As each day of the journey of my life continues there is something which happens in my life that I now understand that my mother was referring to when she talked of this thing which she called in Italian, ‘destino.” I too use this expression when I talk to an Italian however when I am talking to Australians I refer to it as a ‘Spiritual connection.’
You often hear of people telling of how they were about to pick up the phone and call a friend and just as their hand touches the hand piece, the phone rings and it was the same friend that they were about to call. I have these things happen to me at such an advanced level that somehow they seem a little bit spooky. Perhaps they have always happened and I never noticed before because my mind was cluttered with the every day living and problems of the world in this new society of stress.
Having mentioned that word I do not believe in the word and it does not belong in the dictionary unless relating to steel and propellers of aeroplanes. What a mess we are in where so many people need a personal therapist and young people commit suicide because of the stress they are under. What? Do you know how not to contract stress? Get out there like my father did and get some blisters on your hands as furrows appear
on your face caused by the years of rivers of sweat; and kids, put that mouse down and throw away your DVD’s, throw away that mouse and get ride of that green coloured hair dye in the bathroom. Get a haircut and take those bloody studs out of
your nose and your ears and down there in some private place and I promise you that stress will be so frightened of you that it will go straight out the door and probably go to Afghanistan. Oh by the way, get rid of that bong and burn the mull.
I want to clarify that I am not ‘knocking’ the young and those of whom I have just written are a small minority forests out there are some beautiful kids with loving families who are proud of them and who will take their place in society and will continue to make this the best country in the universe.
Since I left home in Lismore where I was born I was engaged in heavy industrial construction on projects in every state of Australia and one in Bougainville. From Bougainville I brought home a memory of a young native and as we were driving down the mountainside to Kieta with a white wisp of smoke coming out of the volcano in the distance I asked him if he believed in heaven and hell. He replied“No I don’t believe in Hell for Hell is down here right now. These words I found later on by some philosopher…a Buddist monk I think who said“You do not have to die to be in eternity. You are living in it right now.”
Yes for that young man life in the remote highlands was an eternity with no future. Every day of a hungry child is an eternity. Every day of a man with cancer is an eternity,Every moment at a funeral of a person you love is an eternity.
Circa 1968 I was discharged from the Army having been conscripted for the Vietnam war and I returned to a law career and shortly thereafter I resigned as I could not settle down. Coupled with the trauma of two deaths of my best friends I wanted to get away from the city as it seemed that my life was filled with confusion and being disrupted. Proximity and exposure to death at that early age certainly has no place on the pages of youth. I was in search of the answers to which I had not asked the questions; I didn’t know what the questions were.
I took a job as a labourer with a construction company and I was accepted for a job on the Gove Peninsula on the Nabalco project for Bauxite mining.. Because Gove is on an Aboriginal reserve in Arnhem land a permit and a medical was required and
after a successful appointment with the doctor I was returning to work along Parramatta road near Five Dock and there was a young man hitch hiking so I stopped to give him a lift. They were the days before road rage and caution of strangers.
The young man was dressed in school sports clothes as he had attended a sports day marking the last day of school. They were also the days before ‘schoolies’ went on rampages.
There are people you like when you fist meet and this was one of them. Neil got into the car and something happened to me that has only happened a few other times in my life. There was an immediate connection of friendship which was
accompanied by smiles. They were the days when everyone smiled. The conversation that ensued was positively weird
“Hey man thanks for the lift.”‘Don’t thank me; give me money or a smile. Hey man that is Bill Cosby.”“I don’t give a lusty crap.”“General Hanson in Armageddon.”
What had transpired in that cross fire of words was the connection that we had both been listening to the same comedian Bill Cosby and both were half way through reading Leon Uris’s novel Armageddon the expression ‘lusty crap’had stuck in our minds. A racy conversation ensued as if we had to exchange our life stories on a short journey which only last approximately twenty minutes.We turned into Silverwater Road and when we arrived back at my work place we were still talking madly and I did not want the conversation to stop so I said“I will drive you to the end and let you off there” but when we reached the end the conversation was happy and uncomplicated and both of us still wanted it to last and so I announced I would drive him to Ryde where he lived with his parents.
Just prior to reaching his house we passed a hotel and he said“Come on Frank let me buy you a drink.”“Thank you but only one as I have to be back at work at two o’clock.
We talked and told stories and laughed. Here was a young man who was two years younger than myself and four times smarter with an uncanny sense of humour and an infectious laugh. I told him of a love affair I was having with a married
woman twice my aged so he insisted that we only refer to her as Mrs. X in order to keep her identity secret and her husband would not kill me.
Yes, we had that beer at one thirty in the afternoon and what seemed only a few minutes later the barman was calling out ‘finish your last drinks time gentlemen, time.’ Neil looked at his watch and laughed as he called back “at the third stroke it
will be nine fifty nine and twenty two seconds.” We walked out onto the footpath and said good bye and exchanged address and swore eternal friendship and then hugged each other. I didn’t believe I was hugging a stranger but he was not a stranger:
we were long time buddies.
After arrival I I posted a letter to him which I had written on the plane and he replied by return mail and a friendship by mail deepened. Neil wanted to be an actor and go to NIDA and my lady friend Mrs. X was associated with the arts so I sent him money to take her out to dinner. I never asked him for a report on the date and I guess I was secretly hoping that they did make out because I was to share everything I had with him, Is this not what friends do.
On my first R and R I went to Sydney and booked into the Sylvania hotel where I could spend a few days with Mrs. X and I could also catch up with Neil.Youth has no idea what goes on inside of an older unsettled woman who has a young lover and youth also has now idea how much pain it would inflict by instead of taking her out on New Years Eve like it promised, so it goes to another party with his mate Neil because there they will find there is a smorgasbord of young women..
We arrived back at the motel and there she was sitting on the bed crying and I made some attempt of pacifying the little lady until tiredness saw the three of us sleeping in the marital motel bed. I remember being the first one awake in the morning and I lay there thinking how lucky I was to have on one side of me a woman who could satisfy my sexual needs and a close friend who I could share the love of a friend and a sense of camaraderie. There was nothing the matter with this as we had
shared our crusts of bread, our wine, our laughter and now our women. That was the last time I saw Mrs. X but I can still remember he words that I was intangible and I looked it up in the dictionary for assurance that she wasn’t saying that I was a
I returned to Gove and the letters continued and he would make tapes and send them to me which was so refreshing because on the one tape would be everything from classical music, Satchmo and selections of songs from a group called the Sixty Niners who he saw at the Ulladulla hotel
Oh Miss Jill, oh Miss Jill, thought she would get onto the pill.
She went to the doctor with a terrible shout
and said “Doctor this pill, it keeps falling out.”
Oh Miss Lorraine, Oh Miss Lorraine, likes a bit now and again
Miss Lorraine, Miss Lorraine, likes a bit now and again
and again and again and again and again.
And there was the one he liked the most
I like the Christian life.
He was missing when we found him
He was dead as the grass around him
Now he’s lost his no claim bonus.
When then project was completed I returned to Sydney and by now my insane attraction to older women continued or perhaps it was the older woman’s attraction to me. Why not? In those days when I had hair and all my teeth I was a bit of a spunk.I had moved into the town house of the pay mistress from my work who was five years older than double my age; I was only a kid of twenty two.
The events of my return to Sydney are recounted in my novel Nonnos Violin in Chapter 23 and are ensuing.Extract – Nonno’s Violin
They both sat quietly without speaking. After a few moments, it was Pippo who was first to speak.
“Zio, I really don’t think you are a George for making salami. You are always telling funny stories about the others. How about telling me a funny story about yourself or are you just a boring pig that fluffs all the time? Sorry, I didn’t mean that about the pig that is.”
