Hazing is the word that best describes the past week since I was given my new Cowboy hat by a direct descendant of the James Gang line. If an outsider were to get a big Texas hat what better family from the wild old Texas would be more suitable? The day I got the hat I already knew storm clouds were brewing toward me. My son , I knew, was having a hard way after swallowing three dozen cough and cold tablets a week prior. Until then I had never heard that kids take these for fun but since then I have had an initiation in the tragic effects of fun "gone wild". From phone calls with him, friends and family it seemed he was being watched over well enough but I knew my son was like a man on a high wire in high winds. Where I was in Texas the rains kept me from running back to "save" him, my canvas patchwork world cannot be put up wet, he had people around him who cared for him but they, and I were ill equipped for the haze he had induced. He disappeared in the Tennessee hills among woods and farms, he could have been anywhere. By the time I arrived from Texas his trail was two days old and even their best blood hound lost his scent when he was grazed by a passing auto that carried his scent into a nearby town. It was ultimately up to him to come out of his hallucinational state and allow himself to be found. He finally did and is now being helped by professionals who say from preliminary analysis he is showing signs of bi-polar tendencies. I have been in self denial about this in my son though I know it runs deep on his mothers side of the family. I didn't come from "Leave it to Beaver" street myself, so here we are.
As I was driving from Wells Texas to Tennessee one of my closest friends died. Years ago he had been crushed by tons of earth in a construction accident, a death blow that took twenty years to finish him. While visiting his family I saw all the projects we had worked on over the years. I had a hand in his life more than I realized, a friendship deeper than I can put into words. While my son's ordeal played out I did my best to be a big cowboy and be strong. Who was I kidding, I was a wreck. A few days earlier I was on top of the bull in Texas and then I was tossed landing on my heart. The hazing, the initiation of my new hat kept coming to my mind. It is just a hat but that thought kept me strong, not clear eyed, and I held myself together with a little help from my friends.
The day before the gathering for my buddy Bob, the day before my son came out of his haze and decided to choose life over dehydration and starvation I stopped by his grandmothers home, his mother was there also. I came to drop off three things I had retrieved from Tennessee; My son's jacket, his cellular phone and his passport. That was not and easy visit. When I left from grandma's I drove a few minutes but had to pull off the busy road I'd traveled thousands of times to clear my mind. I turned onto a short road that paralleled the highway. I'd never noticed the name of this road," Dreams End". I pulled into an overgrown parking lot where a church had once stood. There was nothing but a foundation there, and there I gained my composure reeling in the symbolism of the moment when two women pulled up and asked if those horses loose by the highway were mine. The cowboy hat initiation had me again and soon I was getting a rope on one horse while two other used my belt to harness the other and a local fireman unlocked the gate of the pasture where the other horses were. This may not seem strange to a Texan, a Tennessean or even one from Kentucky but in all the years I have lived in the Louisville area and driven along that road I never saw horses loose by the road. It helped me get past my state of mind though the darn horse stole my rope.
I'm not giving up on my son, my friendship to my buddy Bob's family, the movement-movement I have taken on... or the hat.