Today I feature a second guest post by a Brandywine Writers’ Circle member, TCDavis. Tom grew up in Wilmington, as this post will reveal. He’s a photogapher, as well as a writer. A photo of his heads the post, which is entitled, “Up on the Roof”.
I ran in the Y this morning, around the banked gray track above the main gym. That track was so terrifying when I was a boy! There was no protective railing at the bottom, so a kid tripping at a curve might slip beneath the first rail and plunge to the basketball court below. This was my constant fear, at any rate.
I’m no longer a child, and there is a finer spaced barrier all around the track now, so I run without fear. I run remembering how Dad loved this place. I run imagining him as a young man, striding this very path, round and round, strong and confident.
The rising sun is streaming through the thick block glass of the eastern wall, bathing the track in a tawny glow, and I feel my father’s spirit, strong and confident, and pleased that I’m following in his footsteps.
Dad was an athlete: Golden Gloves boxer and gymnast. He could walk on his hands in the loose beach sand, and glide like an airplane flying backwards over the winter ice of Twin Lakes. In his body he possessed the grace he lacked in personality. Who knows whether he would have been equally graceful in that way, had he felt as safe at home as he did at the Y.
Home was not safe for him. I learned this when he was recovering from a heart bypass operation, and I, emboldened by years of schooling and therapy, dared to ask: “Was there domestic violence when you were growing up?”
He lowered his gaze and nodded yes. That was all I got. I wanted to ask whether he had been hit, but decided to let that be. Dad had told me once that he overheard his mother and father arguing, and revealing in their rage that neither had wanted him to be born. What a blow that must have been! Violence to the very soul.
When Dad’s health was failing his blood chemistry went kerflooey. He was hallucinating. I was in his hospital room during one such episode.
I asked him, “Where are you, Dad?
“I’m on the roof of the YMCA,” he replied.
“What are you doing up there?”
“Enjoying the view! It’s so beaufiful!”
When he had regained ordinary consciousness I told him what he said he had seen.
“”Yes,” he explained. I would hang out at the Y as long as I could, in the pool, at the gym, up on the roof.”
“Why the roof, Dad?”
“There was a concession stand up there. I’d eat a sandwich and look out over the city. It was a grand view. Made me feel good.”
When Dad got so sick he couldn’t leave his bedroom I took pictures of the Y and mounted them in a large frame, with a clipping of the lyrics of the Drifters’song:
“When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space
On the roof, it’s peaceful as can be
And there the world below can’t bother me.
Let me tell you now . . . .
Right smack dab in the middle of town
I’ve found a paradise that’s trouble proof, up on the roof.
And if this world starts getting you down
There’s room enough for two
Up on the roof, up on the roof.
That reminder hung in his room until he died. It’s mine now.