by Calendar Hacksaw
"Veer, veer right at the 'Y'
Sorry I haven't written lately. You may remember me, Calendar Hacksaw. I scratched out some lines to you first in 1996 and continued scribbling columns for the Fence Post until I retired. I wrote my last column for the Fence Post in October of 2004. As I mentioned in more than one column, Calendar Hacksaw has no life to speak of, and lives pretty substantially on Irish music, smoking, and beer.
I have recently been the survivor of a serious illness. I suppose that I should have underlined the word recently so you could recognize it as a strictly literary device, foreboding of things to come in the next sentence. For ole' Calendar, things became as terminal as Grand Central Station.
Betty asked if I thought we should see a lawyer about a new Will. "Shucks," I said, "That's like asking a barber if he thinks you need a haircut."
And, you may have already guessed, things have changed dramatically for me. I have, in previous columns admitted to being cocky, arrogant, and way too "smart for my own good". That being said, I have undergone that ultimate transformation into an easier-to-get-along-with "spirit sort of guy". †I hope that I do not have to spell it out for you. I have, so to speak, "Crossed the Bar" in the Alfred Lord Tennyson sense. I have retired permanently and with great finality to that Big Cattle Ranch in parallel space about which the physicists debate when arguing string theory.
I suppose that the news of my demise is the cowpie in the punchbowl so to speak, but we might as well get this over with.
My daughter and wife will be able to fill in the blanks not covered regarding my transgressions. All of the written communications I received over the years from members of the Walker Basin community were sent to a recycling center somewhere in China.
For those of you who objected to some of my past observations, I can say only that good judgment comes from experience, and in my case a lot of experience comes from bad judgment. I take full responsibility!
"Three men were standing in line to get into Heaven one day. St. †Peter said,
'So what's your story, did you bring this on yourself?'
"So the first man replies, 'I was just walking along minding my own business when I see a strange man go into my apartment building. He is wearing a bowler hat and smoking a cigar. For awhile I've suspected my wife has been cheating on me, so today was my chance to catch her red-handed. This guy with the cigar gets into the elevator and closes the door before I can get in. I watch it go to the 25th floor! I run up 25 floors to my apartment. †As I storm into my apartment, I smell cigar smoke and there is a bowler hat on the bed! My wife is in a state of what can only be described as 'undress'. I start looking anywhere this guy can possibly be hiding. Finally, I run out to the balcony, and sure enough, down below on the street, there is the hatless man running out the door of my building still smoking his cigar.
"I am livid with rage. I run into the kitchen, lift the fridge shove it over to the balcony and push it over the edge. I guess that all the stress and anger gets to me, and I have a heart attack and die there on the balcony.
"The second man comes up and Peter asks him, 'So what's your story?† Is any of this your fault?'
" 'Heck no, I was just walking along minding my own business when I look up and see this refrigerator coming down at me!
"Peter asks the third man, 'So what's your story? Did you bring any of this on yourself?
" 'Heck no, I wasn't doing nothin', the man answers. 'I was just minding my own business inside a refrigerator tryin' to smoke my cigar..."
Hillbillies should never tell a joke without making a point.
I explained to my friend Wally when he told me that he was so sorry that I was dying and all, that he shouldn't worry none about it. I told him, "I brought it on myself". The way we live has a lot to do with how we end up.
I reckon you want to know what old folks like myself have figured out over a long lifetime. I should make you figure it out your own self, but you have been pretty good about stick'n round to hear this last bit so I will share with you the same things that the old Indian Chief told to me as he lay dying on the Oklahoma plains. The Chief was running from the Federal Indian Agents as well as his own tribe, all of whom were chasing after him for selling-out the treaty rights of his tribe to their gill-netting and casino monopolies. The Chief had also sold the tribe logo to a sports team in Idaho, an error in judgment for which he took full responsibility.
His wisdom I will now pass on to you:
"Never eat at a place called 'Mom's' ".
"Never play poker with a guy named 'Doc' ".
"Never throw hand-grenades in the dark."
So... now for me it is over. My last memories include a vision of my old dog Maggie being led away by the veterinarian's assistant who returns in a minute or two, handing me the empty collar and leash.
Suddenly I'm just a kid, sitting alone in the Crest Theater watching that young boy raise his rifle, with tears streaming down his face, as he sends Old Yeller, crazed by "hydrofoby" †to the Great Beyond.
And yep, as I said in that column, I came out of that theater with tears streaming down my face, too.
So now I gets' to wonder about those phrases like "the Great Beyond" or... "Going from darkness into the light". These homilies have connotations of an Afterlife and they foster that hopeful, egocentric and very human wish to "live on" in some capacity.
Being the simple cowboy I am, reckon I'd rather just say that I "kicked the bucket", or that I am now "Pushing up the daisies", and let it go at that. The only conceptual metaphor that comes to my mind is that of thinking of life as a battle. I never felt that I was in a battle for life, rather that I was more like a barn dance for life that I enjoyed for years. I danced long and hard and then went home dog-tired and longing for a good rest.
Love and Best Wishes to Betty my wife. Iím thankful for my lovely dancing daughter, Persephone. Iím thankful for my son Alpo with the sunny disposition. From him I learned that you get out of life what you put into it. I was always thankful for my dogs and that they got so excited when I returned home from a day on the mountain. Shucks, like I said before, if your dog don't have any use for you, it's likely no one else will either.
So... anyway, I am now in line... a long line of similar spirits waiting to answer some awkward questions being asked by some guys wearing white business suits with big feathered wings. There is also a choir of angels playing Martin guitars, Gibson mandolins, and Vega banjos.
The guys in the suits are filling out forms and handing out red or green cards. Word on the street is that you want the green ones.† If I ever get to the front of this line of sinners and figure how to fill out the paperwork, I may yet get a view of you down there and see my old cabin that I seemed never to finish repairing.†
I loved that cabin, I loved you folks, and the Walker Basin.† I remember my son's words as I would leave on the weekend in the old truck, "Work on the outhouse stink, Dad!" although, as I think that I may have mentioned once, it sounded more like, "Weíre all going to go to Disneyland!"