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Updated on August 12, 2013



Mom divorced in the early 70's - maybe 1970, but I think 1971 - back before she traded cigarettes, alcohol and the infrequent joint for Ms. Euphorius Rosebird's preferences: Angel Dust, pills, cocaine. Married early, and at an impressionable age, she celebrated that once-denied freedom which the return of her maiden name brought; a few odd apartments up in Boca, a few odd jobs down in Pompano, a few odd boyfriends everywhere.

She occasionally dated the yoga-doing, tofu-eating pot-head type, like Emilio. Emilio was an in-house tennis pro, half-Black, half-Nicaraguan, instructing at some West Palm Beach country club. He believed that people who wore eyeglasses, as did he, likewise needed to wear their spectacles while sleeping; so to better see their dreams. The last time mom heard from Emilio, years into the 80's, he was somewhere in northern California, chanting blissfully in a cult.

For a while, mom wanted to be Black; not necessarily a Black woman, just Black. Usually she came off as a bizarre hybrid somewhere between the sublime and the ridiculous: frighteningly dressed, politely received and a little too desperate for acceptance in her quest to understand the African American's struggle with "oppressive, white AmeriKKKa."

She bartended, she partied, in the predominantly Black nightclubs of Miami. She absorbed herself in just about all music that largely defined the thick, powerful rhythm & blues soul-funk sound of the day: Ohio Players, Parliament, Funkadelic, Bar-Kays, etc. She read and reread all of the books and all of the pamphlets left behind by the ‘Panthers of the late 1960's and early 70's. She dated Black men, some I still remember, but some I never met.

For a brief while there was Adolph with his two solid gold front teeth and face terribly burned by gasoline in an automobile accident. There was Willie Joe, the trumpeter who, when I was ten or eleven years old, turned me on to Miles Davis. There was Craig, a Viet Nam vet who drove trucks for a Tampa hauling company; so dark-skinned was he that in dim light he looked blue, not Black.

And also there was Gary.

Gary was a keyboardist. Musically, he'd done some work with The Drifters, Sly Stone and others adequate enough to be remembered with all of the hindsight of a ‘What-Ever-Happened-To?' retrospective. Musically, Gary did have talent; I'll give him that. However, he never really attained his full fifteen minutes of fame; indeed, it was probably just more like eleven, if that. How sad it must have been when one day Gary awoke, looked back on forty, and realized that the fame he'd so eagerly anticipated truly passed him right on by.

The fault wasn't all his; sometimes life's just unfair like that.

From start to finish, mid-Seventies to early-Nineties, although never legally married, mom and Gary were together over seventeen years. Mom's gradual slip into dementia began in 1990 or 1991 when Gary knocked-up another woman and forever split. Thus was the beginning of her end. As I saw it, after Gary left only then did the harsh reality become clear: when he gave up on her, mom began giving up too.

In my own upbringing, more than "unconditional love," it was her allegiance to the Chaos Theory that molded my childhood self-identity. Thus was born the egomaniacal bohemian, gypsy I'd ultimately have to confront, and kill, in my adulthood quest for maturity.

Mom's life choices had conditioned her to not only need chaos, but moreso to prefer it. Chaos was all she had known. Chaos was the only outlook with which she seemed to associate any comfort whatsoever. She'd become so co-dependent upon self-spinning that, in the end, without chaos she believed she was lost and powerless.

Although I suspected it throughout youth, it wasn't until my own notorious ego had been slain that I'd come to realize there's no greater feeling of loss than that of being powerless.




NEXT INSTALLMENT - Part 4: The Five 20th Century Eras That Define 21st Century America


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