‘Time is on my side’

John Pearse in April, 2007.

John Pearse in April, 2007.

It was the first spring we were in our new house mom and John came to visit. I had some time off from work and it was only May, but the weather forecast was like summer, with everything in bloom, in Seattle. For reasons I didn’t understand and didn’t press him on, John was doing this thing where he pretended he was disabled so as to get special treatment by the airlines, and mom gave me a head’s up so I wouldn’t act startled when they wheeled him out at the airport, I went along with it.

There’s times you hear a song and it feels just perfect, like it was made for you in that moment, or maybe like it’s the film adaptation of your life and that’s the soundtrack, except you don’t have to pay the licensing fees.

It was like that with the Rolling Stones song, “Time is On My Side”: the sun was out, I was off from work with mom and John visiting, and that first night we stayed up until after 3 AM (mom had to take a pill to get to sleep, she was so wound up).

It was the days I’d throw the empty wine bottles in the front yard when we finished one and do so in an exaggerated, Roman fashion (and never once broke anything).

We’d get John from the wheelchair to the car, back home and settled in; he’d put on an African robe and get out the guitar, we’d pop some wine and that was it.

I don’t remember much more about that visit except John only made it back one more time for our wedding, and then his health started to go downhill.

We flew over for Christmas when they bought their house in Germany, and that was the visit John and I got in a fight over me insisting they buy a house near us, so we could see them more: but he turned on me in a way he never had before and I dug in, and asked everyone to leave the house (it was Christmas eve), including Dawn’s parents who were also visiting, and it tore something in our relationship that night—then later, as we assembled for the candlelight service John fell down the medieval stone steps out front and knocked into my mom (he was a big man), and we speculated what could have happened, had it been Dawn (six months pregnant with Lily), and the next day I sat brooding on the third floor of their house, feeling trapped: I even said to mom, I wish she was with someone else, someone like Eberhard.

And then John died a couple years later, and one Christmas Eberhard was visiting my mom and kissed her as he always did when he left, but this time on the lips—and then 20 minutes later called, asking if he could come back. And I thought it was all too strange to be true, but I’ve come to learn that about life.

That first visit when they came, our neighbors would come over to party with us outside, to listen to John play and drink: and one night, Curry convinced John to let them record him in their basement studio; a few months later they gave me the CD but I still haven’t played it, all these years now.

John said he was embarrassed by it, probably had too much to drink he said, but even when he had, he was so much better than most people you ever heard play the guitar. We’d wake to him playing in the morning or whistling throughout the house in his calf-high socks and African robe, his long gray hair and beard, and it’s true when you hear those songs that seem so special, like they’re saying something to you they probably are, to recognize it then, when time’s on your side.

Categories: Memoir

Tags: , , , ,

24 replies

  1. Great blogs…. Enthralling words

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am also motivational blogger…
    Hope you will like ..


  3. That’s a great feeling when the song feels like part of your personal soundtrack. I had a lite moment like that yesterday on the drive in, listening to an apple curated “my favorites mix”. (Trying to spice up the music in my life.) That is a most impressive beard in the photo.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. yes, music brings it all back, including the people.


  5. I didn’t feel good about him from the get-go. He was scamming that he was handicapped. Who does that?!


  6. I love these pieces, rich with detail, but easy enough to pull back the camera and see a bigger landscape/theme. Nice work, Bill.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is quite vulnerable.
    Eberhard calling to ask if he could come back; I forgive him everything! That’s romance and chivalry right there.
    Not to go all Freud on you, but you’ve had some imposing father figures in your life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dude you know it. I’m happy and grateful for your reading, however formal that sounds. I read this on a snowy trail this morning just after sunrise, my fingers too cold to hold the phone. Thanks for reading and commenting. Bill

      Liked by 1 person

      • Even though I’ve essentially made that same father-figure before. Repeating myself repeating myself. But I think you’re really drilling down in it now.


      • I’m glad you said that Ross, thanks (about the drilling down): trying to avoid cute comparisons to your story, and holes. But on the father figure theme, it’s something I’m interested in not from my father figure experience as much as how I see that play out in the work space, in curious and odd ways. (I want to figure out how to nail that in my book. I guess it’s from personal experience, OK you were right.) Duh…


      • Yeah, I was seeing that connection too. [strokes beard knowingly]


  8. The pretending to be handicapped thing sounds like it was something of a dress rehearsal. John strikes me as one of those people who lives hard and loves hard and leaves a lot of evidence of his presence behind when he’s gone.

    I still associate a lot of moments in life with particular songs. I’m in Japantown, SF, in ’84 and Elvis Costello’s “Secondary Modern” is on a loop in my head, to this day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Pump it up” came on the radio last night and I had to wonder why I never got into Elvis like that; it may be generational for me. Maybe I’ll come around. I like your observation of John, it’s astute, though that’s you, dear reader….thanks and hope your week is good. Bill


  9. It’s a fascinating insight into a person, that pretending to be disabled, almost sounding like it’s been invented to make a character interesting, but being the truth. I’ve know of a few people who make their conditions out to be much worse than they actually are so they get more attention – which is sort of understandable when you have a needful personality. Not healthy but understandable. Sounds as if you were fond of him for all that and thankfully that’s the joy of being human – we don’t have to be 100 % good for people to love us

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so perceptive, you have no idea. I was curious to see how that would play out because John was one of my most beloved people (I took my surname from him and he was a real dad to me) though I knew that character reveal would come across despicable; though it’s interesting your take on it. Thanks for sharing. So much interesting I think to meddle in the grays and ambiguities, in character: the Rubick’s cube we can play with that. Thanks for reading Lynn! Bill

      Liked by 1 person

      • We’re all capable of things that may seem peculiar or even unpleasant from one angle, but it doesn’t make us unlovable. He was obviously a lovely man in many ways. Interesting, these explorations of fatherhood. It’s a theme that often runs through my own writing, having had an unreliable / absent dad, a present step dad and a wonderful father in law. They make a huge impact on us and how we view the world

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s good, partly with Ross’s suggestion I’m going down that theme some more. Thanks Lynn for sharing yours too….Bill

        Liked by 1 person

  10. “the soundtrack to your life…without licensing fees”; this is amazing. Thank you so much!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: