Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | September 11, 2017

Happy New Year, Labor Day

Labor Day is New Year’s Day for the protagonist of this novel.

Happy New Year, Labor Day

“Every year of his conscious life fit completely on one side or the other of the demarcation line of September, exactly at Labor Day weekend. Summer and the old school year fell to the rear. Autumn and the new school year stood, waiting, on the other side. Even a dozen years of work since college could neither blur the distinctions nor dampen the need to divide, label and catalogue the year. Except of course, for September 2001 when the 11th divided life as it divided the world.

Jack recalled a year like pulling a book from a library shelf. He smelled the dust, the ink, the paper of the year as he ran his hand on the binding. He felt the weight of the names of the past few years…”

From Rosetta 6.2, a novel by James Atticus Bowden


Okay, Labor Day was last weekend. So, I’m getting slow – not surprisingly so about some things.

This 2016-17 AY ended and I’m putting its book up on my mental shelf. Tentative title, “Surprisingly Unsurprising.”

There were big events. My oldest sister, Elizabeth Ann Bowden Buehrer, died at age 72. My youngest grandchild, William James Atticus Buchanan, was born. My oldest daughter and kids had their family shattered. A year ago I literally climbed down from my newly lifted house on large cribbing to be out of my home, Sanctuary, for 3 months. The great expense of lifting, masonry, concrete and carpentry was worth the greater sense of security against frequent flooding.

Yet, it was surprisingly unsurprising how this year passed as the 4th full year of life without my late wife. I guess time keeps passing – duh me. Time had a hard stop for me in December 2013. I’ve had a purpose for all the time since then – especially to be as good a father and grandfather as I can be, since their Mom is gone. Year 1 was just surviving. Year 2 was getting healthy – coming back. Year 3 was the “New Normal” – according to the late Nellie. Yet, it surprises me that Year 4 is so like Year 3.

(You’re thinking, “Of course it is. Or, what is he confused about?”)

I’m amazed by the math of life. Nellie and I were ‘us’ for 41 years. I’ve been a widower for 4 years. That’s 10 per cent of our time. One-tenth is significant. If I live 20 more years – like my granddaddy Bowden – a third of my adult life and most of my grandchildren’s lives will be without my wife. I don’t understand how someone who means so much to me – simply isn’t here in the flesh. She’s with me in my mind. Always.

Also, I find it surprisingly, unsurprisingly normal that I can care for another lady and not feel conflict. None. Earlier, female relationship felt very awkward. This is a slow, steady path of walking a loving relationship forward.

Finally, there’s the aging thing. The markers of decline indicate I’ll probably need new hips and cataracts in a decade. I need to reverse the 50% blockage of one artery to the heart or suffer the consequences of increasing plaque. Yet, I feel young, vigorous and incredibly, awesomely alive. Every morning the mirror lies to me about my age. I wonder how long can this continue? Daily, I have more to do than time to do it.

I thank the Lord Jesus Christ, out loud, every morning when I rise in the beauty of my home, Sanctuary. I’m more grateful for all things – large and small – than I’ve ever been in my life. I never far from instant tears or laughter. Perhaps that seems child-like. I think it comes from deep currents of long, swirling thoughts and emotions. My passion fits me, even as a partner to my real peace and contentment.

Yes, I’ve got peace like a river. Yet, I’m up and ready to be “all in” for what is worthy. The only reason to wish to be younger – would be serve in the good fights more and love longer.

For me and this year past, I can mark the book binding – Surprisingly Unsurprising. Or, I could call it “Another”.

Labor Day is the first day of a new year for the protagonist of this novel.


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