“O.K. if stories are what you want then stories you shall have, so listen. After I left school in 1963 I was accepted to a position with the Department of Attorney General and Justice. My first job was at the Redfern Court of Petty Sessions where I worked and studied the court procedures and the Justice and Crimes Acts. I also studied law as a barrister and eventually become a magistrate. I was studying a lot and doing very well. The second year I was working at the courts, a new student called Greg Junge started working there and we became very good friends. He even came up here with me to Lismore one Christmas. He was the drummer in uncle John’s band, the Freeways, in fact, that’s how John met me and how zio John met and married zia Peppina. At the back of their place they had a room that had been built as a band practise room but was no longer was being used. Greg invited me to board there and I accepted. We bought a car together, after all it made sense as we worked at the same place.
“I went over by train one Saturday afternoon with my belongings as I was going to move in the next day. That night we were going down to see the floorshow at the Sylvania pub. We had picked up the car earlier on Saturday and that night we did go out but we never got home. We had a car smash on the Kurnell road. When I woke in hospital all I could remember was his screams coming from casualty yelling, ‘Frank! Frank!’ When his father told me he was no longer with us I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry, but nothing came out. My stomach was twisted in knots and I was retching.
Eventually I recovered and after going back to work, I was conscripted into the Army because of the war in Vietnam. On the first R & R from Corps training at Bandiana, I was a passenger in another smash and finished my military service on light duties on crutches. I returned to work in the courthouse and had a pig of a boss at the Small Debts court. I could not settle down. Calvin my second best friend hit a tree one night and he was killed too. I hated that city and wanted to get out. I got a job with a construction company as a labourer and was accepted to go to Gove in Arnhem Land.”
Pippo cut in,
“I thought I asked for a funny story?”
“Listen you little pappaiardo, every story can’t be funny all the time because in life there are serious things so have some patience and wait. When we got to Arnhem Land, we had to complete our entry permits because Arnhem Land is an Aboriginal reserve. We were at the counter and some of the Italian boilermakers and fitters were having trouble filling out their forms. I put their forms in the typewriter and filled them out from them, translating their answers onto the form. The project manager was German and could see I was somehow a cut above the average labourer. He asked me if I could do the payroll and offered me that job. I told him I had come to work in the sun but I would do the payroll job after work. We came to a very suitable arrangement where I would work in the office doing payroll and other office administrative work for three days of the week and for the other three I would be out labouring. I loved working in that hot dry weather. Of a lunchtime I would run a hundred metres over a little hill, fall fully clothed into the Arafura Sea and splash around like a little kid. It was so hot that I would be dry again by the time I got back to work .
At the end of the project it was my responsibility to hand in all the office records to the head office in Sydney. I arrived there with three big boxes on a Friday afternoon and was met by the pay mistress —a good-looking voluptuous woman whom I guessed to be about forty-five. I was later to find out that I had guessed wrong by two years in her favour. She said to me, ‘Oh thank you for sending me such neat and orderly paperwork; you have made my life so much easier. It was a mess before. To show you my appreciation I would like to take you out to dinner, will tonight be O.K?’ I spoke slowly when I accepted so I would not stammer and as I walked away I felt elated that here I was a mere kid of twenty-two being taken out to dinner by a company representative — this big breasted woman of forty seven.
That evening a pre-arranged paid cab picked me up and delivered me to her townhouse in Surry Hills. She answered the door and I handed her a red rose. She returned the gesture with a kiss on my cheek, and then she said, ‘I have been thinking all day that going out to a restaurant is so impersonal so I have prepared us a dinner here where we will be more comfortable — I hope you don’t mind. Come in. Relax, kick your shoes off and take off that stupid tie. This is not a formal occasion. I will make us a drink.’ As she headed to the bar in the corner I surveyed the surroundings. On the dining table there was a white lace tablecloth and on the table was sparkling cutlery. A bottle of 1942 Rene Barbier was open and breathing on centre the table and a bottle of Ricca Donna spumante sat in an ice bucket surrounded by ice. The only light in the room was a red glow from within the bar and from a single candle on the table. Soft strains of music — guitars playing my favourite song Quando cariente il sol — ‘Love me with all your heart’ in Spanish were coming from I don’t know where. How did she know my favourite song? She handed me the glass, ‘here, scotch and soda’. A thought occurred to me, ‘more like scotch and sofa’ I thought, ‘definitely not gin and platonic’. I stopped myself from saying this out loud.
