood what hit him
as, battered about by life, he careened
from one misadventure to another,
moments of hope followed by
inevitable let-downs—
from one pipe dream to the next.

He hoped but didn’t learn,
fought but didn’t understand,
cared but did not know how to be that person,
knew he was outclassed by bigger fish,
yet not able to find solace,
even in resignation.

His eyes, already glazed, were doubly
glazed over, seen through the glass
of his second martini during dinner.
A spoon dropped. Everyone froze in midair,
knowing he’d hit the roof,
his tenuous balance unraveling inside.
From the simple inability to deal with
his own fractured psyche after the war,
he terrorized his own flesh and blood. . .

Of course, he had a brighter side too—
his sly, offbeat humor,
valiant efforts to grow past his craziness,
his love for beauty, for his saint of a wife—
even for his kids, when he could.
Coming from a real need inside himself,
efforts towards restitution were made,
albeit obliquely, for injuries caused.

Can we have any real understanding of the value of this life?
Are we actually in a position to be judge and jury?
Would we have done any better in his shoes?
Will our offspring stand on our shoulders, as his kids stood on his?
Will we be judged for our own shortcomings too,
massive as we know them to be?

Better to live with the questions than the judgments.

Here’s to you, Pop.
And to a brighter day.

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