Chapter 2 – Searching for Day, “A Secret Discovered”

Chapter Two ~ A Secret Discovered
Joe and Tony watched the waiter set a sixteen inch pepperoni pizza on the metal stand in the center of the table. The waiter put a slice on each of their plates.

When the waiter left, Joe raised his bottle toward Tony and said, “Salute.”

Tony clinked his beer bottle to Joe’s and responded, “Salute.”

They each took a short drink from their bottles, set them down, and began eating their pizza. The pizza was New York style, thin crust, with fresh buffalo mozzarella, and pepperoni imported from Italy. Joe folded his slice and took a healthy bite. He closed his eyes for a moment as he slowly chewed it. He said nothing. When he finished his slice, he used the small spatula to take another piece and set it on his plate. He took a sip of his beer, put the bottle down and said, “Tony, how long have you know me?”

Tony was surprised at the comment. He said, “Hey, we grew up together. You’re six months older than me that makes you 29 in two more months. So?”

“You knew my mom and dad, right?” asked Joe.

Tony looked confused, “Your mom and dad were like second parents to me. I loved them almost as much as my own. I still have a hard time with the way they got killed in the car accident last month. It wasn’t right. Your dad was what, 55 years old? And, your mom a couple years younger.”

Joe took a deep breath, and began, “I know, Tony. I’m still grieving. Some days, it hurts like hell.”

“Maybe you need to go to counseling,” said Tony.

“Maybe you don’t need to interrupt me, just listen, okay?” said Joe.

Tony held up both hands in surrender, he said, “Not another word.”

Joe took a bite of his slice, put it down and then took a sip of beer. He took a deep breath and began. “You ever hear the old saying, things are never as seem.”

Tony nodded, being careful not to say anything.

Joe continued as if he were talking to a tree, “I’m their only child. They are the only parents I’ve ever known. Everything I’ve accomplished I owe to them. They were so good to me. They wouldn’t let me take out college loans. Instead, they took a second mortgage on their house to put me through to make sure I was debt free when I graduated. I can never repay them for what they did for me.”

Joe stopped talking and he looked away staring out the window into the parking lot. He felt a surge of emotions beginning to flood through him. He felt regret he never told them as much as he wanted that he loved them. He felt regret he couldn’t prevent a DWI from running a stop sign and careening broadside into them. He felt regret he was always too busy with work and his social life during the past ten years to make much room for them.

Tony sat across from his brooding friend, a thousand questions ran through his mind. Every question slamming it brakes on at a stop sign he mentally placed in front of them.
Joe turned back to Tony, “I’m the sole beneficiary to their estate. It’s no big deal. They were still paying off the second mortgage they took out for me. Dad had a 401K account, it’s worth three hundred thousand dollars. They didn’t live long enough to collect their retirement. There is a money market, savings account, and checking account all together they’re under a hundred thousand. They didn’t believe in life insurance. The driver who hit them didn’t have insurance and was unemployed. I’m going through all this stuff now. You don’t think about this stuff and them boom, it’s hits you all at once and you’re not prepared.”

Joe stopped, took a sip of his beer, then a bite of his slice. When he finished, he continued, This past weekend, I went over to the house. I want to get it ready to call a realtor to put it on the market. I don’t want to live in it. It’s painful just opening the door. As soon as I walked in, I expected to see dad sitting on the sofa watching the Sox play. I expected mom to rush out of the kitchen and hug me and give me a kiss. I can’t shake the feeling they’re still alive and will suddenly show up. You know, it’s like they went away for a few days and suddenly come back home.”

Tony wanted to tell Joe, ‘It’s going to take time.’ But, he knew better. He took hold of his bottle and took a sip, not because he was thirsty, but because he wanted to let his best friend talk without him asking a question.

Joe gave a slight, wistful shake of his head and said, “They were packrats, they must have kept everything they ever bought from the day they were married. I started to go through a large box of photos and had to stop. It was too painful. I closed it up. I don’t know what I’ll do with them. Then there’s the Christmas boxes. Mom loved Christmas. There was box after box of Christmas lights and ornaments.”

