22 December 2012
Hardly boring, the flag flies on my 65th birthday ! Y e s, it does !
And today, often a cycle’s Winter Solstice, Willard Albert William Maas, too, would have been 93 years old. Adversely affecting far too many of all of these years, there had existed a savage and smug thug, a terrorist about whom Daddy was well acquainted in the reality that had been his favored daughter’s life, a Mr Harold (rhymes with Ger’ ’d) Skimpole – like criminal of arrested development, vainglorious hypocrisy, an attention – seeker of ruthless and relentless unaccountability. http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/08/004-the-skimpole-syndrome-childhood-unlimited-49 Chapter 18, The Company One’s Mind Keeps, pages 121 – 126, Mother – Fucking: “Mirzah, Jesse, Zane and I hadn’t seen AmTaham and Mehitable in a little while, maybe 2½ months or more. It had not been since I rented the honkin’ big black video camera for Zane to film his Grandpa AmTaham as his Kate Mitchell History Day project which he took to State later in Des Moines and actually there won second place with it! The theme for that last spring’s event, really a rather big deal, in the fifth grades around the State of Iowa had been to develop with documentation a piece of some kind, like a video or a poster board or a picture album or an extensive report, about a very, very important person to you in history. Well, this was right up the Ancestor – in – Training alley of mine although this was Zane’s deal and picking as his very, very important person his Grandpa AmTaham had entirely been all of his own thinking and choice. Others in the class, of course, picked Einstein or Gandhi or a few women, too, ... I should think – although I myself actually had heard of none selected. But Zane had settled quite early on on making his History Day project submission a video in which he interviewed his Grandpa AmTaham who, to Zane and to Jesse, probably couldn’t have been more interesting or more important in their lives if he had outright otherwise tried to be. Zane and Jesse, even youngest Mirzah, although Mirzah simply hadn’t had as much time on the Planet to get to know his Grandpa AmTaham as had Jesse and Zane, completely and with abandon adored their Grandpa AmTaham. With us all finally living in Ames now, he and Mehitable resided only two hours down the interstate from us; and he and Zane and Jesse and I couldn’t have been happier about this fact. Herry, of course, ignored my daddy thinking him a bumbling country bumpkin idiot hayseed because he wasn’t wealthy, not even at least by his elder years, like his own farmer father was. I say that that was Herry’s opinion because, some time later, I actually read just about those exact words in Herry’s own handwriting. I didn’t need to read it somewhere, though; to me about his thinking on Ancestor AmTaham Dr. Herod Edinsmaier made no bones. Usually, doesn’t the husband always joke about himself and his mother – in – law –— with respect to their relationships with one another? Particularly if that relationship is known to be sour or, in the very least of ways, unsatisfactory? Not with Herry. The entire time I knew the man both before and after I was married to him and, later, divorced from him ... all of that time ... the one parent of mine whom Herry at all times wholly loathed in every way possible was my father, AmTaham True. I know now that all of Herod Edinsmaier’s hatred of AmTaham was borne out of Dr. Edinsmaier’s own incredible narcissistic need for attention and his quenchless insecurities. AmTaham simply threatened the beYesus out of Herry. True it was and couldn’t have been truer: AmTaham was not rich in material fortune and booty – loot treasure and was never going to be. From off of the same scripted page as the bumpkin idiot hayseed comment of his, Dr. Edinsmaier deplored what he considered to be a coming ‘fact’ in his future: that he, Herry, because he was married to me, would have to be responsible in some financial way, let alone, in actual physical elder care, for both Mehitable and AmTaham in their old, old age. And that thinking of his, that this actual work of taking care of his in – laws would, in some manner, be his fate even before AmTaham or Mehitable were in any way at all either physically or financially incapacitated, vexed Herry no end. While AmTaham was never going to roll in the dough, he did embody everything else –– and did so with such ease, grace and honor –– that Herry himself was never, ever going to be. Simply for starters, AmTaham was gorgeous even as an older man and, finally, an old man. And, as you can imagine then, too, as a young suitor of my mother and soldier in uniform or garbed in his usual rugged livery of blue jeans, flannel shirt and denim barn coat, AmTaham was a stunner. As a three – year – old and a 13 – year – old and a 33 – year – old, I thought AmTaham True the awesomest composition of adult human maleness ever, ever orchestrated. He was tall, 6’2”. His were the always, always completely uncovered coal shocks of thick, slightly wavy, long black hair, the chiseled and ruddy cheekbones, the magnificent nose and the confident countenance and bravura of a true Ancestor in the making. AmTaham