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Gerald, the farmer. That’s not a title I ever thought I might stand by but, in some respects, it’s here now with me.

No, from the get go I announced as a small boy of four and then for some years after that I was, in fact, Gerald the Great! I’d march around our house with my wooden sword held high while my friends herded behind me proclaiming that, “I am Gerald the Great!”

There could be no doubt about my title. It was so well forecast by my mom’s natural golden shining hair and red lipped sweet smiles. My dad’s ever present smooth countenance, a demeanor so calm he could part the red sea with a single whisper, this man, too, had such a force his words gave swords to my armies.

I paraded armies of plastic men about the house for years, moving huge numbers of troops from room to room seeking the high ‘couch’ ground to gain advantage over an invisible foe. In fact, I directed and starred in these plastic men battles for so long I’m sure my mom must have wondered if, “The Nut case!”, should be added to the title, “Gerald the Great!”

I could never know the joy my first baby girl would give me.

Back then, I had to listen to the birds; the wind. I’d run across fields of dandelion knowing my song was in the air, that the sparkle in the dew upon the grass called. It was never hard to climb our apple trees highest limbs, catch, hit or throw the ball or balance precariously to walk across a 2X4 beam laid upon the ground. Life came easy..

Most mornings, the house rang of piano music played by my beautiful red-haired sister or mother whose apple pies usually scented the air by 10 AM. Perhaps, this is why when it came time for me to go to school I confidently announced that I wasn’t going to go. Of course, this is the first time I had to realize being, Gerald the Great, had its kinks.

I was the daydreamer in school; the birds were still singing. The white clouds seemed so much more appealing to see than the chalk streaks upon the black board. Schools friends were like brothers and the girls, so much smarter and with long hair, were fascinating.

 Sixth grade graduation…I’m in the back row, 6th from the right.

I drafted behind my brother’s spotless lead and fell into sports, wrestling from 3rd grade on, jostling lacrosse sticks on the field and running the football behind great blockers.

Ed placed third in the Nationals while wrestling for Harvard.

.

Music gave me a push, too. Wait!!! Whahaha, this is a very old photo and worn around the top left but if you click on it the picture seems to show my head smoking!!!!

It was my freshmen year of high school when my best friend, Bob Russo, and I attended a camp in Marlboro, Vermont, as counselors. One night, he slipped beneath the lake waters and never came back up. I’d been there, on the shore, but in the full moon light I was unable to locate his call for help. As daunting as that moment was to carry from then on, Gerald the Great, didn’t exactly go to the bottom of that lake with my friend that night, not entirely.  It’s  true, a part of me never left that shore line, but the burning embers of new love kept my glow alive through most of my remaining High School years. Thing is, Gerald the Great, did lose that night and I may have never found my way back.

Death has a nasty habit of sticking around, forever.

Life has a great way of moving on whether you’re ready to or not.

It seems we run to our shadows as we live.*

It’s years later, now, after the death of my friend. Of course, like most of us who live to my age, I’ve seen quite a few loved ones pass. I’m not sure if I see them best in the sunrise now or find them coming back most often during the sunset hours.  It’s all a wonder.

I had a renter, Ralph, a Vietnam combat vet who struggled with chemical poisoning. I liked, Ralph, and visited him often for no reason but friendship. One day like any other, he sat me down in his living room and told me this.

“Gerry, I appreciate your help here with the trailer; living here has been great. I’ve been going to the VA for several years now and they say my time is up. This is why I moved up here; to go to the VA.  Why I watch these damn combat dramas I don’t know.” Ralph turned off his TV set off. “Thing is, I was  in Sunrise , Florida, before I came here and one morning I decided to walk from my place all the way over a long bridge and make my way to the ocean. I saw a beautiful sunrise and heard a voice tell me that I’d make something out of my life yet. Now, I’m just dying; I’ve done nothing.”

I liked, Ralph. I hated to see his sunken shoulders, to hear his words. During my 14 years in retail I’d had complete strangers come up to my leather stands and announce they were dying, but this was Ralph, my friend. That I never knew his situation hit me like a dagger.

“Listen, Ralph, none of us can say what we have done when it comes to other lives. It’s that old image of a pebble being thrown into a pond; we ripple our lives through others in ways we don’t know.” We talked for hours.

 I found myself hoping I’d created waves with my life.

Funny, but I never went on to tell him how he’d rippled through me, and most of that I didn’t even hold at the time. Ralph passed two weeks later.

So, the point for, Gerald the Great, as the throes of life and death have surrounded me, is it came as no surprise to learn later on that I’d actually come from a long line of famous soldier regiments that fought around the world back in the 1750’s.

 

This is the palace where Von Franquemont’s were trained in math and warfare.

No, for me, I guess this time called life has always been a battle to win. Maybe, did I win? I have to think.

The rain came lightly down today as I picked our garden with the company of Shadow, my ever-loving dog.

I thought about a great friend, Anne, who just this past month told me the doctors had said she’d be dead by then. Her smile was no less bright; the warmth and compassion from her is no less spectacular than anything that ever was. Sometimes, this battle called life seems too much.

Anne is so much to so many. It feels as though she could never leave. She’s a tsunami of joy for the living spirit world.

I came in to leave this storm of thought carrying my produce to wipe the rain off my brow, pat down my dog and have some tea. It was time to regroup; time to kindle flames. It’s time to find the high ground, hit the couch, maybe read. I still hear the birds.

The young give me hope.

One day, Gerald the Great, may march around this house once more and if I do I’ll have to proclaim, “I never saw so much coming.”

Warm cheers for May

Franque23

 

 

*This is my son-in-law and our grandson.

 

 

 

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