Danny Boy

On a morning like this, when for some odd reason I am blessed with a neck so stiff it feels nearly broken, it would be easy, and maybe even wise, to set the work aside and move along to other things.

If I had some tobacco, I could light my uncle�s briar pipe. If I had a cigar, I could puff away my cares and stink up the entire house. I do have an ancient, unopened pack of Urartu cigarettes from Armenia that my brother brought home many years ago as a souvenir, but I doubt they would offer much satisfaction.

I could clean my glasses. They need it desperately. My work table should be dusted. Or I could sing. I know many songs, as I think we all do. Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling � oops: I accidentally typed �pies,� but it�s fixed now. From glen to glen, and down the mountainside. What a wonderful song. And to think I haven�t visited my father�s grave in five whole years � have not, in fact, even set foot in the San Joaquin Valley. But I�ll be here, in sunshine or in shadow. Damn.

So here I sit with my broken neck, working anyway. I don�t really care much for the cemetery where my father is buried, his parents nearby, one or two relatives a stone�s throw away. The markers are flat and can be driven over with a lawnmower. That just about sums it up. If I am buried, I won�t be buried there. If I�m burned, I will not yearn for an urn. I suppose if I had my choice, I would have my casket carried through the winding streets of an ancient city with thousands of people looking on. In fact, if I had my choice, I would be one of those carrying the casket, grinning from ear to ear.

�Lazy he�s not,� the people would say.

�I heard that just before he died, his neck was broken. It must have been terrible.�

�Poor soul. Still, he is smiling. Care for a drink?�

Near the end of my second novel, The Smiling Eyes of Children, the main character, Ross Freeman, sings �Danny Boy.� It is a fine moment. I remember writing it, and that was a fine moment too. Just like this one.

April 21, 2006

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