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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Monday, April 01, 2013

Thoughts about April First...

April 1st , 7:00PM,and no April Fools pranks pulled among the three of us at home—unless one calls four hours of cleaning the garage a joke. I suppose it’s because we’re on Spring Break. If this were a school day, all sorts of funny stories would be buzzing in the hallways.
Years ago, when I was teaching in Iowa, the bell rang to begin class, and a young man come up to me discreetly standing between me and 24 students. Jack was funny guy capable of pranks, so when he whispered, “Mr. K, your fly is down.” I said, “Yeah, right… ‘April Fools’ Ha Ha…”  His eyes widened, and he whispered it again so earnestly that I stepped into the hall and came back in with a wink and a nod in his direction. It was not a joke. He just nodded as if to say, “Gotcher six,” and kept the matter to himself, sparing me much embarrassment. That was almost twenty-eight years ago. The young man went off to college, graduated, got married, and became a chaplain in the Air Force (a position he still holds to this day). Thank you, Jack, for not taking advantage of a teacher on a day that would have excused it. 
Even with little anecdotes like that in my life, April 1st as a date was pretty much like any other day until 1995. It fell on a Saturday that year. I had been gone all day working a wedding (back when I had a videography business). I returned home about 11:00 PM and was putting away my equipment in my downstairs editing room. Julie was asleep in our room on the main floor, and Emily and Kim were asleep in their second-story bedroom when the phone rang. At that hour a phone call is never a good thing, I listened with surprising composure as my brother-in-law told me the sad news: a few hours before, my father had died suddenly of acute myocardial infarction—heart attack. My mother and sister were still busy at the hospital, and they had asked him to call the brothers. I sat on the couch for nearly an hour before waking Julie to tell her. She began sobbing immediately, something my mind had not yet allowed my heart to do. I don’t remember how we told the girls. The rest of that week is a blur, and no one wants to read about such things anyway….
I'm writing this only to say that on April 1st my siblings and I share an emotional connection. We go through the day with its jokes and smiles. We do our jobs and interact like any other day, but at some private moment … we share a twinge of heartache hidden deep inside--like a pair of folded white gloves tucked away in the corner of a drawer. [The funeral home issued white gloves for the pall bearers and told us to keep them.]

With that as a backdrop, let me tell you about something from yesterday that prompted this post....

Yesterday, my whole family was together for Easter Dinner: our three daughters, two sons-in-law, two grand-children, Julie and me. It was nice.

 Julie being from Kansas with plenty of KU fans in her family and me being a big U of M fan, the afternoon NCAA conference game was an event we’d been looking forward to. During half-time, my daughter Emily was looking through some old pictures. She and her mother are gathering photos for Natalie’s graduation Open House)  While I was getting ready for the second half to start, Emily handed me these old photo-booth pictures.
I had not seen them in years. The one frame where Dad is looking right at us (right at the lens) is hauntingly serene. My note on the back of the picture says it was August 31, 1978.  But some other part of my brain remembers details I didn’t jot down on the back: I can hear Grandma laughing, and ten-year-old  Jimmy warning that the pictures were about to start, and Mom concerned that she is not in the frame (and she barely was). Only half of me was in the booth. The closed curtain was draped over my back.

And there in all the hub-bub,
Dad is just sitting there in disbelief that we talked him into that curtained booth in the penny arcade at Cedar Point. Grandma rode the Blue Streak roller coaster that day (It says so on the back of the photos. She lived to the age of 99, and was adventurous right up to the end.) In the last frame, Mom is trying to give Dad a kiss. The whole trip to Sandusky was a lark. We hitched up the old Apache pop-up camper and spent the night at the campground on the point. We left in such a hurry that we forgot to bring a camera, but this strip of photo-booth pictures captures the spontaneity and laughter that  a regular camera would have missed. There is not one corner of a frame that tells anyone this was a Cedar Point in 1978, but they are four wonderful blinks in time. 

 A few days after packing into that photo booth, I was packing my '65 Delta 88 and driving to South Carolina for my senior year of college.  I was not sad about returning to school because I couldn't wait to see Julie. Four months later, I would propose to her on New Year’s Eve. My other three siblings were not with us that day at Cedar Point because they were married and not with us that day. As our new families and households began in the years ahead, they were all still very connected to the home we shared with Mom and Dad. If you are new to Patterns of Ink, there are many chapters about these people and the life we shared.
This past Saturday, I heard the coach or Wichita State tell his team that to beat Ohio State they did not have to play a perfect game--it did not even have to be their most excellent game... all they had to do was play well. (And they did.) I found it interesting that he told them that, and I think it is true of life's demands in general. 
The home and people I sometimes write about here are far from perfect and often fell/fall short of excellent... we were and are people doing our best with the time and temperaments and tools granted us. Thank, God, we are not called to perfection, a standard we would soon resent. We are called to follow as best we can the example and teachings of Christ.... knowing we will fall short again and again....we are called to press on toward the mark. Complete (i.e."perfect") attainment is not required but apathy is forbidden, for in the end, simply put.... we are called to care
I was truly blessed to come from such a home.

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