I could probably publish a book containing all of the phrases and  zen sarcasms my dad uses….. and has used on me.  Some I used to hate, some are forgotten about only until the moment of their rebirth from my own mouth.  Some never made sense and some always made sense.  And, alongside these ‘John Geraghty’isms’, these zen sarcasms is a gravelly trail he actually walks….. and i get it…….

And….

This ‘way’ is found all throughout his house…. Every corner and square of flat space appear to be individual shrines to moments…. to people…… to deep pacts of conscience he holds with himself……..

On his walls, random palms strung behind paintings…. On a table near the hall, a leather bound bible pressed under hand written verses on cards of the Tao Te Ching…….

In his kitchen windowsill sit  growing, 2 pots of shamrock, a spindly rose branch (on it’s way to be a bush)…… a prism and a rosary hanging like cobwebs in opposite corners of the window frame……

And on his refrigerator…..lyrics to limericks, notes to himself ….. a note I’d written him 10 years ago about bean soup that i’d left for him in the fridge…..A brief photo history of my brother in the navy….. And newspaper clippings of ‘inspirational’ people…. stories…..

One day, I came to his kitchen, lost in the usual, preliminary visual sweep of his place…….. taking it all in….. taking all of him in and then settling into comfort………..This day there was a new clipping–one of a not so obvious inspirational individual.  My eyes began at the top….. Scanned over the freezer part of his refigerator shrine and down towards the bottom….. the place reserved for larger pieces….. My eyes grew wide and the burgeoning regular sense of empathy-brew boiled over into laughter when I saw this picture…… Yup.  I outright laughed…. bent over and cackling I screached,

“Dad!! What IS this?????”

My dad stood next to me, allowing me my moment.  Hands in his pocket, toothpick darting-twirling from his mouth, he said chucking

“Well, that poor boy….. can’t walk….. You know? When I get to feeling sorry for myself as I regularly do,  he reminds me that someone’s always got it worse”.

More convulsive laughter from me…… and on the recovery I yanked this clipping to look closer…….

‘That poor boy’ maybe 12…. maybe 18 years old, was indeed in a wheelchair.  He did indeed have some sort of palsy… suffered some brain injury at some point in the spectrum of his life thus far.  And in this moment…. in this picture…. he was laughing.  Spraying a hose…. getting drenched in the summer heat.

Dad remained at my side…. hands still in their pockets… toothpick still twirling……silent… and i grew quiet too…..

The initial absurdity of the photo that had struck me a few minutes ago was wearing off… evaporating into something else……and I carefully put it back under it’s magnet…..

More quiet…..

Finally, I playfully-teasingly shoved his shoulder, “You’re funny, dad”…. and brushed past him to sit down……

He turned, shoulders pulled like puppet strings by his self aware chuckle,

“Well my dear I Do need a lot of reminders”………..

I got it…..


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