Me and Neil Diamond
“Where are you going,” she said with a bit of anger in her voice. “You're not going to work, are you!?”
“I'm going somewhere. Do you need help getting to the car?” Said while finishing getting dressed.
Fourteen hours in labor, wife, husband and Neil Diamond emerged from the labor room and shortly were introduced to their daughter. Soon Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show came and went. Dreams of Forever in Blue Jeans, faded.
Fast forward thirty-three years. Alone in his truck, ringing in his ears, “Where are you going. You're not going to work, are you!?” Driving through the night, toward his Mother's homestead, Neil Diamond came along for the drive. In the wee small hours, busy filling bags of memories lost, all the prophesy of Neil Diamond came back. Solitary Man, indeed. Alone with a space filled with treasures for one. A solitary life, away from family, by her own choice.
Filling bags of memories, and dragging them to the front. Green Environmental would be there with a dumpster on Wednesday. Photo albums, loose photos and photo collages, with random push pins on the walls. Jars of whole walnuts on the shelves of the pantry. A 1960's mod breakfast bench, pink patterned stared back from his youth. 'You Got to Me,' playing on the CD player.
Sweet Caroline, invaded his thoughts as he packaged up China with a familiar pattern. Seems both grandmas had the same patterned China. But it was 2 a.m. So his eyes could be fooling him.
The night was pitch black. No city lights distorting the night. It belonged to the animals of the night. Cats prowled their bountiful hunting ground. A jack-rabbit as big as a dog, strolled across the lawn at dawn, wondering just who put all this stuff on his property. He stopped and stared his, Mad Hatter stare. The trash container was dragged down the three steps held up with cinder blocks to the waiting dolly. Cracklin' Rose announced the start of the work day. The wasps were on patrol near the flowers by the porch.
The rusted Cadillac sat at the end of the drive. An ornament now. Song Sung Blue played, the shed near the Cadillac leaned noticeably, his passage to the mountain disturbed its occupants. “I am I cried,” rolling the dolly past. “I'm coming for you,” he called. At midnight the thought came, that with a chain we could pull that Caddie out of the way. In the shed the next morning, a chain was the first thing he saw.
Longfellow Serenade, played as he poured the stones and pebbles found along her trails into a bigger container. Every stone thrown at her she picked up and saved, he thought. Do we all do that, he wondered. Such were the plans we made, Longfellow Serenade. With callous abandon, these containers of pain and joy were tossed aside. Small carafes of feathers were also present, perhaps for every stone thrown, there was also a softness delivered. The bags of memories filled.
Through the night memories filled bags, a Beautiful Noise rose from the CD. From the penny arcade, if you know what I mean... Watch out for snakes and rats, he had been warned. But the memories, no one had said, watch out for the memories. They were everywhere. He worked until the night became a brand new day. Neil Diamond by my side again. A big life event.
Cupboard doors open now. Years of eating and drinking from these cupboards brought to an end. If there was laughter it had long ago stilled. Contents of pantry filled more than one fifty gallon bag. Filled, dragged down the front steps and over the brick path leading past the peach tree to the shade of the Walnut. More bags, filled with pieces of paper, that had his name on them, This is Your Emergency number. Call and his number. On the fridge, on the table and in folders.
With the paper out of the house, Forever in Blue jeans played. “Toss the cinder blocks that held up, somehow, the bookshelves – toss those blocks out the window. Then gather them with the wheel barrow. Blue jeans getting their workout, as cinder blocks flew. “Look there are walls. He reached walls. Eureka. Money talks, but it don't sing and dance and it don't walk.” Running on empty. Storage sheds yet to be seen. 'How bad could they be?'
He began putting things on the parkway. They came at night. “Hi, there are some trunks, on the parkway. Are they free?”
“Yes, hang on I will help you load them.”
“Hey, what is the story about the items on the parkway?”
“Take whatever you want.”
They came at night. They poked and turned. They inspected and asked questions. The only answer was take it. I'll help you load. I am I cried, I can't even say why. Maybe a dumpster full was carried away by the scavengers, blessing their good fortune. Free items in the parkway, and free labor to help them load.
“You waded ashore under heavy fire, just six days ago,” he told himself. “And look, the tides have turned. You have seen the enemy and it is us. The cavalry is due, the second wave, reinforcements. The rest of the unknowing recruits will arrive.”
“Now we are four,” he thought. Then a young man arrived. And we were five, but he worked like three so it seemed like more.
With the second wave came the administration, management if you will. We should do this, we should do that. Again, Longfellow's Serenade, ride, come on baby ride. I sang my song. Time to find a storage shed, 'How bad could they be?'
The crew in the second trailer sang shanty songs as they attacked the work, the rats fought gallantly for their home. His phone rang, 'Finding anything of value?' he was asked.
“Sure, if you are a member of the Swiss Family Robinson, this place is a regular Walmart. But otherwise not much.”
It was packed with the memories of her lifetime. A beautiful noise, begging for a tune. He told his oldest daughter. “She is us.” We just never realized it.
For the siblings this journey brought us close. 'Now we are four.' Do you hear it babe, do you hear it babe, it was another time another place. We gave it away for the sake of a dream.
This ends the story of Me and Neil Diamond.
Mary Annotte Sarni
August 22, 1928 - March 4, 2019
In God's Hands