My enemies to the west

With Sunday falling on the 31st of May today our Church Choir had one last performance before our summer hiatus began. As one of the Big mouths in the bass section I was needed to help belt out our anthem. Despite a smaller than usual crew we must have acquitted ourselves well because we got a nice round of applause from the equally threadbare congregation. They probably save it up all year for our final bow.

What I remember most vividly of the sermon was the story that our pastor began it with and how I figured it applied to me.

A battered and bloodied knight was returning home from his wars on a limping steed. He’d been gone for some time and the King rushed out to greet him appalled by his appearance. “What happened to you,” asked the King.

“Sire I’ve been off looting and pillaging the villages of your enemies to the west,” explained the King’s hero.

“But I have no enemies to the west,” said the shocked king.

Returned the Knight, “I’m afraid, your majesty, that you do now.”

I feel a bit like the story’s king. I returned to serving on the Duluth School Board confident that long time friendships would see me though but instead I feel as though I have been looted and pillaged.

I have a trove, if not a treasure, of blog posts on items related to the Board to add. They just keep accumulating. I hardly know where to begin. They may be the beginning of a book to raise funds to pay off Art Johnston’s legal bills………if the court fails to award them to him…….another post I’ve been meaning to write.

Instead I’ve been doing what I set out to do when I began running for the Board again in 2013. I’ve been putting family first.

That point was driven home to me tonight after I spent three hours reading through family stories my Aunt had written and sent to me at my request over a month ago. She called a few days ago and left a message wondering if I’d gotten them because I carelessly failed to thank her. I couldn’t bring myself to call her back until I spent the five hours necessary to read them all. It was five hours that the last month’s worth of school board shenanigans made hard to set aside.

I poured a glass of wine at 6 and sat down to the task tonight. I’m home solo as Claudia is off with her father for a week in Florida.

About half way through I checked my cell to see if I had any messages from Claudia. I found a note from Mike Miernicki extolling the retirement party for Assistant Superintendent Ed Crawford which I somehow failed to note because I resist looking at the school board email. Ed’s a good guy and my son has always had high praise for him. I should have attended like I did the staff retirement soiree a couple days earlier.

I put the phone back down and kept reading the family history until I finished at 10:30. It ended with my aunt’s recollection of my Father willing himself to get out of a wheel chair 28 years ago to recount to a chapel full of family and friends the story of his Mother’s life. This was written before my Father’s death that followed his Mother’s one year later. Aunt Mary writes that she expects him to die soon. At the time I refused to entertain this possibility. Tears welled up as I thought back 27 years to the occasion. The following year I would be doing the same thing for my Father’s funeral, telling his life’s story.

I will be able to call my Aunt Mary now to tell her what wonderful memories her writing has conjured up for me. This will relieve me of the guilt I feel for my inconsideration all because that damn knight had been despoiling the school district I’m sworn to protect.

I ignored the despoliation for the weekend, except in my thoughts. I spent ten hours yesterday fashioning holders for seven green flower boxes that Claudia wanted placed around our sun porch. (take a look up as you pass by on 21st Avenue) I scoured a half dozen garden centers and hardware stores and googled for a couple hours but found nothing that would fit our vinyl railing. After a few days of thought I came up with a solution that involved me cutting fourteen separate holders – two per flower box. Each required screwing six separate pieces of lumber together. I cut the 84 pieces from 48 feet of lumber using 140 deck screws and 56 machine screws to hold them together. This effort required over ten hours on Saturday and four hours today (following an afternoon with my grandsons. Priorities!

That damned knight can trash our schools but I’ll not let him trash my family. Someday he’ll be unhorsed.

About the author