True. Zane in his early 20s recently returned from a several months’ – long, hiking Wanderjahr around Guatemala bringing back with him a certain blackish marble statue of a Mayan which he had found there and produced out of his walkabout carryall to present to me for inspection. By chance, he handed it to me sideways; and, immediately, it was immeasurably unmistakable to us both when I pointed out the phenomenal resemblance. This was the bust of Z’s late Grandpa AmTaham which, until that revelation, Zane himself had not seen but was, no doubt, accountable at least in part for the pull behind his incentive to purchase the image in the first place! Then there was the brain of this man. AmTaham knew everything. Everything important enough to be known before one was deceased and, therefore, truly a Righteous Ancestor, that’s for sure. I mean that most seriously. A steel trap. He spoke German at home before he did English. He read and read and read and never stopped reading until, literally, seconds before he dropped dead. This reading habit he started, too, long before he began walking to school. At age five, six or seven years when his own father, Great – Grandpa Zebulon for the accomplishing of certain chores couldn’t find AmTaham, the eldest of six children, next one in line being a brother, then four littler sisters, why, Great – Grandpa’s first place to look for AmTaham was the hayloft of the 80 – acre True homestead’s great centerpiece, the colossal red barn with the hayfork machinery which was so, so fascinating to watch in operation. AmTaham stockpiled a passel of books up in one corner of it just beneath the wide, wizened flap of a wooden loft door which allowed the great and warm light of the slowly setting sun to shed into the mow from the western sky in the late afternoons following school. The most prized and oft – examined book AmTaham devoured up there day in and day out was certainly not any of the several bible versions or other scriptures of the surrounding christian neighborhood but, instead, Noah Webster’s Dictionary. AmTaham True owned a vocabulary that I, to this day, have never known any other to match. He not only knew the words’ meanings but exercised the expressions, always, always in the manner of the Queen’s own English, into his ordinary daily speech whether hand – milking Camel his forehead gently resting against her right caramel – colored flank or climbing aboard the Oliver 88 to head out west across the fecund expanse hauling behind him the equally green 12 – row planter or saying grace and giving thanks to, for him, a non – existent Allah over his family’s entire supper of white breadcrumbs topped with Karo Syrup and Camel’s milk. This praxis was not in the least meant to impress nor boast nor claim renown nor just to even engage another in conversation. AmTaham didn’t possess the voracious neediness for others’ attention and accolades that Herry Edinsmaier so desperately did. AmTaham only wanted, for himself, to remember the things that he had studied. Therefore, to do that he actually used those bits and pieces of knowledge in his everyday life as often as it took for him to not forget them. The same was true of his love for classical music. Two of his three tractors, both of the Olivers, each had a wooden shelf secured and wired through holes drilled into their green, left, back – wheel fenders on which sat a large, black contraption that daily, as a matter of fact, captured the broadcast waves from the student – run radio station, WSUI, at the nearby university in Iowa City. So. During the decade that was the 1950s as he disked and plowed and harrowed and planted and cultivated, AmTaham True reeeallly ... cultivated. That steel – trap mind of his. Out there on the plains at top decibel in order to be able to hear above the engine din, AmTaham, over half deaf himself anyhow from his participation in the pandemonium that had been World War II, harvested a whole agri – culture of Bach and Mozart and Beethoven and Tchaikovsky and Liszt and Chopin or Brahms. He could name for you in the very first few opening bars and measures what work, what concerto, what symphony and what opus number the next piece playing on his funky audio contrivances was and which composer created it. Much in the same fashion that we four teenagers of his could identify all the pop songs and artists that blared out from the rock stations of the real radios we kept by our beds upstairs! Speaking of teenagers, before we kids passed that infamous operator’s examination and obtained our own independent drivers’ licenses at 16 years of age here in Iowa, AmTaham had to do all of the lawful chauffeuring of us to and from our activities when the schedules of all of them did not jive with the times the school bus could rurally deliver us home. Mehitable, legally blind, since that floor – varnishing incident in my toddlerhood when her retinae one day suddenly and permanently detached bilaterally, could not drive me nor my friends anywhere. This was AmTaham’s sole duty for all four of his children throughout our pre – driving junior high and high school years which, necessarily, put quite a time – constraining burden on to him as a matter of fact. Occasionally, but