Not a wink. Not a wonder.

It wasn’t unexpected.

It was going to happen one day. Some day. The handwriting’s been on the wall for a while.

When did my stepmother first mention she wanted to sell their house? The house that she and my father shared? A year ago?

It wasn’t the house I grew up in. But it was the only house I’ve known as home. It was the home my father designed and built in some part. It was my dad’s home and therefore also mine — in its way.

My father is no longer there. He is no longer here.

Rationally, I understand why my stepmother would sell the house. The reasons are numerous and sound.

What the mind knows however is not always so easy for the emotional self to grasp and accept. It takes time. It’s a process.

It was inevitable, the selling of my dad’s house, well, their house technically.

But it’s his presence that’s there, that reigns, from its design to the yard that he created — beautiful grasses and trees and shrubs and cacti — all from a blank canvas of dry hard southern Utah desert dirt.

My dad was — is — a genius craftsman especially with land.

Yesterday’s email from my stepmother informed me that it looks like the sale is going through with a closing date next month.

On one level, the emotional level, that means the end draws near. The house / home that’s been in my family — dad and to a certain extent my stepmother and their dog being my family — is soon to leave the family.

For good. For ever.

I’ve got stuff to process.

It also means I need to go there and get my things stored in their garage. For the past 10 years. Yikes. It’s really been that long?!

That stuff needs to get cleared out. It’s needed to be cleared outta there for a while now. Fortunately — and I do mean fortunately! — I scaled down what feels like, to this minimalist, a mountain of stuff into a hill during my last stay in Utah in 2013.

I was brutal in what I saved and what got donated to the thrift store. I lightened the load considerably.

Still. It’s a load.

An important and precious load consisting primarily of furniture my dad crafted (he embraced custom woodcrafting as a working trade later in life), family photos, my high school annuals, writings, significant stuffed animals and other treasured items from my past..

Assorted kitchen items — i.e., a fire-engine red Kitchen Aid mixer and a complete set of basic dishes from I believe Japan from my mother — are in the mix too.

All that stuff I want to keep with no place to go, most of it, save into another storage unit.

Because no way can my current space — a rental mobile home — accommodate even 1/16th of that load!!

The stuff you own owns you.

As a nomad who’s moved some 54 times, give or take, I know the truth of that better than anyone!

I like simple. I like minimal. I like having just what I need and not a LOT more.

I’m neither a packrat nor a clutter collector. On the contrary, I have problem KEEPING things! Moving frequently — by yourself and ONLY with what you can get in your car — will teach a girl that!

I’m rambling. Point is, yesterday’s email from my stepmother stirred up a LOT of emotions.

Concerns.

Worries.

Thoughts.

I slept {this much}. Wasn’t until 6 a.m. when I fell into a light slumber punctuated by restlessness and wake-ups.

“Rummy” does describe my state today. 🙂

Ditto “long night ahead.” I work from 7 p.m. to past midnight. I need to be awake and alert. Could be a challenge.

Missed sleep. No sleep. Leaves me feeling like I’m traipsing through mud. I’m 58. Not 22. We old-timers can’t handle all-nighters, neither do we bounce back quickly.

So there’s that.

And there’s SOO much more happening beneath the surface. So much stirred up by a single email that announces: It looks like the sale of the house is going through. With a closing date only weeks away.

The house of my dad. His house, well, their house technically. His home.

It is no wonder that, despite valiant efforts with every passing hour, I couldn’t sleep. Not a wink. No wonder at all.

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the Pharaoh and his tempestuous disobedient slave

Was all geared up for the day’s writing prompt from “The Writer’s Book of Days.”

Open to the page and March 8 prompt. Night.

Feel like I’ve done that one to death! No word play intended. Death – darkness – night.

So I’m gonna pass, which I rarely do on prompts, and write on a subject that’s near but not dear to my heart.

Slavery. More precisely, breaking the bonds of slavery.

I am a slave and was enslaved, from a very young tender age, by a father who was tyrannical, authoritative, cruel, brutal, oppressive, suppressive and domineering. It was his way or no way; the only in-betweens were World War IIIs.

He had his very good side, definitely. He was very intelligent, observant, witty, original in thought, perceptive, non-conforming and especially creative.

Whether it was a paint brush, wood carving tool or landscaping implement in his hand, he was a genius. He crafted everything to stunning perfection or very nearly so. He was an artist and artisan with incredible and rare attention to detail. (People generally don’t care about quality any longer.) He was a precisionist. In those aspects particularly, my father and I are two peas in a pod.

