life · · 4 min read

He Ain’t Got A Prayer

The character is an old man who was never religious. Now death is near and he only has religion. He feels like it’s not enough. He needs something more to face death. He needs something to soothe his spirit and the spirits who will shortly come and take him away.

He Ain’t Got A Prayer
Photo by Euri Giles

My dad's son is in jail, again. It's not me. Yesterday Mom showed him the postcard that was sent from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. You could tell he had written it with a dull pencil that was too short from being oversharpened and must have fit awkwardly in his hand. Next court date, some information about the judge, an email for a public defender maybe? Oh, and he wrote the words "trust God" underneath "Proverbs 3:5-6".

No acknowledgment that I could see to indicate that he got the message about Dad having kidney cancer. Maybe it's his way of asking for help so that he's not in jail when Dad dies. Maybe it's just another con. Maybe I'll talk about him more later on, but it's been a long time since I've called him... Brother.

I walked with Dad today. After I gave him a haircut and a shower, and before he had breakfast. Today was bacon and eggs. He likes to feel the sun on his face. We did a few laps around the front yard until Mom called from inside that his breakfast was ready.

Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011. I’m not sure about the exact date, I don’t remember feeling any sort of way about it until the following year, a short time after my daughter was born.

Dad was superficially optimistic. He was going to, “beat it”.

I was ignorantly appeased. I moved to a different city a few months later and left my parents to age out of my sight.

Meanwhile, my dad kept creating as best he could. Researching, reading, taking notes, and writing down, “article ideas” in one of the spiral notebooks in his office.

“The Rebellion Against, Aging — How do we effectively reject losing our physical and mental abilities?”

It became apparent recently that he was feeling a certain way about his life & imminent death years before his diagnosis.

12/03/2008 — Short Story idea — “He Ain’t Got A Prayer”
A story about preparing for death with all the social tools you can muster.
— The character is an old man who was never religious. Now death is near and he only has religion. He feels like it’s not enough. He needs something more to face death. He needs something to soothe his spirit and the spirits who will shortly come and take him away.

Notes upon notes about aging, anti-aging, spirituality, mortality, and suicide…

I never spoke to him about any of this. Every conversation we had from 2012 to the summer of 2017 when I finally moved my family back to our hometown to be close to him, and help out how I could, went just about the same way each time…

Pleasantries and platitudes. Conversations to pass the time, about whatever, the weather, how things were going for me at work, and how he had always intended to end his career as a freelance writer blogging, and trying to put a few extra dollars in his pocket, and also how,

"Everything was just a bunch of bullshit anyway."

He’d smile at me and turn his head ever so slightly as if to ask, “You know what I’m talking about?”

Yeah, man! I know that’s right.

Even though he’s still alive… I miss him…
Even though he’s still alive… I miss him…

I’m having trouble remembering him when he was happy… He seems like he wants to let go.

A man of science. Now suffering from Alzheimer’s, he may or may not answer if you were to ask him if he believes in God.

He was not absent of faith, yet solitary in his spirituality.

He didn’t actively practice a religion or attend church, although he often talked about faith, and believing in something bigger than himself.

Early in his life, his writings were philosophical, questioning religious beliefs and making comparisons of religion, science, and exploration.

He wrote the following poem in 1970 when he was about to turn 25 years old. Now, 54 years later, and about to turn 79, he is nearing the end of his life. I wish he could tell me what he thought about what he wrote, but Alzheimer’s has robbed him of that possibility.

Here is what he wrote then, about his idea of what happens to our souls when we die:

From meteor to meteor, asteroid to asteroid, through the timeless empty mass of a faded meteoric storm.
I have transversed the universe already an uncountable number of times, and for what? Only to find the same thing as when I left.
The same cluttered void. This was and probably is the only bit of void that has a mass, which is solely contributory to the combined masses of its void.
Hopping from one life-giving nebulae to another, trying hard to osmotically receive the life-giving secret of the nebulae.
Then only to cast shiftlessly and endlessly from one dead star to another.
Your body fragmented by the solar stormed surfaces of the celestial bodies of space and time.
I am weary now, and I must rest like the dead star; in a silence of atmospheric serenity.
— C.R.G. – March, 6, 1970

He deserved to write his story…

He deserves to rest. I pray for him. I'll pray for his son. Maybe I'll look him up when Dad dies.


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