Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.
Welcome to ADHD.
[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks! And know these accounts are true … without exaggeration!]
Across from me, Dan Roth swallows repeatedly, trapping tears threatening to trace his face.
Dan will not fight this battle much longer, surmises Screen Five. Your own tears may give your friend’s eyes the permission they need to release their liquid sadness.
Wordlessly we look at one another, unwilling to drop our gazes to the hospice bed supporting the strapping giant separating us.
Silence seems inappropriate, deafening, almost offensive in a time when words should fly about like so many talking parrots. These final moments are precious, all the more so for being granted exclusively to Dan and me. We two are very talkative gents, easily filling hours with conversation ranging from world-changing philosophies to sophomoric humor, yet we say nothing.
Tell Doc Fee you love him, counsels Three. Commend him on the many excellent sermons he gave across countless years. Speak of his many incredible adventures. Ask this man to tell one last life-ending, breath-suspending story.
By all rights, stories should be flowing, indeed. Doc Fee is no mere mortal, despite cancer wickedly proving otherwise as it painfully gnaws at his spine, his strength, his resolve.
How about the time he shoots that moose and underestimates its will to survive? primes Four in a curious parallel to the tragedy unfolding before me now. Things quickly go south and Doc – leaping on the back of that monstrous beast – twists his body in desperate time to the rhythm of deadly antlers slicing air like ‘copter blades.
Screen Six trumpets, Pastor Fee enjoys a brief but thrilling landlocked version of a “Nantucket sleigh ride,” straddling that thick back as its massive owner thunders through virgin forest during a muscular run for freedom. Woodland denizens are treated to moose bellows and human whoops that end only when Doc finally unsheathes his huge hunting knife and brings the matter to an Earth-crashing finale.
Doc or the moose? wonders Two.
In an earlier day, narrates Six, a time free of limiting afflictions, Doc is a renowned cowboy, a Canadian champ roping and riding his way to world fame. His lasso and lariat capture the horns of cows and hearts of congregations, form the basis of his exciting sermons, innumerable articles and delighted smiles.
Murmurs Two, He should be going out in a hat-jacked blaze, not some flat-backed haze. But the statement of courage he makes as he avoids speaking of his unrelenting agony and, instead, asks about your search for employment …
Two’s voice trails off.
All six foot, four inches of this good man slowly cease their motion, as if the confinements of a bed shall be allowed no more insult. Breath stills and body shudders in releasing so wonderful a spirit, rendering an already-quiet room impossibly quieter yet.
Two shaken young men lean forward and touch the shoulders, hands, face of a long-animated but never-imitated hero. Our eyes seek persevering sparks of life. We find none.
All six screens immediately unite, replaying Doc’s inspirational baptism of my miracle daughter, Leah, the very last infant ever granted such honor by Rev. Fee’s slipping health. My blondie seemed so vulnerably tiny, yet so immeasurably safe, in that weathered cradle formed by rough-hewn hands.
I pull back to the present as Dan whispers a respectful prayer, pausing here and there to discourage uninvited tears from splashing the solemn service. We double our “amen,” study Doc’s face a final time and turn to seek long-time bride Mrs. Fee, bearing the unbearable: news of widowhood unkindly entering her days.
Strong hand grips my arm. I jump, then jump again in seeing Dan’s two hands at his side. Whirling ’round, I face Doc.
Sitting up. Ramrod straight! gasps Five. Defying bone-breaking pain!
“Write!” roars Doc, jaw set and eyes afire. “God gave you an awesome gift. Use it, boy. Don’t you ever stop writing!”
“I w-w-won’t, sir,” I stutter in reply.
“Promise! Promise me, and don’t ever go back on it!”
“I do, Doc. I promise. I promise to write!”
Death, embarrassed at believing prized prey had been secured moments earlier, returns and pounces anew, lassoing its free-roaming victim much more tightly this time.
I stare, astonished. No candle flickers within our cowboy. “Is he gone this time, Dan? Really gone?” I venture in muted tones.
“Yes,” Dan answers, equally surprised and trying not to laugh. “This time, yes, I think he is.” We sigh at the great loss and the late shock, then Dan adds:
“But I tell you, Black, I think I’d keep that promise.”
Postscript: I do keep my promise. Each week. Writing to help you better understand my six-screen days, those lived by other “ADHD Powered” people, and still more by folks not similarly gifted/afflicted (depending on how you view the “disorder”).
“Adopted Grampa” Irwin Bottemiller is one of those non-gifted fellows. He, like Doc Fee, passes away right in front of me. Two full minutes after Irwin’s monitors confirm death, great-niece Judy blows into the room, a weeping whirlwind of womanhood. “Irwin!” she shouts into a vacant face, “Irwin! Don’t you dare leave without saying goodbye!” Amid tear-strangled cries, she shakes him by the pajama lapel and shouts more loudly, “Irwin, don’t you leave me!”
Irwin coughs and opens eyes. Miss Judy stops shaking her “returned” relative and says, “You scared me! I thought you were gone. I really wanted to say goodbye … to say that I love you!”
“Love you, too,” Irwin reassures, and the two talk casually, as if tea might soon be served. Then Irwin apparently remembers what he’d been doing. “Have to go,” he advises Judy. “OK,” she consents, kissing his forehead, and Irwin slips away a second time in five minutes.
No worries, Doc Fee, laughs Screen Three. Plenty to write about.
* * * * *
Blackie’s Weekly Wonders
Moose on the loose amps up the juice …
A sampling of superior Halloween pumpkins
We MUST run this holiday clip, of course
These gents are flippin’ crazy