I love my father to death.

And am the first to acknowledge that he was not an easy man or an easy person. He intimidated everyone. Most adult neighbors didn’t like him and/or feared him. Friends of mine and my sister’s mostly refused to come to our house to play because they too feared him.

Growing up under his thumb was hell. Is hell. The branding marks remain on the inside, where no one sees them.

Slavery. These are deep and complicated issues that I’m not gonna write about, for many reasons. Instead, I wish to focus on breaking the shackles of slavery.

* * *

How is it done? I do not know.

Humankind has had slaves since before Christ. I’m not a Biblical or religious person — AT ALL! At all.

I’m the first to admit that my Bible knowledge is about zilch. Years ago, however, prompted by my own Valley of Darkness (speaking of the “night” prompt) in Washington state, I did plod my way through the Old Testament.

It was slow going and not really enjoyable. But by plodding onward (interspersed admittedly with plenty of skimming), I came to learn of the Egyptians’ oppression and enslavement of the Jews and their eventual release by Moses.

It is a historical tale of tremendous importance in meaning, symbolism, metaphor and actuality for mankind. For me as well (though, as I wrote, not in any Christian, religious or faith-based perspective.) I leave it to scholars and others with far more knowledge and understanding of history than I to dissect the most widely-read book in the world.

I do like how this particular person captured it here:

“Finally, in order to truly identify with the exodus from Egypt, we must understand how we have been (and continue to be) freed. The Jewish redemption from slavery meant the ability to serve God instead of Pharaoh. Our freedom from slavery does not mean freedom from acting on behalf others, but rather it means the ability to choose how we will serve others.”

* * *

The only God I’ve known is my father. He was God in the House (in both my childhood and adulthood). His force was the force of God. His anger and rage. His dictates were never to be questioned or challenged. Not without penalty and severe consequences. His thumb upon everyone in the home (not just me by any means!) was real. Forceful. Mighty. Unyielding. Controlling. He was more than a tyrant. He was the Pharaoh of Egypt. He was God.

We were a family with no religion or secular faith. I’ve no problem with that. I’m not conventional or a sheep or a follower. I question and I challenge and I think and I arrive at my own conclusions. I’m rebellious and defiant and abhor authority.

My father, last I heard, was an atheist. My mother may’ve had belief in God. If she did, she certainly didn’t draw from it or display it in any way in terms of protecting me. (She was not a good mother or well woman; I shall leave it at that.)

She briefly gave “religion” a go by taking me and my sister to the Unitarian church (dad stayed home). Which, as you should know if you don’t already, is about as non-churchy and non-religious as it gets!

That so-called church-going didn’t stick. No loss.

Outside my father, I’ve no concept of God. Not really. I’ve had innumerable moments, experiences (including life-threatening) and encounters that can be understood and explained only as revelations of a greater force and power. A Divine Intelligence. An Intelligent Universe. (Note that I said an intelligent universe, NOT an intelligent people!)

Life itself suggests a creative power and source that some would call God. My father, despite his authority as God, did not create this world. That may seem obvious but in fact is not to a child under an oppressive dictates and thumb of an other.

Circling back to slavery and breaking the bonds.

Moses has not stepped into my life to open the gates and lead me away from the torments and imprisonments under the Egyptians. I’d be a fool to wait around for him to appear!

What I lack is obvious to me. A trust in life being good. Because it hasn’t been, rather, more precisely, was not from newborn infancy. A trust in people being good. Because they have not been. A trust in a greater power that is not only benign (a huge leap itself) but one that sees each of us individually and cares. I’ve no sense of that; my childhood imparted none of that.

I have no faith. I did not just arrive at that in a day. Life experience taught me.

In short, the “f-word” to me is not the bad word. My f-word is “faith.”

* * *

I’m sitting here trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.

I do not mean every moment for the next 20-30 years or whatever I’ve got left. My father is gone, to the Other Side, that is, and not that long ago. I struggle and grapple with it as any true human being would. I am forever changed by the loss of my significant parent.

Yet his markings — his brandings by the Iron Fist — remain. They’re not scars yet. They’re wounds. Hurts and pains raw and bloody still, nowhere close to being scabbed over.

Too often I continue to think like that slave that he made me be and the slavery forced upon me.

Too often I continue to be confined and defined by his brutalities and limitations imposed upon me, nee forced down my soulful throat.

