Thursday, April 12, 2007

Update on Three American Heroes

I'm told I'll wake up to another daffodil-snow wonderland and I'm looking forward to it. It's been a hell of a week and I'd like to pull my wings in for awhile and process.

For one thing, Johnny Cash's house burned down. The moment I heard, I could already see the 'Ring of Fire' headlines. I'm so grateful he's not alive to see this and even more pleased he wasn't in it. Still, it's just a place and places come and go. An optimistic soul remarked that at least the place will never get turned into a gaudy overrun Graceland. The more I thought about it, the better I liked the idea of JC making a fully clean exit from this world. We've got all his songs, what else do we need?

Then, Vonnegut dies. Again, not a full-bore tragedy because, despite his best efforts, the man had a great life. He saw action, found success as an artist, married well - twice - and enjoyed a happy family life with seven children. He was loved, lauded and in demand up to the end. As a writer, he adored being "gloomy and tragic" and leaned toward dark comedy. His own son, Mark (named for Vonnegut's hero, Mark Twain), said in a Boston Globe interview, "It's a loss to him that his life has mostly gone so well. He envies Twain and Lincoln their literary talents, but also their dead children. If my sisters and I were a little more devoted, we would have drawn straws."

Although Mark's sister did do her part – she married Geraldo Rivera, a union that vexed Vonnegut to no end. My good pal, Lindee, a flight attendant, once told me a great story about this. V was on one of her flights years ago and she recognized him. The seat next to V-gut (hey! I like that!) was empty so they chatted the entire flight – LA to Philly, I believe. He raged on and on about Geraldo and how much he despised his tabloidian son-in-law. Lindee giggled and, knowing her, prodded him along for her amusement. I can picture V, fully charmed, but not letting on.

Meanwhile, Papa Clisby was promoted right on out of the hospital in Houston, where he was getting first rate care at the VA. They loaded him up on the plane today and he touched down in Gulfport, Mississippi – back to the Clisby's "We're the New South!" Compound in Ocean Springs. I'm really proud of him - his positive attitude, his grit and his humor. The other day he was gleefully telling me about his daily cute-nurse-administered enemas. He may have even uttered the word: "Wheeeeee!"

Dad was a "Frogman", an early version of Navy SEALS He specialized in underwater demolition (yes, that's blowing shit up underwater) and saw action in the Korean War. These days, he tells me about how he'd always grumbled about the small wages he was got for his Navy duties and how much he feels financially redeemed after this latest experience. "You wouldn't believe the level of care I am getting," he brags. "They are so thorough and so careful and everything is free! You're paying for it! Ha ha!" Then he laughs for awhile.

"Um, you're welcome," I say. I advise him to order all the Hospital Root Beer Floats he can stand and put it on my IRS tab. I also tell him about all the bad press the military is getting for the shoddy medical treatment they are giving the soldiers. I let him know about the neglect at Walter Reed and how the head of Arizona's VA was recently fired amid such charges. "Well, I’m telling you, that's not what is happening here. Let people know, that is not always the case. People work hard here. There isn't a better place I could be."

So, there, I'm letting ya'll know. Decades later, some old soldiers are finally cashing in and quite pleased with the exchange rate.


Jeff C. said...

Daily cute-nurse-administered enemas? Where do I sign up?

Your dad sounds like a guy with a good soul. And the right temperament to get through whatever life throws at him.

Howard said...

It's good to know that we are treating our soldiers well somewhere.

ClizBiz said...

We all have our fantasies. I think mine is now soldier-administered enemas.

Anonymous said...

I really like the idea of no new BeeGee's music being written on the sacred ground of Cash's house in Hendersonville. Somewhere, Johnny Cash is smiling, June close by his side...

~fang, who Google currently will not let log-in under his own name. "Don't be evil" my ass.

hotdrwife said...

When I told my husband where your dad was getting treatment, he told me that he couldn't have been in better care ... like the Marines coming in, sort of thing. Good to know he's home and all is well!