“ ‘Sit down please while I get dinner. I have made spaghetti marinara.’ We sat, we talked, we ate, we laughed, and when I reached for a piece of hot crusty Italian bread, she took my hand in hers and said,
“what lovely hands you have; so strong and yet so soft.’ ‘What crapp’ I thought. After the pasta and more conversation she brought out some cannoli followed by strong black percolated Italian coffee in little polished silver cups that burnt your bloody lips when you took a sip. She had gone to a lot of trouble to make everything so Italian. Excepting for the scotch there wasn’t a single thing that was not Italian. The meal was Italian, the wine was Italian, the spumante was Italian, the cassata was Italian and so was the coffee and liquore. I was Italian. I stared her in the eyes and said, ‘tell me something, have you got any Italian in you?’ ‘No I have not.’ I smiled a faint smile, ‘do you want some?’
She did not answer me but instead took me by the hand and led me upstairs to the bedroom where she quickly undressed me and slowly seduced me. She caressed me in the most secret of places and sent me into a world of fantasy. I was the star of the rodeo dressed in white with gold braid and could not been thrown from my frisky mare. It was like a volcanic eruption of Mount Etna that spewed out lava from the crater and it rolled down the mountainside causing devastation to everything in its pathway until it finally came to rest and just lay there exhausted in its own warmth.” Pippo spoke loudly,
“you call that a funny story? Hell it would have been funny if you did get bucked off and broke a leg and how did the volcano get into the rodeo. I think you should have taken a job as a Real Estate Agent as you have a bit of room for rent up top.”
“Pippy, perhaps you are a bit young to appreciate that story so I will tell it to you again in about ten years. Then you will appreciate it and I promise it will be exactly the same as what I just told you for you see when you tell the truth you do not have to remember for the story is always the same. Seriously, I told that to you for a reason and that is a matter of sex. Do you know anything about girl and boy making love or about the budgerigars and the bees?”
“No really, I am too little.”
“You are like I was Pippy for nonno and nonna were like most parents are. They never touched on the subject of sex with their kids so the kids picked it up from God knows where. The only time nonna ever even came near the subject was once when I was about eighteen and Calvin and I came up to Lismore and were going to the motor racing at Lakeside. Before we left nonna called me aside and said, ‘Figlio, sometime young men go out and get a girl and force her do something they do not want to. Don’t you ever do that.’ Pippy that is the one and only time that she ever came near the subject. That was the whole of my sex instruction; four words that said ‘don’t ever rape anyone.’
“Now I know your mother and father will be the same and never talk about it so I want to tell you a couple of things that you will eventually find out for yourself one day. You can be sure you and me will talk about it more deeply one day too. Forget the birds and the bees but a boy and a girl will find each other attractive and will end up making love. This is so hard to explain but it is the most beautiful thing that you can ever experience and there is nothing that I can think of you can compare it to. When I was little like you I heard zio Peppino talking to his friends just after he had his first experience and he said it was like butterflies flying out of his bum. How gross I thought as I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about but I did notice there were not too many butterflies around the house,” he laughed.
“Yes, zio, definitely Real Estate. Not only have you got a flat vacant upstairs but you have some room for rent too.”
“The edge Pippy. You are very close to the edge and it is
not going to take much for me to push you over. Anyway, I do
not have interesting stories
Fine – Nonno’s Violin
I AM ON A FANTASTIC JOURNEY.
In 1969 I was working for Eglo Engineering as a labourer and accepted to go to their project in Gove in the Northern Territory and before flying all who were going had to
pass a medical and obtain an entry permit as it was on an Aboriginal reserve. I had
gone for my medical and was returning to work along Parramatta Road at Five Dock
when I saw a young man hitch hiking and I stopped to give him a lift. He was dressed
in school sports clothes and was attending a sports day marking his last day at school.