Too often I think of the punishments and hardships that await me rather than the dreams that might release me from Darkness.

Too often I think of Death as my relief and release rather than of the Light in my own soul. I think of his intelligence rather than my own. His enormous creativity rather than my own. His pains rather than my own. His nightmarish childhood rather than my own. His dictates rather than my own inner compass of deep morality, integrity and honesty.

It’s that that I surrounded into an invisible acquiescent nobody. If my father is the Pharaoh, then I am/was his tempestuous and rebellious slave.

I fought him and his dictates tooth and nail. I fought him to preserve my life. I fought him with all the force my little stature and big intelligent mind could muster.

But I always lost. Always. He was bigger than I. A fucking lot stronger than I. Had greater force than I. He held the controls. The authority. The power. The whip. He WAS God. I stood up and pushed back more than anyone else in the family (including a shitty mother who supposedly protects and loves her child) and I paid dearly.

* * *

I’m not sure why this is being written today. Perhaps it’s partly because I’ve got a birthday in a week (ditto my sister). We’re getting up there in the years. Aging’s got a way of challenging and altering one’s perceptions and viewpoints in life.

There’s more to it than just the impending birthdays. What to do with my life without my dad’s imposing unyielding God dictates is up for discussion. How to break the enslavement is a massive question.

And since I am unconvinced that God exists, or cares, to whom do I turn for guidance?

To whom do I pray for higher knowledge, wisdom and guidance at this challenging time?

My dad “bashed me” in the head and shoved his will down my throat time. Who hears my voice? Who can hear my heart? Who will listen? Does anyone listen? Is anyone there?

* * *

“Night” was today’s writing prompt.

Turns out this post, without intent, is aligned after all.

As a nocturnal creature, I favor and know more about night than day. Too, I know more about Darkness than Light. Slavery than Freedom. I know more about an other’s will imposed upon me than my own, free to be, free to live.

In closing, I circle back to the above excerpt: “The Jewish redemption from slavery meant the ability to serve God instead of Pharaoh.”

Remove “Jewish” from that statement — ethnocentricity is unnecessary and limiting; slavery is a human matter — and I’d concur.

At this time of my life and on the cusp of a birthday closer to death than birth, I’ve much to contemplate. I’ve much to learn about how it is that one — that I — break the chains and bondages of slavery … when there may or may not be a God.

No margins, no markers and my dad in a Mooney

Write about the horizon.

January 15 prompt, “A Writer’s Book of Days”

The horizon.

Not as we recognize. The horizon we know is where sky and Mother Earth intersect in a vast line as far as the human eye can see. Mother Earth in all her expressions. Craggy mountains. Irregular hills. The flat plains. Waterless desert. Sea. Oh she who sings to me, the sea!

All are possible in a horizon. The topography dictates. Changing topography dictates the horizon that we see. The singular constant is the sky.

There is another horizon. A horizon unknown or unseen most likely to you. To most. The artificial horizon in the cockpit of an airplane.

My father was a pilot. Is still a pilot on the other side. I know that our greatest passions, gifts, character strengths continue with us in our soul journey beyond Earth.

My father and mother had, in short, a marriage from purgatory. Not every moment of their waking hours. They had their good times. And those good times became fewer and fewer as years passed. My sister and I are definitely products of parents who chose to remain together for the kids. {Ain’t a pole long enough to touch that topic!}

Anyhow, an unhappy and contentious marriage it was for decades. Around 32 years it was, until the kids were gone and they final decided to part ways, thank GOD!

Still.

My mother was a thoughtful person. “Was.” She’s still here, physically. She is no one I care to write about or even talk about in a therapist setting. Mother is as loaded a word as there could be. Nonetheless, she was a thoughtful person.

It was one of the last Christmases that we had as a fucked-up family that we were. My parents were about 50. That Christmas, my mother gave my father something that exemplified her thoughtfulness. Moreover, it remains to this day I would say the greatest gift that my father ever received: flying lessons.

The world opened up for my father. He needed that. Aviation turned his world upside down and inside out, in all the best of ways. Flying lessons were a ticket to freedom, in the most literal sense. I never knew my dad had such the inner pilot within until I saw him and flying meet.

{I did often say that my dad “missed a calling” as a military general and fighter pilot; not that it was his calling, he was an artist in this lifetime, but those deep deep undertones of military general/fighter pilot strongly existed.}

It started “small” of course. Lessons in a presumably 2-seater at the local airport. My father was not an easy man but he was a brilliant one. Actual genius IQ. The science and physics of flying, the maps, the numbers, all of it made sense to him. It was his language.

