top of page

Alone Time

(It's not always about Astrology)

The poet spoke of seeing his father sitting alone at the kitchen table smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee in the early morning hours.

As if someone gently shook me by the shoulder, the poet’s remembrance jars my own . . .

. . . and I recall my older friend’s story of his father rising at 2 am to brew a pot of coffee, then chain smoking while he drank the pot before going to the seven day a week railroad job where he never missed a day in 20 years.

I recall my younger friend telling the story of his father sitting at the kitchen table at 5 am drinking coffee and smoking until he gave up cigarettes cold turkey – then just drinking coffee - before going off to his assembly line factory job.

I recall my own father who rose at 5 am to take a hot bath and smoke. The only time he could bathe in a household of 11 people with a single bathroom. Two hours later, we kids would find him sound asleep in a cold tub, the remains of a cigarette somehow still in his dangling hand.

I recall my mother who relished the late hours of the evening – kids in bed, husband at his second job – when she could read or do needlepoint in the quiet without the relentless assault of “mom” constantly in her ears.

It’s virtually impossible for us to see our parents as people.

We can’t imagine them as young kids tearing around the house creating noise and chaos, driving their elders crazy.

We can’t imagine them as teenagers trying out forbidden “adult” things and groping each other’s genitals in cars or parks after dark.

We can’t imagine them as they first experienced sex, and we certainly can’t imagine them engaging in cunnilingus or fellatio.

We can’t imagine them as young adults swollen with dreams and ambition and possibility only to have those interrupted by the pre-birth control arrival of a squalling baby (no respecter of normal sleeping patterns) requiring those dreams and possibilities be put on hold or abandoned altogether.

They weren’t people, they were providers of food and comfort, then sources of income and still later officers of the court – sheriff, judge, jury, and executioner.

Yet still later, they were abysmally ignorant, hopelessly out of touch, sometimes embarrassing.

Even as adults, it’s hard for us to see our parents as simple people who did the best they could with what they had to work with and went out of their ways to scrape out an hour or so to be alone with their thoughts.

We grandly proclaim it “alone time”. For them, it was simply “quiet”.


bottom of page