Archive for the ‘Essays’ Category

Three Ladies, Three Loves

Posted: November 13, 2016 in Essays
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Three Ladies, Three Loves
By Norton Nearly

Throughout a fortunate man’s life, there will be ladies and love, and the number that makes him whole is three. Three tenses of love: past, present and future.

Lady One creates the man, introduces him to the destination called love. She takes his hand and guides him along the learning curve of love. Lady One captures all his early love, protects it and helps it grow. Maybe Lady One lives long enough to meet Lady Two. But no matter if they meet, Lady Two helps Lady One become past tense.

My Lady One, Marion Francis, taught me more about love in our fifteen years than either of us knew while still together. Hers was a compassionate, high expectation, strict and proper curriculum. A teacher by trade, a teacher of love by instinct, she wiped the runny noses and bandaged the skinned knees expected of any good Mother, but she also wiped the literal arse of a crippled boy and patiently taught him how to walk again literally and figuratively at age nine. She handled a handful of a husband and raised two successful Lady Twos as well. My Lady One never met my Lady Two, but she set a high standard for many who auditioned for the role.

Lady Two takes the man’s heart on adventure, sailing over dangerous waters along new and different latitudes of love, to lands un-explorable by Lady One. Hand in hand, they probe the contours of the wilds of romance. She becomes the linguist in a new language of love. Lady Two will forever be present tense, regardless of the nouns, verbs and adjectives used to make a life together.

My Lady Two, Kimberly Ann, has been in this role for going on thirty years. We have fought like cats and dogs and have cuddled like kittens and puppies. Not much is hidden after thirty years of commitment, not middle of the night leg cramps or rush trips to the hairdresser to cover the grey. My Lady Two has tolerated endless stacks of books around the house and countless sticks of obsession, cut and drying, that I will some-day fashion into walking sticks. I have tolerated her lack of understanding of the value of a few too many drinks or being too much like one’s Father. I have learned to accept her constant satisfaction with life. Yes we are beyond the wild romance days, but the love remains like the primer coat of paint on a classic car. I have tried to walk out the front door a time or two, but with doorknob still in hand, have always realized there is nowhere else better to go. Her far less erratic hand has never even reached for the doorknob of exit. Making love once in the rain is exciting like the first time you win at tic-tac-toe. Making life continuously through countless storms is like beating a chess master. And Lady Two helps you create Lady Three.

Lady Three looks up to the man, knows him as her first love and as role model for all who are to follow. Once again the semantics of love change. She becomes the compass of life yet he must captain the ship upon which she sails. He and Lady Three learn together, as unbeknownst to him, so did Lady One and he. The Lady Three topography is one of unknown adventure; future tense.

My Lady Three, Kathaleen Marion overwhelmed my heart in ways even One and Two could not. The innocence, desire and uncompromising trust of my little girl has mysteriously fulfilled me. Her joy is mine, her pain magnified in me. I know how to love fully because of One and Two, but Three is the lucky recipient of my smart, skillful, unwavering love. And now I am beginning to see her initial investigations into potential Man Twos. You see, it goes the other way as well; in a fortunate woman’s life there will be three men, three loves.

So much is the same and so much is unique in each of these three loves. They are life’s journey’s fuel tank. The Mother fills an empty tank. The Wife keeps the tank full. The Daughter begins the inevitable emptying.

Yes, I have loved three ladies. And I am whole.


An Argument Against Average
By Norton Nearly

One Saturday afternoon when my daughter was eleven, she came home from a sleepover a bit disgruntled with dear old Mom and Dad, mostly Dad. Immediately upon entry into our home, just as Mommy and Daddy were reaching out to welcome her home, she accosted.

“Everyone watches professional football except one oddball family…us”

Huggy arms retracted rather quickly, kinda looking and feeling like a worm drying out on a hot sidewalk. I was not happy with teen-ager attitude spewing forth between the newly-braced teeth of my eleven-year-old. But I took the positive path and explained that I used to be a huge football fan, but quit in a well-reasoned decision to become more actively engaged in doing over watching. I reasoned that since I piloted a desk all week, I needed to commit more free time to active outdoor pursuits. I chose to hike, bike, paddle, camp and the like.

This guy went on to explain that in her Dad’s humble opinion, it was not only ok, but in fact preferable to be an oddball. Thank you very much for the compliment dear daughter. Katie, like me, was more of an oddball than she knew and anyway, there was no freakin way she could sit still and watch a football game for four hours.

I figured it made sense to look up the word oddball in the dictionary. The American Heritage Dictionary defined oddball as a person marked by eccentric behavior or thinking. What a compliment…right? The dictionary went on to say that a synonym for oddball is weirdie. Now that’s a weird word I thought. I always thought the synonym for oddball was weirdo. So I looked up weirdie and it said, an unusually strange person, thing or event, synonym: weirdo. OK, finally things were kinda coming full circle. So then I figured I should look up the root word, weird which said, of an odd and inexplicable character. None of this was bothering me a bit. I rather like being a weirdie. Daughter tends to tire of my forays into dictionaryville, even to this day, but she went along. That is until I opined rather exuberantly that weird itself is a weird word. I mean, isn’t the rule i before e except after c? Therefore shouldn’t weird be spelled wierd? Who decided that it would be clever to spell wierd in a weird way? This is the point at which I lost daughter’s attention much as I am probably losing you right now…but really isn’t that a bit wierd? I mean weird.

Our conversation recovered a bit after the whole dictionary fiasco. Katie came around to understanding that doing what everyone else does is not automatically a good thing. She realized that her outfit choices all her life sort of exemplified her individuality, even oddballness. As we talked she came to see the positives in being oneself even when that is in opposition to the norm. Successful conversation.

Later that day, I landed on an idea. I like to show things as much as talk about things. I went out to the shed and dug out the old 1970’s girl’s banana bike that had been collecting spider webs and snake skins for about 25 years. While Katie was playing with kids across the street, I cleaned and polished and lubed and repaired and aired-up tires. I put the now spiffy banana bike on the front sidewalk facing her homeward path.

I added a sign that said, “from one oddball to another, Love Daddy.”

She was a happy little non-teen-ager-imitating little girl when she came home. She knew that no other kid in the neighborhood had a bike like hers. She still rides it occasionally and will never let me sell it. Score a touchdown for the oddballs.