Sitting in the Bleachers
When my boys scatter my ashes at AT&T Park (no, not on the outfield-up in the bleachers, on the cement-so that I get to sit with them when they come to see the Giants), I will have no complaints about this here Disney ride called Life, with a capital L. I will have done all that I set out to do, and then some, with a feather or too for style.
What are my life’s achievements? Besides surviving my own antics growing up? I persevered though twenty-one months of military service, bitter and resentful inside, but placid and accommodating on the exterior. What else could I do? What I really wanted to do, was flee to Canada, but that took a lot more courage, than simply saluting, and saying, yes, your sergeantship, or something like that.
I earned an Army Commendation Medal, for-I know you’ll find this hard to believe-developing a new filing system for the 199th Personnel Service Company’s redeployment unit. Yes sir, I did have those ABC’s down cold. I earned a Good-Conduct Medal, which just means that I never got caught doing any of the things, about which I take so much delight in writing.
I have only filled out an application for one job in all my life, and I have never been fired from a job. I do not list that as an accomplishment of note, merely as a piece of trivia. I have never rescinded on a debt. I even make sure I take the empties back to the recycling center. I have only purchased one vehicle in my life, and I’ve never driven a motorcycle on the street. I hated the thought of airplanes for the first 58 years of my life; now I would get in a plane tomorrow, to fly to Ireland, and revel in every second of the experience.
I have worked with Annie to raise three sons, and agree with her that it was probably best that we had sons. By her own admission, Annie just never did get the hang of the hair thing, though I think her hair is splendiferous. That could be construed as a deal-breaker, that there one.
I have to tell you, I didn’t set my sights any higher than that. Along the way, in an effort to help facilitate the boys’ education, I went back to school to get my Credential, to keep the little Well Springs School open. That led to another path, down in town, a path that led among other places, through a door in the wall into Renaissance England. There I discovered that my students could do that, which I was no longer able to do: memorize the words of the Bard himself, and bring them alive on stage, for Laytonville, whether or not it was ready.
If there was ever anything I enjoyed more than hearing one student explain to another, why one word was emphasized in a line, over another, to express meaning, I do not know what that would be. Maybe to hear cast members patiently giving a synopsis to younger siblings’ friends, attending a night performance in the classroom. Cast members did not have to explain the play to their siblings. Ha! That had been going on for five months, so now siblings were able to explain it to others.
There was a climate at the middle school which embraced the whole concept of the theatre. It helped to have the influence of Black Oak Ranch, when it came to promoting that climate, because of all that goes on out there at Camp, in the summers. We tried to get everyone involved in one capacity or another, in the productions.
We had student actors, designers, painters, musicians, dancers, singers, sound-track makers, back stage directors, a lights crew, and a special costume designer and manufacturer, behind the scenes in Annie. We did a lot with a whole generation of talented individuals. What more than that could I have accomplished that would be worth bragging about in the Eternal Bleachers in the Sky?
Did I make a lot of money? As a teacher? Heck yes, at least when compared to a MacDonald’s worker, but who’s keeping tabs? Did I get my name in lights? Well, I tried recently, but will have to settle for the name-tag on the mirror in the bathroom that says, “Hello, my name is Mark O’Neill.”