Life is suffering, is a well-known concept. Alas, my friend Morton was in constant misery. He had a litany of illnesses and bad luck. Though he was constantly in pain he would smile, laugh, and crack jokes. He was at peace with his myriad afflictions and was truly graceful.
I grew up in a small town. We knew almost everyone or only had a degree or two of separation. My mom was acquainted with an older lady who had grandkids who would visit from the Cities. There were lots of kids in the family and they were called “hippies” because the boys had hair that was down to their collar and the girls wore fashionable clothes. During the 1970s that was a big deal. I got to know the younger kids, which included Morton. He was a few years older than me but friendly.
My family was at the local park for a church vacation bible school picnic. Morton and siblings were visiting his grandma. The curlicue was the funkiest slide. It was made of steel and well worn. Somehow, a small piece of the slide was pealed upwards on the interior of the slide, probably because it had been hit by a lawnmower.
I showed Morton how to take a handful of sand to sprinkle on the surface and sit on a little to reduce friction to slide faster. He loved it. However, one time he forgot to tilt to the right as he approached the bottom. He gashed is thigh on the bit of metal and began to bleed. He did cry or yell but began cursing because he liked the pants. Morton’s sister ran for his grandma and I got a tea towel from my mom to press on the wound. His grandma scooped him up and took him to the hospital for stitches. She washed the towel and returned it to my mom. She was a formidable woman and threatened to sue the city for hazardous playground equipment. The city fixed the slide and paid for Morton’s hospital bill and new pants.
Morton and I lost contact after his grandma died when I was in high school. About eight years ago I began attending a friend’s Game Night, which I have written about before in this blog. Morton was there with his hubby and we had to chat a couple times before recalling shared memories. It was odd and cool. Unfortunately, he had already suffered so much. Morton endured car accidents, being hit by a piece of a building, being in a coma, cancer, being paralyzed, and so much more. He had been married and had two kids.
Many Game Nights I would take him home because his partner wanted to stay and play. I was always worried that it would be the last time that I would see him. As I mentioned before, he was diagnosed with internal organ cancer. He was on a transplant list but was never well enough when one was available. Apparently he was stable until a few days before he died.
A couple weeks after Morton made the transition, his widower held a Celebration in a swanky hotel. It was a beautiful location and a good crowd attended. Morton had been cremated and wanted people to scatter his ashes far and wide. I procured two small boxes. I smudged, cried, and deposited his ashes with bone flakes in my flower garden, which he admired. I will take other to disperse in the small town park of our shared reminiscence on my next visit.
Several wedding receptions were also being held in the hotel. Towards the end of the evening a slightly drunk man wandered into our gathering. He made a beeline for me and propositioned me on the spot. I was rather shocked. I said no thank you but he persisted saying, “we can have some fun.” I responded, “This is a funeral memorial and I don’t like one-nighters.” He got the hint and departed. I was truly not in the mood. Sex with strangers can be dangerous and it is unfulfilling. I still have flea welts on my legs and the tail-end of my period, yuck. Morton would have laughed and laughed and told me to go for it. Perhaps I ought to have...
Fly high Mort!
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