The Two Men With The Three Names

A picture of Carlson Park taken from the corne...
Carlson Park: from the corner of Le Bourget Avenue and Braddock Drive. June 11, 2007. Culver City, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The names are Allen, David, and Jonah.  The way they are related is the gist of the story.  Two of the three names are my own.  The other was owned by my father-in-law, David.

David was 57 years old when he died.  From asbestosis.   You probably don’t know what that is.  Nowadays its called by another name.  Nowadays they call it mesothelioma.  Forty years ago, no one knew how to treated it.  Now no one knows how to treat it.  All that people know is how to make the end-game tolerable. David didn’t even have that.

A day or so before he died, at Brotman Memorial Hospital in Culver City, California, his doctor, [may his soul rot in Hell for eternity, for his insolence and lack of humanity] put him on display during Grand Rounds…   …   …my father-in-law, all tubed up, naso-gasrtically speechless, wheezing in his days-long-death:  the doctor opening his gut to display his weeping wound.  The record shows he died three days later.  But I KNOW he died at the moment he was displayed.  Death must have had a busy schedule that day and it just took Him a few days to keep the appointment.  I still feel the guilt of not just cocking the doctor’s clock right there!!

—–     —–     —–

—–     —–     —–

Long afterwards, I reflected on those pre-doomed days.  Dave was a determined man.  Loving.  Warm.  Enough sadness in his soul to give him “character”.  A little too much to contain.  Sadness seeped into his pores, played hide-and-seek with him, and continually lost…   …   …giving him a forlorn lost look even when he was happy.  Maybe too much disappointment.  I was too young to know the difference between his “bitter” and his “sweet”…   …   …too young to understand where his journey would lead.  Neither my wife nor I know the particulars of his early life.  That process was a mystery.  But his sadness was tangible.

His death changed my life.  I was Allen Martin.  I became Jonah Allen.

Why?  “It came to me in a dream”, as prophesies usually do.  My father-in-law was, to me, a “Job”-like character.  Long-suffering.  Good to a fault.  I was, and am, good also.  But Not Too Good!.  I’ll curse, and scream, and wiggle my way through…   …   ….  take a risk, find a pleasure too enticing to resist.  I may lose a fight…   …   …but you’ll know there’s “fight” in me and you’ll leave me alone next time.  Apparently that characteristic is in my genes.  When I was unconscious for three weeks after my brain surgery, I was told I was tied down because I thrashing myself free of my bounds.  My “rebelliousness” was alive even when my  “consciousness” wasn’t.

-continued tomorrow-


3 thoughts on “The Two Men With The Three Names

  1. A friend’s husband died of asbestosis in 2010 after ONE interaction with asbestos back in the ’80s. He and a crowd of faculty/students were watching as a very old trades training building was being torn down. As it collapsed a cloud of dust etc roared towards the onlookers. A short while later authorities admitted most of that “dust” was asbestos (used as insulation behind the drywall). It was a 30 year ticking time bomb… never knew when the alarm would strike. Like your father-in-law… it was only months from diagnosis to death. Horrible and tragic.

  2. Beautiful and heartbreaking. Without reading the rest of the story (or knowing a lick about you), I observe that your decision to change your name speaks in an interesting way off your relationship with your *own* father. I am moved every time I read this, and I keep wanting to read it.

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