Comments on “The Dash” reminded me of Joe Tanaka.
Joe has been a good friend to me since I was very young. He’s buried across the way and facing the grave of my maternal grandfather, now grandmother too. The Catholic cemetery on Kissena Boulevard in Flushing, across from the golf course. I was born on August 16, 1948 myself, so Joe’s gravestone always had great resonance for me.
It’s horrible when that stuff happens, that two weeks to live stuff. In the Seventies I worked with a girl about my age, twenty seven or eight at the time, in Los Angeles. She’d had it tough: at home there’d been abuse, physical, emotional and sexual; she ran away at fourteen and within two years she was working in a bar and married to the abusive fifty plus year old bartender. She’d been clear of that marriage for a couple of years and had just married a really nice guy her age. She was a great kid, still cheerful, kind of cute. We were really happy for her, we all knew her story, she wasn’t shy about telling it. She got pregnant, and there were no problems, perfectly normal birth, “you have a son!”
The next day the doc’s came in and told her some bad news. The baby had a genetic problem with his skin, it was brittle. Every little movement drew blood. The kid would die almost immediately. He lasted about a week, one terribly painful, bloody week. Talk about being crushed, the young mom’s eyes were permanently widened after that, her voice a little hysterical, she’d gone a little crazy. We lost track of her.
I don’t know Joe’s story, but it was a short one. He’d have turned sixty next month, like me, if he’d lived.
There but for fortune, my babies, join me in a silent prayer for the lucky, the living. So, in heaven, is Joe still an infant or does one in his situation become the heavenly representation of the man he might have become?