Seen the arrow on the doorpost

“And I know no one can sing the blues, like Blind Willie McTell” – Bob Dylan, Blind Willie McTell

9 months is a short time. It’s not an under appreciation of child-birth, it’s just my thought for the day. Today my brother got on a plane, which tempted me to play John Denver’s Leaving on a Jetplane but I withheld. We’d been living in the same city (five minutes away from each other) for the last 9 months, but today he headed off to live somewhere else. It’s been the first time since I was in college that we’ve been living in the same city and it has been a lot of fun, but like I said, 9 months is a short time.

“I traveled through East Texas. Where many martyrs fell”

We have the same nose. Voice too. A lot of similar mannerisms. And we both love Bob Dylan. People say we’re very similar to each other, which is probably true, but at the same time I think we’re becoming more and more different over time. Which is great, don’t get me wrong. I’m a fucking fool and he’d be a saint if only he believed they existed.

“Smell that sweet magnolia blooming”

My brother’s a special guy. He’s a great brother, the best actually (as cliché as that might sound), but above that he’s a special guy. If I took out all the great things he’s done for me I’d argue I’ve never met anybody like him. If you ever bump into him, get to know him. He’s a special guy.

“He’s dressed up like a squire. Bootlegged whiskey in his hand”

Around 2005 he spent 6 months in China and came back with a suitcase full of burned CDs and DVDs. I looked though the CDs and he’d clearly been hitting Dylan hard. As you can see special and smart, sorry ladies, he’s not single. When I say listening to Bob Dylan hard, I mean he’d been listening to a bunch of live concerts, bootlegs and everything he could get his hands on. Blind Willie McTell had been the priced jewel from his efforts. He came back thrilled of having discovered this song that Dylan wrote about a blues man who lived during the first half of the nineteen hundreds. It’s a great song… really, it’s a shame he’s not single.

“But power and greed and corruptible seed, seem to be all that there is”

I’m taller. Actually we’re the same height, but I always look about a foot taller in pictures, so I’m taller. Funnier is still up for grabs. Taste in movies, me. Looks, up for grabs. Everything else… his. No doubt about it. So far I haven’t written much about one my grandfathers (I only mentioned him briefly in a previous post), but for the purpose of this post I’ll say that until he died he was the most honorable person in my life. A father of nine, a loving husband and an incredible grandfather, when he passed away we all had our wind knocked out of us. I cried like a baby, as did everybody else. It was hard to envision being without somebody who gathered so many good qualities.

“Them charcoal gypsy maidens, can strut their feathers well”

Now we’re a big family, and my grandfather influenced all of us in one way or another… but if you ask me who reflects his personality and good nature the most, it’s my brother. I used to think nobody had inherited my grandfather’s good nature, just a little of this and a little of that, but now I’m convinced it’s my brother who reminds me the most of my grandfather. Hardly ever a bad thought, if he has one hardly ever will it become a bad gesture, and if it does he’s always the first to realize it. I can’t say that of a lot of people. I’m grateful we shared the last 9 months because I think I’ve gotten to know him even better than I did before. I enjoyed my brother the brother as much as I always, with the added perk of discovering more about my brother the special guy, the one I was talking about before. I hope I get to live 5 minutes (or 10) away from him at some other point during my life. 9 months is a short time.

“And I know no one can sing the blues, like Blind Willie McTell”

You deserve the deepest of cover

“You belong with your love on your arm” Tom Petty, Wildflowers

Yesterday I received some very sad news, an email from my father explaining that my grandfather was really sick. He’d been in and out of the hospital the last couple of weeks and was apparently doing better lately, but since yesterday his condition is getting worse. The doctor didn’t say if it would be weeks or months, but that he is a 90 year old man and things were beginning to add up.

I’d love to be able to see him in a trip back home I have coming up, but I realize I can’t be that selfish. He has spent the last weeks in pain, feeling very tired and going to hospital 2 or 3 times a week, so most of all I want him to be comfortable and enjoy the time he has left. Hopefully I get lucky and I can have both, but if not I definitely want the latter.

“Go away somewhere all bright and new, I have seen no other, who compares with you”

I think in part because I started this blog recently, as soon as I began getting my head around the news I started remembering memories of my grandfather which cheered me up a bit. However, as much as I tried, I couldn’t think of any songs that we both shared in some way or another. All I could think of was the fact that he loved playing Christmas carols, the same ones every year, and I dreaded them… they were awful. So I didn’t want to torture any possible reader, or myself, with any of those. I love my grandfather, I do not love those songs.

Then I thought of a song by Tom Petty, Wildflowers from his second solo album with the same name, and thought that it would suit my grandfather very well. Anybody who has ever met my grandfather knows that among his passions in life are gardening and doing yard work. He has a house in in the outskirts of the city where I’m from and he goes there every Summer. Since I can remember he has put endless amount of time into getting the yard in decent shape, and just as much time trying to get plants to grow in a little orchard in one of the corners of the house.

Yet anybody who has actually ever spent time with my grandfather, at that house, knows very well that nothing edible has ever come out of that orchard and that no matter how much time he (or his loyal soldiers, meaning everyone in the family) put into the yard, it’s always going to be covered in wildflowers. I know I’ll always remember my grandfather saying… get yourself ready because we have some work to do in the yard.

Let’s go at it chief.

“You belong among the wildflowers… you belong somewhere close to me… far away from your trouble and worry… you belong somewhere you feel free.”