not at all too often, I would ask AmTaham to drive one, two or all three of my best girlfriends, Diana, Kirsten and Lorelee, home from play practice, our Troy Tip – Toppers 4 – H Club or the Junior Achievement business meeting. When he did, his asking any of them for directions to their streets or the most rare of moments when he contributed to the conversations or offered up an initial comment from his chauffeur’s seat about any topic such as on how the 4 – H or JA projects were progressing, Kirsten, Lorelee and Diana ended up mute in short order. They very nearly hadn’t a clue as to what the man had just asked them or stated to their thin air, the vocabulary used in making these general comments of his completely beyond them. All four of us girls were almost always straight – A students and highly competitive so each was not about to let the others of us in on her own personal secret, that is, that each one of us pretty much had no friggin’ idea what Mr. True with his lexicon was saying up there in the front seat. Therefore, our best course of action to save face and ourselves from mortal embarrassment was to stay shut up! We might actually have learned something more, from him that is, if we did remain quiet anyway! While AmTaham, I am sure, harbored no inkling nor intent to cause any of us girls shame in our ignorance, his lexis and elocution were always such – impeccable, that is – that our safest plan was to ride along together rather proper – like for young ladies in those days, that is of course, voiceless I mean. It could also be said that I, Legion, rather reveled in my silence in this singular scenery inside the car instead of being at all discomfited by it. Lorelee’s mama and daddy were farmers, too; but those other two friends of mine had suited and monied businessmen for fathers; and my pa’s flawless eloquence only served to show them both that some folks whom they and their families may have, as a matter of course and classism, automatically written off as hickish, dullard – like grovelers in the ground ... weren’t. Though I knew better than to ever –– right out loud –– compare Herry to AmTaham and vice versa on any of their mutual or exclusive attributes and was so careful to never do that when I was still in Herry’s life, there was, at the least if not more, one more extraordinarily major difference between these two atheist men: their morals. Herry was, well, basically amoral. Without them at all. Looking back I believe that I must’ve known this from the git – go. I now take full culpability for having – deep, deep down – known this fact up front and for still wanting to have such an evil a man as he comport himself as my loving and genuine husband and my most precious children’s father. Like I have written before, I cannot believe, with my brilliant brain that I was so ignobly idiotic, so reprehensibly impolitic and so stupidly bedazzled. Herry wasn’t the first bad boy that I’d lit out after. And had. Dr. Herod Edinsmaier was just the first one who had had at least two pages of book smarts to him, and that characteristic alone weightily attracted me to Herry in the first place. Very soon on, Herod’s facility to develop and support a mediocre to above – average conversation or somewhat reasoned explanation on interesting stuff and current affairs became the justification that would exculpate him, in my eyes, from all of those other ugly and routine traits of his, lubricious, licentious and woman – hating though they clearly were from the start. Matters sexual and misogynistic weren’t the only spheres of Herry’s dishonor either. This, too, I knew early on. Herry drank lots and lots of beer up until 1977; but, way, way worse than that, he drove numerous times after drinking. Most regularly Herry drove drunk his own cars, an old beater, blue – green van and various motorcycles, also big dump trucks belonging not to him at all but to construction companies for which he, at one time before I knew him, had worked. And joked often and long about his talent and penchant for hiding his incapacitation to operate a 2,000 – pound, and sometimes much weightier, weapon on the road … safely. Especially from the local fuzz. Truly and more than one time, Dr. Herod Edinsmaier actually guffawed about it. This, in an educated man approaching 30 years of age. In one who full – well knew exactly what the crime was which he was perpetrating every single time he chose to commit it. One of Herod Edinsmaier’s favorite stories was of his strapping on a set of chains to the rear tires of that old 60s Chevy van of his in near total darkness and a deluging downpour in order to give that vehicle traction enough to hustle it up and out of a shallow ditch in an area of town that separated the campus from the city’s residential divisions. The site of this incident took place, as a matter of fact, only about a ¼ of a mile from the same picture – window pad Herod had purchased out of which to view that Brookside Forest. Right under the scrutinizing noses of a city policeman and a university cop both of whom had stopped alongside Herry to see what his trouble was, Herry later and often bragged about accomplishing the chain thing, freeing up his van and driving it off