Joe stopped for a moment. He finished his slice and put another slice on his plate. He took a bite, then looked at Tony and said, “If I keep going down memory lane, we’ll be here until they close.”

Tony waved him off with a swipe of his hand.

“I appreciate it, Tony. You’re a good friend. I’ll get straight to the point. I climbed the stairs into the attic. I wanted to make sure they were no boxes hiding up there. I found two boxes. One box was filled with tax returns going back twenty years. Why they kept them, I have no clue. I need to have them shredded. I opened the other box and it was filled with dad’s old army clothes. They’re more than thirty years old. He must have thought he’d get called back in.” Joe stopped for a moment and laughed at his joke. Then he continued, “I closed both boxes and moved them toward the attic opening. The box of taxes was the heaviest. They must have kept every tax return and documenting papers going back through every year of the marriage. It must have weighed a hundred pounds. I made sure I carefully picked it up. I didn’t want to hurt my back.”

Tony nodded.

Joe continued, “I picked up the box of clothes. It was light compared to the tax documents. When I set it down, I felt something shift inside, like a box within in a box. I didn’t see another box in there, but I didn’t poke around. I assumed it was all clothes. I opened the box and dug in and moved dad’s army clothes around. I found a metal box wrapped tight with duct tape. I shook the metal box, and I head something sliding around. I didn’t think much of it at the moment. I thought there might be some important papers I need to read regarding Mom and Dad’s estate. I carried the metal box out of the attic and took it home. I spent enough time trying to deal with memories.
“When I got home, I set the metal box on the table. I fetched a pair of scissors, and sat down at the table. Before I began cutting the duct tape, I carefully scanned the box to see if there was anything printed on it. I didn’t find anything. When I opened it, I thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head.”

Joe closed his eyes and he began the journey to a time when he was eight years old.


Fear Not, Dear Friends, But Freely Live Your Days – Poem by Robert Louis Stevenson


Fear not, dear friend, but freely live your days
Though lesser lives should suffer. Such am I,
A lesser life, that what is his of sky
Gladly would give for you, and what of praise.
Step, without trouble, down the sunlit ways.
We that have touched your raiment, are made whole
From all the selfish cankers of man’s soul,
p. 41And we would see you happy, dear, or die.
Therefore be brave, and therefore, dear, be free;
Try all things resolutely, till the best,
Out of all lesser betters, you shall find;
And we, who have learned greatness from you, we,
Your lovers, with a still, contented mind,
See you well anchored in some port of rest.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Today’s Quote on Succeeding

To succeed, you must have tremendous perseverance, tremendous will. “I will drink the ocean”, says the persevering soul; “at my will mountains will crumble up”. Have that sort of energy, that sort of will; work hard, and you will reach the goal. ~ Swami Vivekananda

“Searching for Dad” Chapter 1

Chapter One – What Are Friends For?

Joe Astore picked up the small round hardball, gripped it in his right hand. He wrapped the handball gloved fingers around the ball making the ball momentarily disappear. He wiped the sweat away from his eyes with his left forearm. He stood in the right server’s box and took a glance over his left shoulder at Tony DelPetri and said, “Game point.”

Joe bounced the ball twice, took a deep breath, then dropped the ball and simultaneously twisted his body, brought his extended right arm up and back. His eyes never left the ball. To Joe, the ball traveled in slow motion. His body torqued, his hips began to shift forward and his arm followed. His knees began bending lower and his hips were almost parallel with the front wall when his sweeping right arm and gloved hand made contact with the ball six inches off the handball court floor. The small ball flew off his hand toward the front court wall ricochetting deep into the right corner of the court.

Tony, who positioned himself in the left-hand side of the backcourt to return Joe’s serve, followed the speeding ball. He move his feet and shifted his body to his left to position himself to catch the ball coming off the back wall return it to the front wall. Tony watched the ball careen off the back wall and quickly ricochet off the side wall sending it out of his reach.

Joe didn’t look back. He knew he made an ace when he hit the serve. He said, “Game.”
Joe peeled off his glove, walked to retrieve the ball, and then turned to see Tony staring at him. “What?” said Joe.