I stopped and as he got into the car I saw his face which was a smiling face that you
liked as soon as you saw it. A strange thing happened as he got into the car and it was
a connection experienced by me on only one other occasion in my life, He said ‘hey man thanks’ I said ‘Hey man don’t thank me give me some money.’ ’That’s Bill Cosby’
to which I replied ‘I don’t give a lusty crap.’ He smiled ’that’s General Hanson in Armegeddon.’ It was such a spontaneous and racy conversation and we had been
reading the same book and listening to the same comedian Bill Cosby, and hence
the quotes were recognised by both of us.
I turned into Silverwater road and when I reached my workplace we were engaged in
further conversation which I did not want to stop so I said I would drive him to the end of Silverwater Road but when we reached the end the same thing happened so I said ‘I will drive you home to Ryde.’ Just before arriving at his place we passed the Grand Hotel at Ryde and he said ‘come on, let me buy you a beer in gratitude.’
‘Just one I said as I have to get back to work by two o’clock. That night at ten o’clock
we weren’t shot but we were fired at the the bar attendant was calling out ‘time please’
and Neil looked at his watch and said ‘I don’t know, my watch is not working.’
We said goodbye on the footpath outside the hotel both swearing eternal friendship
as we hugged each other which was an unusual thing to do to someone who you had only just met and we swapped addresses and promised to correspond. I wrote to him
from Gove and he responded and a friendship began from there. On my first trip back from Gove I had moved in with the company paymistress and I introduced him to the computer operator – a German girl who obviously spoke the same language as he did, but onlyin bed, and many happy times were spent in that town house of debauchery at Surry Hills.
Life raced along with restaurants, sing-along hotels with the piano man and the bouncing ball, skiing down at Perisher, sitting by an open fire and going to the zoo where Neil was convinced that he could speak in monkey.
By now he was a cadet journalist and on the trip back fromthe snow we visited a stone cottage which had been turned into a museum and it felt so comfortable he asked the lady caretaker if we could ring in a bottle of champagne we had in the car and share it with her. She agreed of course as he had this ability to make people melt.
He would travel with a pen and note book and the smallest possible bit of information was a whole story and in the glass case was a beautiful old lace wedding dress which was dated 1906. He inquired about it with note book in hand
“That was the wedding dress of the lady that owned this cottage. She was one hundred and six when she died and she was so very healthy and active.”
“Well if she was so fit and healthy, how did she die.”
“Oh she was sitting on her rocking chair on the verandah and a big gust of wind picked up the chair and tipped her over the balcony.”
It is so hard to keep a solemn face with expressions of sympathy whey your journalist friend is doubling over and cackling this infectious laughter like a bloody chook.
Life continues and is accompanied by laughter and good times and I would continue on with the projects in Gove, Bougainville Newcastle, and then up to Mackay on the Hay Point Coal loading expansion. It was there I was paid a visit by
two young men who had met Neil on a beach and he sent me more music – an LP titled Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake with one song circled and underlined.
Life is just a bowl of all bran
You wake up every morning and it’s there.
From way across the ocean my friend is sending me smiles. Nice memories eh?
Shortly after that visit I received a card from him with the words on the back“Frank I am in Asia on a fantastic journey heading to Singapore through Los. Please write to me at Poste Retente Singapore. Please, please write. Please? Love your
brother and friend….please.”
There was something eerie about that card. Why the word ‘please” so many times? .I did not give it a lot of thought as your mind is cluttered with the everyday environment of the work place but I did think that it was a little strange; as if he was pleading for me to be near him.
I did remember thinking ‘Please be careful Neil. It is the seventies and don’t you
know there is a bloody war going on over there and you could lose your no claim bonus?’
I only have a couple of regrets in life and if I was to nominate one it is that I no longer have that card although I do have the tape. I do not know for certain but that was the last card he ever sent and certainly that last one that I ever received for shortly after that Neil Sharman disappeared off the face of this earth.