Time went on. The flying continued and grew. Eventually he got his instrument rating. NOT an easy achievement for those unfamiliar with aviation.

Once he achieved that, his world truly opened up in the BIGGEST of ways. He got his own plane, a 4-seater Mooney. His instrument rating meant he could fly through white-knuckling thunderstorms. Into treacherous weather with zero visibility.

He and my mother, who had no love of flying but did enjoy traveling, traveled all over the country and up into Canada. Remote towns. Odd places. My dad was — is — an eclectic unconventional person who marches to a different drummer. Correction: flies.

For decades, he got to do what I swear he loved doing more than anything. Flying his Mooney. Life happened. Finally he had to give up the plane. By then, he was ready to be free of the responsibilities and I reckon challenges that health and more brought to flying.

But. There’s one more untold piece to the story.

My dad and I had a complex complicated relationship. I would dare to touch that with a 100-foot pole, not in a public forum. Not your damn business, to be frank.

One day my father and I went flying in his Mooney. Rare — extraordinarily rare — were the times that my dad and I did anything as father-daughter, except battle. Later in life we talked. A lot. Not stuff personal. Issues. Philosophy. Politics. Our minds synched.

I was of course an adult by the time of this story. Approaching 50, now that I think of it, about the same age dad took up flying.

I was staying with him and my stepmother in southern Utah. We went flying. Just dad and me. Over the gorgeous red rock of  southern Utah. It was clear how connected my dad felt to that part of our country. The stunning red rock, the peaks, formations, the interplay of shadows and light (he has quite the photographer’s eye). That love of desert and rock wedded with his love of flying … my dad was in his element in an airplane above land he loved.

Just I and my dad in the plane. It was midday. Hot in a small plane. Almost stuffy. Ain’t like a car where you can just roll down a window! Altitude: maybe 3-4,000 feet. Everything’s small, compact, close in a small plane. You feel EVERY pocket of turbulence, every bounce of current, every nuance of wind, orientation and disorientation depending on conditions. Inside a small plane is flying at its most intimate and incomparable to commercial aircraft.

Every plane has an instrument called an attitude indicator. Known by other names including artificial horizon. It’s an image of a tiny plane set on a line that indicates the horizon.

Attitude indicator example

Attitude indicator example

The attitude indicator informs a pilot of a plane’s attitude, pitch and bank. It indicates, importantly, the position of the plane relative to the Earth’s horizon. From a cockpit, in inclement weather or higher altitude, there is no horizon visible to the eye. There is only: space. A vast sea of gray or blue with no visual markers or signage. No horizon. Only naked space.

The artificial horizon. I’ve seen it up close and personal. I’ve seen its tiny plane shift, rise and fall under my dad’s piloting. I’ve seen looking straight out a cockpit whose edges are at my eye level nothing save bright afternoon sky. I’ve seen it my own eyes up close and personal, a land with no margins or markers, only limitless horizonless sky.

There’s more to the story of me and my dad that afternoon in the air that I’d intended but I guess now wasn’t the time to share it after all. Perhaps I will another day, perhaps I won’t.

For now, it’s sufficient to write a wave and a hello to my dad up there. Not here, there. His love of aviation surviving his passing.

I still see him abruptly halting our conversations on the backyard patio in Utah and shooting his focus upward to any small plane that passed over, identifying it with his one good eye.

Still see him in his Mooney, at home, his knowledge of its workings intimate (he not only flew but got beneath to work on her mechanics), his skills grounded and impeccable. I trusted my dad piloting a plane more than I would trust ANYONE at a stick. I say that not because he’s my dad but for the person (and pilot) he was.

He could be trusted wholly in the air. Were something to fall amiss, he had the foundation of aviation knowledge, exceptional skills, abilities, the mind and the comprehensive understanding, earned from untold hours of flying, to respond mindfully and intelligently. He was not one to panic. He was one to rise to the challenge and command.

And he did not suffer fools. Not in a plane. He eventually took on students — verrrry selectively. If a student showed that he was unteachable, i.e., was undisciplined, unfocused, casual, arrogant, a know-it-all, he was out. Lucky but rare was the student taught to fly under my dad.

He was a true navigator of aviation with superior skills and intelligence. He was a man who got seated in his passion, perhaps his dream, late in life.

He was a man who loved to fly in a sky with no horizon … with an artificial horizon, guiding.