Tuesday, January 12, 2010

January 11th

Boy we had us some fun Monday. I wrote previously that I would spend the fourth anniversary of Malcolm's passing by celebrating three of his best virtues; his dauntless sense of adventure, playfulness though I really meant mischieviousness (I came awfully close to naming him Loki from the Norse god of naughtiness), and of course, gluttony. Here's how the day went.

The morning began with snowflake styled treats for my two little snowflakes, Hudson & Murphy, which were dispensed with in short order. Next on the agenda was celebrating Malcolm's adventurous heart. I had hoped for something spectacular like bungee jumping but elastic cords and extreme cold don't seem to get along very well.

We settled on a morning hike in the snow swept woods of Overton Park, one of the only remaining old growth forests in Tennessee. Hudson and Murphy were sporting their 'Born to Ride' leather jackets (thanks Pauline!) like a couple of real troublemakers. Man, Malcolm would've been proud.

They weren't gonna share the road with anyone especially this guy named Trey. Wait, he was rescued from a foreclosed house who's owner just left him there so he's okay. But nobody else - especially the law.

Yup, they pee'd on every tree, stone, stump, frozen patch of grass, bamboo stalk, and lone log they walked past and when their pistolas were empty, it was time to head for the hills.

As for me I had to find a way to celebrate Malcolm's interminable appetite. That opportunity presented itself in the Memphis Union Mission, a Christian based shelter for men, women, and children who are homeless, struggling with addiction, or in crisis. In addition to sharing faith and offering hope, they also provide food.

So at 11AM I showed up to attend their daily worship and following a moving sermon, helped serve the buffet alongside a team of devout volunteers. That's Kirk, the scruffy character (like I have any room to talk) front and center and behind him, Brother Greg, who plays the piano beautifully and has the most soulful voice reminiscent of Ray Charles. His music alone is reason enough to attend chapel there.

Now you might find this an odd way of celebrating gluttony but after Malcolm's cancer spread to his lungs he lost his appetite for dog food so I became his personal chef. Looking back, being in the kitchen was the only time of the day I wasn't under constant assault from fear and worry. By volunteering in the soup line I felt the singular simple pleasure of serving again and it will be a part of my yearly celebration now.

My last stop was Immaculate Conception Cathedral to light a vigil candle for Malcolm which I do twice a year. It's a Catholic tradition that has its origins in the burning lights at the tombs of the martyrs. The lights burned as a sign of solidarity with Christians still on earth. Because the lights continually burned as a silent vigil, they became known as vigil lights. I was raised Episcopalian but it's a beautiful tradition.

And a perfect way to wind down the celebration. The boys and I foraged, frolicked, mixed up a little trouble, and fed some hungry folks... a day worthy of Malcolm indeed.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dear Malcolm

It's been four years since we said our goodbyes, mate. You inspired a man of no particular importance, a man of no extraordinary means to embark on a mission that has taken him thousands of miles.

While we couldn't walk them together your spirit is with us always. Today I celebrate that spirit.

Your three greatest virtues were adventurousness, playfulness, & gluttony and that's how I'll spend my day. I'll let you know how it goes...

Love, Papi

*Note: Some of you may not find gluttony a virtue but believe you me, there was a particular kind of piousness in Malcolm's passion for eating