Neil Sharman had disappeared in Vientiane but his name didn’t for the name Neil Sharman was headlined in newspapers throughout the major cities of Australia. Stories started emerging how three journalists were on a barge on the Mekong river, One young man escaped and found his way to the American Embassy and hazy stories of soldiers and Neil throwing his camera in the water and being suspected as a spy and shots were fired. One young man escaped and found his way to the Embassy. Neil’s mother and father appeared on the front page of one newspaper below the bold caption;
“Our son is not dead.”
I do in face have a real regret and that was that I wanted to go visit them in Ryde but what would I say “I am so sorry if your son is perhaps dead.” How could I sit there in the company of sad brave faces with a heart filled with tears. Would I be some sort consolation of a bitter reminder of a son. If he was dead then nothing would have stopped me for I would find the words but no, life is not a series of conjunctives which are possible maybes but now I had found one. What would be talk about? The times that he made them laugh like the time he bought them a surfboard and board wax for Christmas and the only time they ever went to the beach was to drive him there with the surfboard of course.
Over the years, items kept appearing and when I was in South Gippsland building oil rigs the story appeared as headlines in the Melbourne paper ’Laotian government cancels trade mission to Australia to avoid questioning over the disappearance of Neil Sharman.” I was too busy to cry but that night I tossed around in my bed and made a decision that in the morning I would go to work and resign and go over there and find my friend and then I did cry as the words of the song he sent me spun around in my head; ‘Life is just a bowl of all bran.’ It is amazing how the mind thinks in those quiet dark hours before falling asleep and next morning you wake up and reality has returned and you have a shower and to work. Too busy to cry.
Circa twelve years ago I was living and working free of charge for some ungrateful people who I thought were friends on a stud farm at Scone when Neil appeared again. President Yeltzin had gone to the United States and had made a statement that there were still American prisoners of war in Russian camps and he would make every endeavour to find them and send them home, He also mentioned that there were Australians still held captive as well.
The media took off with this story like a snapper who hasfound juicy bait on a hook and the stories exploded that Neil Sharman was still alive. His brother was interviewed on television and of course was sceptical. The hype disappeared as
quickly as it had appeared and I could only speculate that some journalist had turnedYeltzin’s statement that ‘there may be Australians still alive’ and construed this to say that ‘Neil Sharman is alive and in a Russian Camp.’ Do journalists ever consider a grieving mother or brother?
Again that night between those ruffled sheets there was a Ferris wheel going around inside my head and the cages filled with questions were banging on the inside of my skull. “Could he still speak English.?’ ‘Would he remember me and that lady that fell off the porch?” I don’t care if he remembers me or not, I am going to spend the rest of my life looking after him.
The next morning, the sun arises and the Ferris wheel is no longer spinning; well it is still spinning but the cages are not banging.
Four years ago at my home in Lismore I awoke as I normally do between two and three a.m. of a morning and I got up and write. It was just after two in the morning on a Saturday and I awoke in the middle of a dream. In the dream there was a friendly face and it was coming towards me in the fog but the fog was so think I could not make out who it was but somehow it was a friendly face. The room was silent but somehowI could feel a presence of someone else in the room. It wasn’t the presence of an intruder but of something that felt good, I started thinking of Neil; it was as if he was there and somehow I felt so close like the morning I woke up between him and Mrs.X
I got up and made a cup of tea and sat down and wrote our story. It was a replica of all that I have just written and I called that story
I am on a fantastic journey. Love your brother and friend.
I am close to my sister Joyce who lives at Wollongbar and she loved Neil. In Sydney Neil took her and my brother in law John to the Arts and Culture Journalist’s ball and during the night he told her not to be facetious and she told him not to use big words to impress her as she was not cultured like him. She didn’t know that word so he wrote it on her arm – faceitious. Another time of his graduation ball he was invited to a party we were having at her house at Engadine and he turned up at two in the morning in Tuxedo and top hat with another young man. Remember what I said about his ability to be able to make butter melt. Well his companion was a driver he had met
when he was hitch hiking from the city so he talked him into taking him right to the door and invited him also.
