French Toast and Popeye

I sat down at the dining room table I made by hand from old lumber last year so I had something for my kids to eat on when they came over to my apartment. My girlfriend sat down across from me, she passed me a glass of milk to wash down my thick cut French toast sliced from a loaf of bread she made earlier that day. I am proud of my French toast recipe; my kids would swear there was something more than the eggs and milk and cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and molasses in it, some secret ingredient that I snuck into the bowl when they weren’t looking. I made it for them every Sunday morning before I moved out.

Today however my girlfriend and I are having French toast for dinner, we couldn’t decide on a late meal so I cut the bread about two inches thick, when it was done I spread real butter on it then laid a fresh over easy egg on top and poured real Maple syrup over the whole lot. Then I added some coconut flakes and pecan chips at the last minute. It was quiet in the apartment, the sun was falling behind the building across from ours and I crossed my hands in front of me and asked to say grace.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Amen I started. I said grace for our food and then thanked God for my family; for my kids, for my job, for my apartment and for my ex-wife. Then I closed again with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Amen. I hadn’t planned on saying anything beyond grace, but when the moment came I just kept going and out spilled the words incidentally. When I looked up and across the table, my girlfriend was staring at me. “Did you hear what you said” she asked with a slightly surprised look in her dark eyes. I paused for a moment and reflected in my head on the words that I uttered in prayer and told her that yes I heard it. I thanked God for my ex wife.

It’s a difficult thing to divorce. Especially when there are children involved, mine were ages nineteen, sixteen, fourteen and eleven, I don’t suppose it’s easy no matter how young or old you are even as the parent. I know I’ve spent more time crying and trying to dissuade myself from entering a loathsome downward spiral into anger and bitterness than thanking God for and recognizing the things that I have. I don’t consider myself very religious, spiritual sure, my mother had a thing against formalized religion, but I do pray, I recognize a much higher power than myself and whether or not it is true, whether or not it’s all fairy tale it makes me feel better and more at ease.

Anyway I was thinking about my life and the turns it has taken, and I have plenty I could feel bitter about, plenty I could allow to pull my shoulders down and cloud my mind with rank regret. But then I think about all of the things I love in my life, all of the elements that color my world and make me feel proud and loved and lucky to be alive so that I may enjoy every bit of it, I see all that makes me who I am, I see my girl friend sitting across from me at the table I built, I see pictures of my wonderful children  who love to come over and enjoy our company, I see my ex-wife in their faces and I know that no matter how things may have turned out, I might not be who I am today, and my children wouldn’t be who they are if not for my ex-wife’s presence in my life and for that I must say thanks when I sit down at my table, especially on Thanksgiving this year.

Like the great corn cob, pipe toting philosopher once said “I am who I am and that’s all that I am”. I am a  product of everything that’s happened and come and gone in my life, I haven’t let it spoil me and I haven’t allowed it to ruin me either, I drink when it rains and sing when it thunders. I am a theatrical performance laid out on stage in an old dusty hall, everyone in my life has played a part and without any one of them it wouldn’t be the crowd pleaser it is today. I may be speaking with a sarcastic tongue, but the landscape changes with all that rises and falls and that’s how the world works, that’s how lives are shaped and honed. I am grateful for today and the man I am today and that’s where my thought process is this holiday season.

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