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Thoughts and Hallucinations

Don's Funeral

Donald Agar Feeney
My cousin Don died in a freak bicycle accident in March. He was a year younger than me. We grew up together, first in Chicago and then in Livermore where both our families moved when we were in grammar school. His younger brother Pat had moved to the Albuquerque area a while back, so I had the chance to reconnect with him a year and a half ago when he visited. I went to Don's funeral in Manteca where he'd lived for years with his wife and now two grown sons. I told a funny story at the service about when he was best man at my wedding. I was overdressed in khakis and a sport coat. I could just as well have worn Levis like I used to and usually do now. After the service I had good conversations with friends of his, drinking beer, standing in the driveway of his son's house in the warm valley sunshine. Some of them were from Don's and my old grammar school, St. Michael's, and I could see the past in their faces. I felt more at home than I do most of the time at social events in my usual life. Don drove a truck and I wrote a book about trucking. I remember joking with him when I gave him a copy that since I didn't do any work I figured I might as well write about it. He liked that. Don went to Vietnam and I went into the Public Health Service and wrote a dissertation about heroin addicts. He said he had a pretty safe job but once went on patrol and when he saw puffs of dust at his feet he thought, "This is just like in the movies." The day at his funeral service reminded me of a Spanish word I'd heard a lot and learned in Honduras, "despistado," which can mean a lot of things, but is based on "pista," like "trail" or "track." Don's death knocked me out of my track--one of the things despistado means--and the day showed me the track I'm on. It wasn't bad or good. It just happened that way. Don left his track way too soon, but from everything his friends and neighbors said, he at least left while on a good one. Best any of us can do.
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