Men of a Greater Generation
I've been hinting at this for quite some time, never really tackling it here because...well, because I don't really know how. Imagine that? Me, who typically has diarrhea of the mouth, unable to figure out how to write about a subject.
John LAYTON (I had previously written Saunders...I am such a tool. I can never remember who is who in Jennifer's enormous family. I am so sorry John...) is Jennifer's grandfather on her Mom's side. He has been battling lung cancer for a very long time. In fact, he has very much been one of the many inspirations for me to quit the habit. He did a long time ago.
It has felt like an eternity that he has been fighting this. He's beaten it before, but this last round, it came back with a strength that even John has struggled with. And this is a man who does not struggle, even at his age, he was just last Spring playing nine holes.
The man is a Fighter.
And other than myself, I can't think of any man who I have ever seen more emotionally wrecked over what happened to Bennett. I do not know why, exactly. I have never really had the courage to ask him.
It isn't something you ask a man like this. I mean, granted, I have issues with male authority figures anyway, but John has always...intimidated me more than most, and I don't mean from fear or anything, more from...awe.
He comes from a generation that I have an almost Superman-like respect for. I can't get past it. And when I am in the company of men like him I feel like an insect. I know he doesn't see me that way, but it's how I feel, mainly because I am pretty much the polar opposite of anything he is.
I can do so little on my own. He can MacGyver pretty much anything.
That is just what people in his generation DID.
They always did it themselves. They figured it out.
You didn't call a repairman. Most people didn't have the cash. And there was a pride, an honor in being hands on, in having skills, in being...well, a man.
Some people in my generation have man skills. But those guys, the ones I know, had fathers. I didn't. I do not have ANY man skills. None.
And sadly, I have none to pass on to my boys, who I am very much afraid will be more pussified than I am. It makes me wonder. Am I beyond that now, at 43? Should I take a lesson from John and learn as much as I can now in the hope that maybe I can teach something to my sons, or at least Carter, that he can actually USE that is hands on?
I don't know.
I have only ever seen tears in John's eyes maybe two or three times in my life, not that I have known him long, only as long as I have been in Jennifer's life, which is a little over ten years, but those times were over Bennett. He had some kind of special connection with Bennett I can't describe. But it was a very strong bond.
I think his choice to fight for as long as he has in a battle that takes so much out of you had, among other things, a lot to do with Bennett, wanting to see Bennett make progress towards what we ALL want, real communication, something maybe even like he used to have before the surgery.
John died yesterday afternoon, at home, with family. He fought so hard for so long, but his fight...is now over.
He can finally rest. Be at peace.
Very selfishly, I wish I had overcome my awe and asked him my questions. Very selfishly, I wish I could have my Faith restored. But I can't.
I want it back, but it isn't something you can wave a wand over and magically find returned to you. Especially when you are filled with so much anger so much of the time. The two hardly go together. Well, they never do, not in any Faith I have ever understood or embraced. But I want so badly to have it again, because I want to believe, I NEED to believe, in two things, both of which are very far beyond my reach.
One, that Bennett will progress to being able to communicate, and I mean really communicate, that the healthy part of his brain will 'kick-in' like we believed it would when the bad parts were taken out and that he can live, at least minimally, a somewhat 'typical' life. Two, that there is a place that exists, beyond the boundaries of this world, beyond the edges of my understanding, that is real, so that John will be able to see it.
These may be just pipe dreams, impossibilities...but to believe in them anyway, no matter what, would be a genuine comfort. And you can't manufacture that, no matter how hard you try.