Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipses...then and now

Den of the Beastly Bear

Howdy Folks,
 I sit in the grass next to my Father as the Eclipse begins. I take a hit from the bottle of Jack and pour a measure for him. The Perdomo 10th. Anniversary Champagne Noir cigar I'm smoking wafts it's snow white smoke skyward as I pick a stray piece of grass from Dad's tombstone. It's something he would have liked, smooth and mellow much like the man himself...well in his later years at least. My Father would have been 80 today you see, were it not for the Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

 I'm suddenly struck by a coincidence; I was sitting next to my Father, drinking Jack Daniels during the last Eclipse I witnessed.
Well over thirty years ago, my family would go camping during the Fourth of July Holiday. It was an annual pilgrimage made by several families together, some friends, some relatives.

 This one night a group of the guys was sitting around the campfire, my Dad, Uncle Bob and a few other adults and three teenage boys, myself included. Uncle Bob produced a half gallon bottle of Jack Daniels (my Fathers spirit of choice), cracked the seal and started passing the bottle around. The first several passes skipped the teenagers until Jack started working his magic and the rules were relaxed.

 I remember vividly the huge full moon that warm July night, the smell of the fire and the distant trill of frogs and crickets looking for love. The talk was warm and companionly, gentle ribbing and chuckles at this one's expense, before moving that one as a target. This was a special night, and we were allowed to stay up late with the adults as there was to be a lunar eclipse that night.
The hours wore on, the bottle emptied. On this pass, as it got to my Father, he stood up from the log we were both sitting on and hoisted the bottle high. Once certain he had everyone's attention he spoke, with much bravado for my quiet Father.
"I was in the Marine Corps., been around this crazy world and I've been drunk on damn near everything there is to be drunk ON,  and I'll tell you...there is NOTHING better than Jack Daniels!"
With that, he raised the bottle to his lips, tipped it back to take a mighty swig and stopped short.
"Well, will ya look at THAT!" He said, gesturing at the sky "Something's eating the moon!!!" He then, very uncharacteristically ...giggled.

Which of course set us all into gales of laughter, Uncle Bob went to relieve my Dad of the bottle and said "I think you've had just about enough there...." but as he reached for the bottle he tripped over a root, stumbled into my Dad, and they both went over the log!
As quick as they were down, my Dad bounced back up...stared into the bottle and exclaimed: "Didn't spill a drop!"

I smiled at the memory, poured the last bit of Jack on Dad's grave.
Ground out the butt of my cigar, held the bottle high and said: "Well, will ya look at that...something's eating the sun!"

There was no laughter this time, just a single tear.

Be Well Folks, 
Treasure your parents while you have them, for time is shorter than you think.


  1. Great story! I love how you tied in the eclipse.

  2. This was so incredibly moving.. I just have no words.. Beautiful Joe and I'm so sorry.. <3

    1. Thank you Karen, it's funny but the whole thing had kind of slipped my mind until I was sitting there...