“I almost had you this time. I pushed you to game point. Either I’m really improving or you have something bothering you. My guess is something is eating at you. Want to stop for a beer and talk about it?” said Tony.

Joe picked up his towel, wiped the sweat off his face and neck, ran his hand through his wavy black hair, and said, “I don’t think you have enough time.”

Tony stared at his friend. The usually optimistic, kick ass attitude that was normally Joe’s persona, was gone. Tony said, “I’ll call Paula and tell her you and I are going out for pizza and a beer. She’ll understand. We can go to DiMarco’s grab a booth, order a pizza and a couple of beers. Don’t say a word. I won’t take no for an answer. We’re friends. What are friends for if they’re not there when needed.”

Joe turned toward Tony, “I appreciate it, Tony. You can’t help me this time. I’m working though some stuff only I can work through.”

Tony said, “Humor me. Go to dinner with me. If you don’t want to talk, you don’t have to talk. Fair enough?”

Joe gave his friend a half smile and said, “Okay. Let’s hit the shower and sauna.”
The two friends left the handball court and walked silently to the men’s locker room.

They sat in the sauna, their towels wrapped around their waists. Joe’s eyes were closed. Tony watched him, saw the beads of sweat running off Joe’s face and dripping off his chin. Joe never gave Tony an opportunity to start talking.

When Joe opened his eyes, he said, “Let’s shower. The sauna always relaxes me. I’ll be ready for pizza and a beer. It might be good for me to air it out.”

Thirty minutes later, Joe and Tony were in a booth at DiMarco’s. Sliced hot Italian bread and a small dish with olive oil and spices sat on the table. Joe swirled a piece of bread in the olive oil, smiled at the oil’s golden hue on his bread and then took a bite.

Tony took a pull on his beer and watched his friend. When Joe swallowed his food, Tony said, “Well?”

Joe was moving the remainder of his piece of bread in the olive oil. He swirled it through the oil and into the spices. He pulled it out and placed it in his mouth. He chewed it, swallowed, then pick up his bottle and took a drink. He looked at his friend Joe and said,

“I’ll keep it short and sweet. Last night Marie and I broke up.”

Tony said, “What? You guys are engaged to get married. You were, are the perfect couple. What happened?”

Joe held up his hand, traffic cop style, “That’s not all. I quit my job. I’m done as of five o’clock today.”

Tony jumped in with both feet. He said, “This better be good. Are you dying? Tell me you’re not dying? You’re not going off on some missionary work and living a celibate lifestyle? You’re making six figures in your job. You’re on the fast track to great things.

Why are you throwing your life away?”

“You sound like Marie,” said Joe. He took another pull on his beer, set it down to the side of the table to make room for the pizza that was on it’s way. “You really want to know why all this happened?”

Tony said, “Yes.”

The Courtesy of the Blind ~ Poem by Wisława Szymborska

The Courtesy of the Blind

The poet reads his lines to the blind.
He hadn’t guessed that it would be so hard.
His voice trembles.
His hands shake.

He senses that every sentence
is put to the test of darkness.
He must muddle through alone,
without colors or lights.

A treacherous endeavor
for his poems’ stars,
dawns, rainbows, clouds, their neon lights, their moon,
for the fish so silvery thus far beneath the water
and the hawk so high and quiet in the sky.

He reads—since it’s too late to stop now—
about the boy in a yellow jacket on a green field,
red roofs that can be counted in the valley,
the restless numbers on soccer players’ shirts,
and the naked stranger standing in a half-shut door.

He’d like to skip—although it can’t be done—
all the saints on that cathedral ceiling,
the parting wave from a train,
the microscope lens, the ring casting a glow,
the movie screens, the mirrors, the photo albums.

But great is the courtesy of the blind,
great is their forbearance, their largesse.
They listen, smile, and applaud.

One of them even comes up
with a book turned wrongside out
asking for an unseen autograph.

—Wisława Szymborska

“The Courtesy of the Blind” from MONOLOGUE OF A DOG: New Poems by Wisława Szymborska, translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh.

English translation copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Quote ~ Paulo Coelho “Don’t Give Up”


Don’t give up. Normally it is the last key on the ring which opens the door.

Paulo Coelho