into the rainy night, then, without either one of the law enforcement officials ever catching on to the fact that he was completely smashed and had run off the road not because of their wet conditions but because he’d been driving drunk. Driving drunk will eventually get someone crippled or killed. Even George W had to admit to that much about four days before he was (sort of) elected to the highest office in the Land. But we all know, don’t we, that it and its legal penalties against sloshed and criminally endangering fathers driving their own or others’ infants, for example, four – month – old Zane or Abby’s and Devin’s wee daughter, seem to be forgettable or purchasable … depending, of course, just like perjury and lying in a state’s district court are also forgettable or purchasable … , on how the hell pillared in either position or parents’ pedigree you, Mister, happen to be at the time! AmTaham’s knowledge was spread around not just to the works of art and artists, that is, to fine literature and finer music. I would have to say that he knew so much because he read so much. Maybe AmTaham would have watched more television if he had not been so deaf, that is, if he had been better able to hear the TV. As it was, AmTaham was somewhat hard of hearing most of his 30s and very deaf after the age of about 40 years, 60 percent gone in one ear and 40 percent more loss in the other the doctors at the Veteran’s Hospital in Iowa City told him. His sense of hearing, they said, lessened initially because of the war; and then the machinery of his farming vocation fostered no support whatsoever and only served to further the deterioration of the auditory nerves bilaterally. In no way was his related at all genetically or hereditarily to the complete deafness in my left ear which, indeed, was itself actually teratogenic in origin. That is to say, mine had been due to Mehitable’s having been infected with the German measles virus while she was pregnant with me which she, to this day, denies. Pretty much like Herry she is in that Denial Department there. Curiously and expectantly enough, of course, the Veteran’s Administration of the federal government of the country he fought other testosteronal human beings in defense of, though admitting that AmTaham’s diagnosis of deafness was war – induced, had nothing to offer him, ever, in the way of either cure, palliation or ... compensation ... for it. For its loss. So. AmTaham read. He read instead of viewing television or seeking out social conversation and interaction. Another disrelish of Herry’s about AmTaham. Because whereas Herry read a lot himself all right, Herry also depended greatly and often, multiple times a day actually, upon the admiration and regard from others and, most especially, upon their engagement, the attention which he took from them –— so borne out of that neediness and narcissism of his as witnessed by his ten hours a week in Alcoholics Anonymous in addition to all of the procrastinating away from actual and sometimes solitary pathology work which he did during the workday with a host of those subordinate co – workers, very many of them female. Herry was basically Mr. Glib Guy. Loquacious. A popinjay. ‘Course, then, in the evenings, when all of the residents and other docs were home cooking supper or grocery – shopping or bathing their babes or washing the kids’ and the spouse’s laundry or even helping Zane with his first year of keyboard music practice in Hershey and then also Jesse and Mirzah, too, with all three of their Suzuki piano programs in Columbia a year later, Dr. Edinsmaier was either back at the lab at the hospital finishing the things he should’ve completed during his daytimes there or else off somewhere with one or more of those other women either from work or from AA. Rosemarie, our most belovéd child caregiver, years later, had had many, many words to say to me about this – all of which she’d kept to herself until she learned, sometime after the fact, that we were no longer ‘a family’. Herry’s utter absence from the Truemaier Boys those weekday evenings when I was out working the three different part – time veterinary practices in Pennsylvania, she’d always found consternating. Especially since Rosemarie knew that the other children’s parents, who lived right there in the same housing complex as did we and were also in pathology residencies, were themselves all at home nights and did not require caregivers whatsoever for their kids such as Dr. Edinsmaier, however, always seemed to have need of ... every single evening. AmTaham didn’t give a damn if he did or he didn’t talk with someone else; and he certainly never gave one hang what anyone else thought of him so, often, preferred the sole company for days upon days that could stretch into weeks of that particular friend of his who lived right inside his own skin to that of anyone else. AmTaham was by no means antisocial nor did he loathe or shun social interaction. He loved it. So long as … once others knew that he was quite deaf … AmTaham was given by them the respect due him to actively engage him –– because of the way that he heard differently from most of them –– in their conversations. This though was, of course, work that