Is This Thing Working?



Autumn Blues

The cool autumn breeze used to evoke so many fine memories. Walking home through those backstreets of Niagara, hand-in-hand with my girlfriend, as the leaves fell from those giant trees on Second Avenue, chasing after some youthful dream. Football practices, the start of a new hockey season, a new football season and the beginning of all those crazy school days. Many years later I found myself in Scarborough at Centennial College where I met the love of my life and the beginning of the next chapter of my life. Hanging out 'neath the bright lights of Yonge and Bloor, dinners at Mr. Grumps, the Red Sox World Series run (ending with the Buckner Blunder), French Onion Soup at Mr. Green Jeans, chinese food at the Eaton Centre food court, hours at Cheapies and Sam The Record Man, the subway rides, the bus rides home. Hiding out in the back paths behind Stong College, long strolls through the campus, and skipping classes to work out at the gym. 

Fall seemed to give birth to so many new dreams back in those days. Then one day in September of '91 I got the news that my Grandpa had passed. I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember standing out on the balcony of the apartment where my brother Phil and I lived, thinking about how life was going to be without "Bumps". The regret I felt that night knowing that I could never tell him "I'm sorry" for an argument he had before he passed away. It still haunts me.

Still, even with one blemish, I loved the Fall...that is, until 2018. It sounds very melo-dramatic, but that year Dad was battling cancer and at the end of August we found out that he was terminal and there was nothing left for them to do. We watched as he stuggled through the pain at home, our last Thankgsgiving dinner that ended up being our last dinner together as a family and then admitting him to the hospital where he'd spend the rest of his days. I went three times a day to visit...the early morning Tim Horton's coffee, a lunch visit and then back to watch baseball and sitcoms by his bedside. The pain and hurt that I felt watching my hero fade and succumb to FUCKING CANCER comes rushing back as Summer comes to an end. Now, that cool autumn breeze takes me back to those final days and all of the emotion that weighed us all down. The stress, the chaos, the confusion, and most of all, the hurt inside. It was the hardest thing I've been through in my 50+ years...and Fall will always be connected to those feelings and that particular time in my life. In our lives.

In the Spring of 2019 we planted a Japanese Maple in the backyard in Dad's memory. It keeps me company. It watches over us. I often grab a Scotch and stand beneath it's leaves, under the streetlamp's light, and talk to Pops. It tends to end with tears and a longing for a time that I'll never get back. So, I started to write this poem in my head a few week's ago as I stood 'neath the tree and then one afternoon a week or so ago, I was overcome with a feeling that I couldn't shake and I just started typing and this was the result. I miss you Dad. I can't believe that it's been 2 years already.

The Branches Of Your Tree

A sombre autumn moon
Peaks through the branches of your tree
Here ‘neath the streetlamp’s light
Lost in the darkness of a memory

A warm wind whispers through the leaves
As another season comes to pass
There was a moment when time stood still
Now the days go by so fast

And some days are smiles
Some days still end with tears
Sometimes it feels like yesterday
And sometimes 100 years

I miss you every day Pops
But I miss you most this time of year
They say you are in a better place
But I can’t see that place from here

I used to love this time of year
The falling leaves, the cool autumn breeze
Now summer’s end brings with it
a deluge of painful memories

Of those final days we had together
The uneasiness that besieged our hearts
Trying to face the inevitability of it all
and not knowing where to start

But we weren’t left with a choice
We had to let go of your guiding hand
And try to find our way through
all of this, which I still don’t understand

And I miss you really hard sometimes
I miss you most this time of year
I know they say you are in a better place
But I can’t see that place from here

Tonight I dream of days gone by
Standing here ‘neath the shadow of your tree
Remembering a time I took for granted
A time that slipped away from me

And I pray to the same God
that you taught us all to put our faith in
And though I still pray, every day
I often wonder if he’s still listening

I really want to believe that there is more
Beyond the stars in this October sky
And that we’ll all meet up again
In a magical place
…somewhere on the other side

I miss you every day Pops
But I miss you most this time of year
They say you are in a better place
But I can’t see that place from here

Maybe you are in a better place
I guess, I just wish you were still here


Love Ningy