, Some wonderful friends have been helping me to get some much needed repair work done to my home and clear out some of the mess. I actually now have overhead lights that work. Huzzah! What a difference it makes to have light in the darkness. I am so grateful for their kindness.
“I left some treasures on your chair,” my friend texted me after they were on the road again. Neal used to use the garage as his “man cave,” and I guess he left some of his things behind there. One of them was a notebook. It wasn’t a journal or diary, but just a regular 3 subject notebook that he had used when he was attending Mt. San Antonio College. I didn’t expect anything of particular value, but it was good to see his handwriting (and terrible spelling) again.
Inside one of the pockets was an English assignment called ‘Know Thyself Exercise.” It posed many introspective questions designed to help the students understand themselves better and Neal had filled it out, but not turned it in. Eureka! Gold! I can’t tell you how much it meant to me. I could hear his voice again in my heart and my head. It felt like he was here again, just out of reach. It was fascinating, exhilirating, funny and heart breaking all at the same time. My beautiful son. What a rare person he was, even if he couldn’t spell his way out of a barrel. He listed me as one of the most influential people in his life and that is worth the world to me. I wish I had known it sooner.
I want to share question # 7 with you. It’s very typical of Neal, and paints a very good portrait, even if poignant and a little sad.
7.) What are three of your likes/dislikes?
– I like the beach at sunset.
– I dislike people who act quickly, but think slowly.
– I like being alive. You never know what will happen tomorrow.
I’m glad that my son enjoyed being alive. Too many of us don’t take the time to do that, myself most of all. And, I’m glad that he didn’t know what the future would hold. It would have broken his heart. He died in pain and bewilderment, but it wasn’t a long drawn out death. I am grateful at least for that – and that he never had to endure the pain of losing his little boys. Iwouldn’t wish the pain of losing a child on anyone, least of all on Neal. He was a good father, a good son and a good brother. I know he tried hard to be a good husband as well. We talked about it frequently. He wanted Manling to be happy even more than he wanted to be happy himself. In that he was a very selfless person.
When asked what qualities he knew about himself he said “I’m very loyal to close friends and family.” That’s true. That’s who Neal was. He loved life, he loved his family and he loved Ling. I don’t understand why that wasn’t enough. But, I am happy to hear his voice again, if only in my own heart. Monkey.