I ring Joyce quite a lot and I had been ringing for three days and there was no reply. I had not know that they were spending the weekend with John’s cousins Rosemary and Atillo at their unit on the Gold Coast. Finally I got her on the Monday from the public phone outside the Goonellabah Shopping centre and the first thing she said was
“Did you hear the news?”“No what news?”“They found Neil’s body. You must have seen it. It was big news on T.V and his brother was on television in Hawaii where he had gone to bring Neil home. There were some Americans too…some Governor or somewhere because in the same grave they found an American as well.”
“Didn’t you see it?”“No when was it?”“Saturday night”
My God, early Sunday was the morning I felt his presence and got up and wrote the story. At that moment I was glad that my sister could not see me over the phone because I was crying but then again I didn’t really care who saw me.
Yes, love your brother and friend; a friend who could make me laugh and also made me cry just like I am doing right at this very moment.
Full details were posted on the Internet and they revealed that the other body in the grave with Neil was that of Charlie Dean, the brother of the Governor of North Carolina, Sir Walter Dean. Other information came forward that a group of anthropologists found a sock and wanting to find out more they dug and found the bodies. When Neil’s mother heard the news, it was reported that she said
“Oh no.” That’s all she said.
As I do with most things that have meaning in my life I put them into my poetry as a personal memorial and this one is for Neil, God rest his soul and the soul of his mother Mrs. Sharman God bless you Joyce Sharman.THEY FOUND A SOCK“Oh no!” That is all she said.They found a sock!
After all this time they found a sock.
Anthropologists – they weren’t looking for a sock
but they found one. A very old sock.
Anthropologists looking for pieces of history
that would ensure their fame.
Bones of the Pharaohs, Tauten Karma’s beads, Mummies,
Ancient Kings, remains of the Catacombs.
But no! They found a sock.
It was an old sock worn thirty five years ago.
In the history of time that was like yesterday.
In the sad reality of a mother’s heart,thirty years is a lifetime of tears.
That sock is all that remains of a lost son who was wearing it
on a fantastic journey and then he disappeared.
In a mother’s heart there was thirty years of hope.
Thirty years of prayers but silence was her only reply.
She did not want to think that he did
die but hope does not foster sad reality
and so the tears continue through the years until now,
for the anthropologists found a sock.
A single lone sock yet a sock full of memories.
The day he was born. His first tear and his first smile.
His first day at school and his first day at work
and the last day he boarded that plane on a fantastic journey.
“Be careful son, there is a war going on,
But a laughing young man is invincible and
a laughing man so easily avoids danger.
But the sock tells the story that he did not.
How can it be that a sock can withstand the ravages of time?
Battered by the winds kissed by the rainThe sun shines and it is dry again.
Yes, it was a very strong sock.
Go up into space above the universeNow draw that sock to scale
Place the sock which is he size of a very small spot
precisely where it was found, now look down.
That sock is such a small dot.
A thousandth of a small speck
but the speck is the key to an unsolved mystery.
and all a mother said was “they found a sock.”
How many of us can feel the impact of those five words?
Only a crying mother, a caring brother
and a friend who loved him like a brother.
The stock has a story to tell but no one to tell it.
He was a journalist freelancing the world for a story
and now he is the story and the title of that story?
“They found a sock!”
I wish he were here to write it.
We have now only three pieces of the jigsaw,
The sock was on, in his own words on a card,
“a fantastic journey”
The soldiers came and there was a shot
And of course, there is a sock.
And there in Asia the sock stopped walking and the journey
was only the very first step of this fantastic journey.
and now they have found this sock a mother stops crying.
but no, she starts crying all over again.
“Oh no!” she said – that is all she said.
What else can a mother say to a sock that is crying?
Yes, on November the eighth they found a sock
and a thirty year search was over
This is not a sock that is hung on a Christmas tree,
but a sock that will always be.
For once there was life in that sock and now there is a memory.
“Oh no!” that is all she said.
What else can a mother say?
Frank A Manitta