Herod Edinsmaier, all of the time during which he was a part of the True family, just up and completely refused whatsoever to do for either AmTaham or for me in our deafness. Herry loathed our physical challenges and Mehitable’s legal blindness, too, and simply would have none of it nor the remembering of it so, by his own purposeful design, decidedly distanced himself from us. Besides the Trues’ assertiveness, convictions and willingness to do hard work being a threat to Herry, we were also … less than. We were an embarrassment. All of us. A classic classist shame we Trues were. Why should he, the Good and Wonderful Doctor Herod Edinsmaier, have to interact and put up with folks less than himself in stature or status, either one. AmTaham thought his inability to hear well no handicap at all. On the contrary, anyone reasonable could easily understand why another so deaf would, therefore, read all of the time to entertain himself. AmTaham read nearly all of the great authors on the topics of anthropology and culture, ancient history and recorded history, the world’s philosophies and religions, economics, agronomy, animal science, biology and medicine, political science, travel, international relations and foreign policy. And nature. Anything and absolutely everything on Things Natural. Especially on evolution. From hunting and aquaculture in landlocked areas to forestry and water conservation, from weather and precipitation patterns to geological changes and habitat encroachment. Anywhere in the World. He was, bar none, the most progressive farmer in his own county; and on Sundays in my youth when folks took to their weekly afternoon rides around the spring and summer countryside, why, the gravel roads beside AmTaham’s and Mehitable’s fields were almost always the dustiest. AmTaham was the first to plant 30 – inch corn rows and fly in the face of the ages – old system of 40 – inch ones, the width of a workhorse’s ass, of course. That, alone, brought hoards out; but when he insisted on sustainable land practices and the resource management of Ol’ Man’s Creek that ran the entire length of our and many other folks’ farms, why, that really brought them out to have a look – see at what good ol’, quirky AmTaham was up to next. A sort of agronomy barometer he was for the others in the community. AmTaham passionately did not want Mehitable’s and his children attending parochial school either. Every August the local lutheran school principal paid AmTaham and Mehitable a visit to try to convince them to send us four, of course, with tuition that Mr. and Mrs. True would have to come up with, to that specific religious school in the Burg. It wasn’t until just two years before AmTaham passed into Ancestral Status and that certain and so memorable conversation which he and I alone had had while cleaning those paintbrushes, that I realized fully why he was so adamantly against us four children ever submitting ourselves to a private and formal religion – based educational system. Not that I minded one bit! I wholeheartedly did not want to go there. It would have been utterly god – this and god – that, the almighty – this and our good lord and savior – that. Fuck! Anyhow the school itself was also old, staid, had no funky p layground and absolutely, unequivocally, the worst thing of all … no cute boys my age. I knew all of the boys there since I, of course, already attended sunday school and church with all of them; and there were nooooo cute ones, believe me! Besides I was since first grade, the year when all of the country kids finally joined up with the town kids after our having been separated throughout kindergarten into the morning group and the afternoon gang, fervently faithful to Larry; and Larry was, ah, umm, O JYeah, Larry was presbyterian. So. The last thing I wanted to do was go to that religious school and miss out on Larry; and, of course, every year I thought it was a matter of tuition money and the fact that AmTaham and Mehitable believed the public school uptown to be a much better one for obtaining an actual education that AmTaham always kindly turned down the pastoral principal and showed him the door after their politely partaking of something together like mocha cake and coffee. No, the True kids wouldn’t be enrolling next week, nope. I never knew until my early 40s and that wonderful conversation over turpentine, scrub water and leftover paint in the condo basement on Havencourt Avenue why we, all of us four, throughout every single elementary grade and junior high and high school levels, always, always went to public school. * * * * Loyal, compassionate and feminist would have to be the last three adjectives I would use to singly characterize AmTaham True. The man had three daughters. At no time in my recent nor remote memory of him, not even one time, do I know him to have made a vulgar, let alone, sexist comment, done an objectifying deed or initiated or participated in any blatant or subtle acts of female suppression including humor or the many, many forms of pornography. How dare he – and call himself … father? Morally, how dare he?" +++++ +++++ "And so this is ... ...SOLSTICE !" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8Vfp48laS8