I got some shit to say. And I'm lazy.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ashes To Ashes

Today is Ash Wednesday. While I am at best one lapsed fucking Catholic,I do tend to take the idea of giving up something for forty days and forty nights, just like JC, kind of seriously. I think it's a beautiful concept and one that I try, failingly, every year to see through to it's completion. I have tried to give up many things over the years, and in 2004 made the fool hearty attempt to give up both smoking and drinking. (!) What a schmuck.

This year is no different. I have given up something that has been very dear to me for the past three and a half months and has been a crutch on and off for the past ten years, really. No, not ESPN. I will let those seven of you who read this guess what that is, and I know it's not hard.

Anyhow, I made sure to get my ashes today, but I then had to dash for an audition for an agent. I completely forgot I had them on during our meeting and subsequent auditing, but at least she liked me enough that she wants to talk. Maybe she was feeling guilty about not getting them herself. Maybe she thinks ex-altarboys are sexy. Maybe I should continue my story.

The other thing about today is that it's March 1st, which was the day, 26 years ago,that my dear dear Paw-Paw succumbed to his long and drawn out struggle with lung and brain cancer. His passing has had a tremendous affect on my life, as I was there when it happened and couldn't fully grasp the enormity of the situation. I loved him dearly and think of him all the time.

I was his pride and joy, the first grandchild he had been wishing for for many years. Family lore has it that my mother, who working towards her Ph. D. in the late '70's, was pleaded to by Paw-Paw to get a 'M-O-M' degree before he passed. He got his wish and we had two and a half years together. One of my first memories is of him taking me to buy my first pair of cowboy boots. They were red. No offense, Paw-Paw, but I will not be buying another pair of red boots anytime soon.

Paw-Paw was a railroad engineer who had been raised with his two brothers during the depression in a half-way house in San Antonio. He met my grandmother in 1937 and a year later they were married. Strangely enough, his two other brothers married my grandmother, or Maw-Maw's, two other sisters. How's that for tv movie?

Paw-Paw was a dyed in the wool Democrat and Union man, loved his family with gusto,and could drink like his Irish birthright granted. He also smoked like his life depended on it, which I guess in a way it did.

Because he went so early in my life, and because I saw it happen, he has always had this mythical place in the story that is me. I never got to know him, and it's something I deeply regret. My grandmother tells me constantly how we have the exact same looks,build, gait and general demeanor. She gave me letters he sent her from the War and trinkets of their life together. They are some of the most prized possessions I own.

I hope to one day live as fiercely and rightly as he did. He raised a wonderful woman who is my mother and had the best wife in the world. I take the time to do this now because of the convergence of this two very different things that have more or less shaped who I am.

I'm trying JC. I'm really, really trying.

I salute you Paw-Paw. Thanks for being such a hardcore badass. I can only hope to walk in your shoes someday.

James Malcolm Graham


Blogger Adam said...

That's a great picture. love those boots.

ummm...you gave up alcohol? masturbation?

6:32 AM

Blogger kris marie said...

grandparents are the best - I think he was right - those boots rock, and not quite red, more a deep maroon.

2:21 PM


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