Another View of Forever

March 20, 2014

You might say this is the sequel to “The View Of Forever” – it is in “Notes to Stephanie: Days Remembered”. I guess it is a sequel, and has some of the same ideas but also uses a theme I use elsewhere in all of my books.

One day not so long ago, I went to Bonds Ranch Road to see the “View of Forever.” It was a very sunny, but cold day, with a little wind from the north. I got there about 2:30 in the afternoon. There were a few streams of high clouds coming out of the southwest—a perfect day to gaze into the distance since the air was so clear.

I sat there thinking about things; and once again, I noticed just how much you can see from up there. In the distance some ten miles away, I could see Loop 820 turn to the southwest towards White Settlement—the sun was reflecting off of the cars and trucks, which could be seen even that far away. The horizons were sometimes fifteen miles away; parts of three counties were within view with their rolling terrain sloping to infinity and beyond. With such vistas, you could imagine yourself as an omnipotent god looking down from afar at the mere mortals going about their journeys.

Somewhat closer to me, you could see the water tower at Lake Worth, which is not so far from your house, sticking up over one of the hills to the south. Downtown could also be seen in that general direction—the skyscrapers pointing to heaven above the streets where we had walked hand in hand more than once.

And closest of all was Lake Country Estates, which was your favorite place to go to when you were looking at real estate. From my vantage point, you could see some of the places we had driven by. You could see the back of the strip center where we once bought some beer and areas of houses, such as the ones along the road on the ridge overlooking the rolling terrain to the north, including Bonds Ranch Road. Just like the view of 820, you could see the sun reflecting off of the cars going north and south on Boat Club Road.

This day was like one that we had spent together there once, and I listened to the pretty, but melancholy, song that was the theme from the movie Gran Torino. On that sunny day nearly three years ago, we had sat on the top of the hill, looking at the View of Forever and saw those same things together: the glint of faraway cars and the shapes of houses all framed by the sky, the clouds, and the bright light of the sun on a cold day. We sat there marveling at the sight and talked about our lives, and what was going on at the time. Together, we were at a place that seemed so far from the things that were weighing on us at that the time—a place surrounded by beauty and the endless sky that arched above us. We had a brief moment of peace and contentment there on a pretty day now long ago.

And then I came back to the present as the song was still playing. I gazed back to Loop 820; the glints of reflected sunlight seemed to flicker to the rhythm of the ghostly piano rifts in the song. Then it was still; nothing was heard; the song had ended. Only the wind was heard; there were no cars going down the road; and for a moment, there were no flashes of light from the distant cars. Time had stopped it seemed, and all was well even though you were not there with me. But that fine moment also ended like all such times do.

That time and place tells us many things about life. Life can be swirling around us; some things are close to us, and some are not. Events come and go at random—their frequency and severity ebbing and flowing ever constantly.

And then briefly, it all stops. Life is frozen around us, and all is quiet for awhile. The calm is all too brief as the cycle once more begins, and the flickers of experience once more appear in the distance. All set within the frame of time’s large window, like what I saw from the “View of Forever” one quiet winter day.


Bonds Ranch Road: The View of Forever

March 19, 2014

Out on the far northwest side of Fort Worth is a hill with a view that overlooks Eagle Mountain Lake and parts of three counties. It seems the view goes on forever, hence the title of this note from “Notes To Stephanie: Days Remembered”. It is a very special place to me in many ways. I hope this note gives you some of what I see and feel when I am there.

Do you remember the day we drove around in the country and went on Bonds Ranch Road and parked on the top of the hill with the gorgeous view to the west? Remember the hill with the view that is both huge and beautiful, which seems to go on forever?

The expanse one sees was not infinite, however; but in earlier times, like the frontier era, it might as well have been infinite given the fact that people then seldom left their immediate area, never straying much from their farms, ranches, or towns. What one saw covered all of western Tarrant County and also parts of Parker and Wise as well. Looking southwest, one could also see the ridge of hills that overlooked parts of Hood and Johnson Counties beyond. The panorama was certainly grand in its sweep and the areas it covered.

This view of the countryside covered places we both had been to or had lived near at various times in our lives. In a way, the view there was a picture of our lives: the places were the results and mileposts of choices made in the past. From there, you could see where you were and perhaps see where you might go, depending on what you might choose within the bubble of your own individual universe of existence.

So, there we were one sunny Sunday in the truck or maybe it was the Camry with a six pack of Stella Artois, discussing the nature of the universe and our lives while looking across the rolling terrain towards Eagle Mountain Lake. That day was very nice with you; it really was. Bright sunshine, and the sunshine of what we had with each other, along with that pretty view made me feel alive and well with things overall.

It is still a nice and wonderful place even with the sea of houses starting to encroach upon its rolling prairies and grass-filled pastures from the east. I still go there sometimes to ponder things like the past, the present, and of course, the future and what it may hold. Except when a car drives by, the only thing heard is the sound of the wind blowing through the grass as it has for eons. And thus, the gentle noise of the breeze is the soundtrack to one’s reflection under the sky, overarching the world. You are not with me now, but life goes on while the world around us remains.

