GrandpaSmOur souls come into the world, into this body, with vague recollections from whence we came. And for the span of our life on this planet, we seek to return. There's a wonderful Portugese word for this longing. Saudages. Like many special words, saudages can't be directly translated to a single English word. It means nostalgia for something which may or may not have been. This longing lies beneath the surface, sometimes hidden deeply within, sometimes rising, thinly veiled, pushing at the surface, urging to be revealed.


But the stuff of life distracts us. Our stories weave, intoxicating

our minds with wonder and surprise, and drawing us away from

our true path towards the ideal.


Our lives are stories of adventure and of setting down roots, of

discovery, and of failures, too. Like the abundant fishing hole

ten year old Kermit and his friend Dick discovered. It had been

their first invitation to join the men on their Sunday morning

(jaunt.) They were so excited! They listened to the bragging of

the men, eager to understand: walk softly towards the bank, be

mindful of where you place your feet lest you tumble in; how

to load the hook; how to cast and reel. With the lessons came

an admonition: "Stay close, no wandering off!" But boys being

boys, and bored with the lack of action, "just not biting t'day!"

they snuck away and found a hidden pool of abundance.

Greeted that evening with a stern dressing down, they quaked in

their boots with expectation of the punishment to come. But the

buckets of fish they carried into the house led to a sworn pact of

secrecy instead, deeper bonding with a father thru a shared

special fishing hole. Kermit learned that adventure and risk

could be balanced with good common sense, a lesson he later

imparted to his children.


From the time he was old enough to work, he did, each week

dutifully handing over his pay to mother Anna. The Keck

family lived just this side of poverty, every penny earned went

to living. Once, when sent to the basement ice box for meat for

dinner, Kermit dropped the precious cargo on the hard packed earthen floor.

He cried and cried, and his mother didn't speak to

him for days - that meat, now spoiled, would have fed the

family of six for a week. So, when Kermit and Doris first

dreamed of a life together, and Kermit told his mother "from

now on I will keep what I earn, it's time I save for my own

family," Anna was not pleased. Kermit learned how to make

the best with what was on hand; the good stewardship of

frugality; and planning, and saving for the future, and later

taught this to his own children.


Some of you may know that Kermit wanted to be a Minister.

But in such a family, only one son could be sent to college, so

after returning from the army, dad went to work at a donut shop,

and later, newly married, landed a job as a machinist with

Western Electric. He worked there his entire adult life,

increasing in skill, and rising in respect until he retired at age

59. A strong Union man, the gaps of inevitable strikes were

filed with odd labor jobs: mowing the lawn at the Cemetary,

and repairs and projects around the house. So dad lived a life of

personal integrity and a strong work ethic, and this, too, he

taught his children well.


Now most of you would agree that Kermit had his opinions.

Boy, did he. He loved a good 'discussion.' I wonder if he

studied Socrates? I wish I'd asked. He read and studied and thought

about everything, and wasn't shy about sharing what he learned.

So during my teen years, on the tail-end of the hippy

generation, we danced a dance of debate, fencing with words,

rising in anger and resolving in love. I learned to question, how

to research, how to look beneath the surface of that which

appears to be, and how to speak up for my beliefs.

Two decades later, during the first Bush Wars, I frightened my

mom to chalk-faced despair when I told her I had marched for

Peace in Washington. "Don't tell your father, you know how he

is!" I considered, and decided for trust, so when dad returned from the salad bar, I

said "Guess what I did this weekend......"

Doris stiffened, held her breath. Kermit put down his fork, drew

himself up taller in his seat, and said: "You know I don't agree

with your politics, but I am so proud of you for taking a stand

for what you believe." And so I learned that even so

opinionated and argumentative a man could learn and grow, and

have the capacity to accept and respect other-thinking.


Dad worked hard to support his family. And so did Mom. Our

parents were an example of Partnership in marriage, of the

value of choosing a squiggly nature for role definitions, and the

dependability of shared responsibility. It seemed to come

naturally to them, this balance between work outside and inside

the home, between husband and wife, although I suspect this

too evolved over time, and with much conscious intent. We

learned to be able to take care of ourselves, and the value of

interdependence, and in my own home, I can prepare a gourmet

feast in an evening after an afternoon of changing a light socket

or the faucet of the kitchen sink.


Dad's diagnosis of Parkinson's was no surprise. In his work he'd

endured exposure to chemicals so new their affects were

unknown, and at home, he regularly used Round-up, which is

now the subject of a class action lawsuit for causing PD. There

were other neurotoxin exposures, too. Mom remembers the

time he put a slate floor in the basement wreck room. He was

numb up to his elbows for days.


From the time of diagnosis, through all the stages of decline, his

fierce determination, independence, and pride drove him to do

what he could for himself. In the last year, PD left him no

choice but to become more demanding, more dependent, while

his true nature often led him to attempt the impossible, often

with disastrous results. It was so hard for him to not take care of

himself, and everyone else. And in the final six months, he

pined to be 'done.' Oh, he didn't want to die, it's just he didn't want to live as he was.

So his passing is truly a blessing,

his Self has escaped a body which failed him

and he is free, free, free.


Our souls come into the world, into this body, with vague

recollections from whence we came. And for the span of our

life on this planet, we seek to return. Saudages. nostalgia for

something which may or may not have been. A longing ever

beneath the surface, sometimes hidden deeply within,

sometimes, thinly veiled, pushing at the surface, urging to be

revealed. Kermit has shed the veils and now he is free, his

journey continues unburdened. And yet he is ever with us in the

rays of the sun, in the waves of the air, in the all pervading life

in space, and in our very hearts and minds.


Rumi said " This is love : To fly toward a secret, to cause a

hundred veils to fall each moment. First let go of life. Finally,

take a step without feet."


Pir Vilayat Kahn reminds us: "We are all on the journey, life

itself is a journey, no-one is settled here, we are all passing

through."


Bon voyage, Dad!