After worship, went to Walmart and as I waited for the Oil Change walked over to the Book Aisle.
Thankfully the first book that took me in is the Boss’s “Born To Run“.
I think it is a good read.
Pasted below is a jagged excerpt.
Book One – Growin’ Up
The house I live i with my grandparents is owned by my grandmother “Nana” McNicholas, my grandmother’s mother, alive and kicking just up the street. I’ve been told our town’s first child service and first funeral were held in our living room. We live here beneath the lingering eyes of my father’s oldest sister, my Aunt Virginia, dead at five, killed by a truck while riding her tricycle past the corner gas station. Her portrait hovers, breathing a ghostly air into the room and shining her ill-fated destiny over our family gatherings.
Her seemingly benign gaze, in the light of events, now communicates, “Watch out! This world is a dangerous and unforgiving place that will knock your ass off your tricycle and into the dead black unknown and only these poor, misguided and unfortunate souls will miss you.” Her mother, my grandma, heard that message loud and clear. She spent two years in bed after her daughter’s death and sent my father, neglected, with rickets, off to the outskirts of town to live with other relatives while she recovered.
Time passed; my father quit school school at sixteen, working as a floor boy in the Karagheusian Rug Mill. At eighteen, he went to war, sailing on the Queen Mary out of New York City. He served as a truck driver at the Battle of Bulge, saw what little of the world he was going to see and returned home. He met and fell in love with my mother, promising that if she’d marry, he would get a job (red flag!). He worked with his cousin, David “Dim” Cashion, on the line at the Ford Motor plant in Edison and I came along.
For my grandmother, I was the firstborn child of her only son and the first baby in the house since the death of her daughter. My birth returned to her a life of purpose. She seized on me with a vengeance. Her mission became my ultimate protection from the world within and without. Sadly, her blind single-minded devotion would lead to hard feelings with my father and enormous family confusion. It would drag all of us down.
This was the world where I found the beginning of my song. In Catholicism, there existed the poetry, danger, and darkness that reflected my imagination and my inner self. I found a land of great and harsh beauty, of fantastic stories, of unimaginative punishment and infinite reward. It was a glorious and pathetic place I was either shaped for or fit right into.
It has walked alongside me as a waking dream my whole life. So as young adult I tried to make sense of it. I tried to meet its challenge for the very reasons that there are souls to lose and a kingdom of love to be gained. I laid what I’d absorbed across the hardscrabble lives of my family, friends, and neighbors. I turned it into something I could grapple with, understand, something I could even find faith in. As funny as it sounds, I have a “personal” relationship with Jesus.
He remains one of my fathers, though as with my own father, I no longer believe in his godly power. I deeply believe in his love, his ability to save…
My great-grandfather was called “the Dutchman” and I suppose descended from some Netherlanders who wandered down from New Amsterdam not knowing what they were getting themselves into. Thus, we wear the name Springsteen, of Dutch origin, but prominently, here’s where Irish and Italian blood meet. Why? Previous to the Mexicans and African-Americans who harvested Monmouth County crops, the Italians were in the fields with the Irishmen and working the horse farms alongside them.
Recently, I asked my mother how they all ended up with the Irish. She said, “The Italian men were too bossy. We’d had enough of that. We didn’t want men bossing us all around.”
I was not my father’s favorite citizen. As a boy I figured it was just the way men were, distant, uncommunicative, busy within the currents of the grown-up world. As a child you don’t question your parents choices. You accept them. They are justified by the godlike status of parenthood.
If you’re aren’t spoken to, you ‘re worth the time. If you are not greeted with love and affection, you haven’t earned it. If you are ignored, you don’t exist. Control over your behavior is the only card you have to play in the hope of modifying others.
Maybe you have to be tougher, stronger, more athletic, smarter, in some way better … who knows? One evening my father was giving me a few boxing lesson in the living room. I was flattered, excited by his attention, and eager to learn. Things were gong well. And, then he threw a few open-palmed punches to my face that landed a just too hard. It stung. I wasn’t hurt, but a line had been crossed. I knew something was being communicated. We had slipped into the dark nether land beyond father and son.
I sensed what was being said: I was an intruder, a stranger, a competitor in our home and a fearful disappointment. My heart broke and I crumpled. He walked away in disgust.
Unfortunately, my dad’s desire to engage with me almost came after the nightly religious ritual of the “sacred sick pack.” One beer after another in the pitch dark of our kitchen. It was always then that he wanted to see me and it was always the same.
A few moments of feigned parental concern for my well being followed by the real deal: the hostility and raw anger towards sin, the only other man in the house.
It was a shame. He loved me, but couldn’t stand me. He felt we competed for my mother’s affections. We did. He also see in me too much of his real self. My father was built like a bull, always in work clothes; he was strong and physically formidable.
Toward the end of his life, he fought back from death many times. Inside, however, beyond his rage, he harbored a gentleness, timidity, shyness, and a dreamy insecurity.
There were all the things I wore on the outside and the reflection of these qualities in his boy repelled him. It made him angry. It was “soft“. And, he hated “Soft”. Of course, he had been brought up “soft“. A mama’s boy just like me.
One evening at the kitchen table, late in life, when he was not well, he told me a story of being pulled out of a fight he was having in the school yard.
My grandmother had walked away from our house and dragged him home. He recounted his humiliation and said eyes welling… ” I was willing…I was willing.”
He still didn’t understand he could not be risked. He was the one remaining, living child. My grandmother, confused, could not realize her untempered love was destroying the men she was raising.
I told him I understood, that we had been raised by the same woman in some of the formative years of our lives and suffered many of the same humiliations.
However, back in the days when our relationship was at its most tempestuous, these things remained mysteries and created a legacy of pain and misunderstanding.
Videos & Conversations
- Sunday Morning 2016 Bruce Springsteen Talks Autobiography Book ‘Born To Run’
Published On: Sept 22nd, 2016
Legendary singer Bruce Springsteen talks about his new book
an autobiography ‘Born To Run’. His youth, visits the old neighbourhood, battling depression and about losing his dear friend Clarence Clemons.
- Damon Thompson
- Damon Thompson – Authority of Intimacy – Call to the Altar
- Damon Thompson – Authority of Intimacy – Call to the Altar