With or without houses on its grounds, Bonds Ranch Road will always be a special place to me. It will always have a View of Forever on top of its hill, regardless of what is around me there.

Surprises And Such

March 18, 2014

This short Note is from “Notes To Stephanie: Middle Aged Love Letters And Life Stories”. Part of it ties back to the themes in Forks In The Road but uses taking my former step-son to the emergency room one day when he was suddenly ill as the focal point.

Well, well, well. The election will be resolved and the end of the campaign draws neigh. Thank goodness, I have truly grown sick of it, especially the media and its near orgasmic tilt for Senator Obama. But this painful process illustrates that regardless of the ups and downs of our political culture life pretty much goes on as it always does. And so does our life in general. Like last Saturday’s surprise trip to the hospital with Jimmy. You never know what will happen. One minute things are good or in the usual routine and then the polarity of life’s electrical circuits switch in a sudden reversal creating worry and angst. Darkness where a minute ago there was light and clarity.

So like the sun rising and setting, changing light to dark and dark back into light our lives are ultimately set by these rhythms every day and year. But not on a regular schedule like the sun however. The uncertainty of when both good things and bad things take place provides one with a certain amount of variety, much of it unwanted, some of it necessary, and some of it a source of joy.

Jimmy’s trip to the hospital is certainly one example of an unwanted but also necessary event. And yet one which would not have happened quite the same way unless we had not met in the first place. Good begets bad in way you know. To be sure Jimmy’s getting sick that day most likely would have happened if we had never met and married but how it transpired would have been different had I not been in your life, and certainly I would have never known about it with you absent from my existence. But I was there and I was able to get Jimmy in the truck and get him to the hospital. So in the end something good came out of that bad situation: I was able to be there for him and you too.

So life’s uncertain events are certainly not a clockwork sunrise but more of an inconstant moon in the skies of our lives. Each day we awake and find out what will be served up to us, sometimes an un-tasty buffet, but also sometimes a welcome and joyous feast. Regardless, these things define the uncertain pattern of our lives.

Jeff to Stephanie November 4. 2008

The Ghost Of Love Past

March 17, 2014

This is the last note I wrote to Stephanie and it is from “Notes To Stephanie: Middle Aged Love Letters And Life Stories” as you might guess. Regardless of its temporal place in the sequence of the Notes it illustrates an ageless theme. The fact that little kids grow up into adults with their own, unique personalities, hopes, fears, dreams, and quirks.

In the past two days we have seen both of my two kids, they are yours too you know, feel upset about something important in their lives. In both cases I too have felt sad due to their personal sadness. And in both cases I have responded to them, of course in different ways since they are different people with unique personalities and situations. As I wrote the other day, as a parent I want to “make it all better”, but I cannot do that all of the time. It is very true that I remember them both as if they were little kids again. Innocent, full of love and full of life’s experiences which at a young age are mostly full of wonder and excitement. Of course they are both young adults now but the ghosts of their childhood haunt me it seems.

Much of this emotion comes from knowing they are grown now and also from not having them around. Per se I do not suffer from “empty nest syndrome” but in a way perhaps I do. One’s happy memories of for example taking them to the park and watching them play are always somewhere in my sub-conscious mind. These fond remembrances are present; such things fill your mind too. Knowing that these times will not replay themselves is something that one knows but at the same time perhaps wants to reject the obvious reality of.

The reason is simple. As a loving parent our kids are always there in our minds and hearts. Maybe they are not always in the forefront of our thoughts but they always color our feelings. Even when these long ago images are far below the waves of the sea of our conscious minds. Thus, when things happen to them that remind us that they are adults our minds, anchored in the past, want to revolt against this fact and thus we are saddened.

I can fully understand now why my mom is the way she is. She always was there for me and my sister. And let us not forget my dad as well. And she still is when times get rough even though we of course sometimes do not see eye to eye. Regardless of the occasional enmity, she still is a loving mom. She always will be. I hope our kids will see us the same way over the coming years especially when we are gone from this life. Certainly she still sees us as little as we once were. It is only natural to do so.

In your case, you really never had a true family but yet you have the same type of attachment and love for your two kids, they are mine as well, that caused you to care so very much. I think that the fact that you were an orphan made you love your kids even more, giving them what you did not have as a child. You are a very loving mother that is certain. And it shows in the angst you sometimes feel about “your two”. If you did not I would be worried about you (and if I did not you should be worried about me). Perhaps this shows that all of us, regardless of our backgrounds as kids, have the capacity to love our children as they grow up.

So one can see I think that it is a natural thing for one to love their kids, even when they are grown. As we can never forget who they were when they were little so can we also not forget that they are grown up now like us. Our love remains for them but how we express that love is different since they and us are at different points on life’s road. And that we must always remember and is something they too will learn one day when they are parents.

Jeff To Stephanie January 21, 2009