October 7, 2008
Honky Tonk Hero
I began this month thinking about the first anniversary of my grandfatherís death, which feels like an eternity ago. Iíve lost the ability to reference the passage of time by my own senses and Iíve taken to referencing events by Dixieís life. Sheís only 20 months old and nearly everything in my life has changed during that brief time. If you look at my life one year ago and compare it to today, there are not many similarities.
As I mentioned, it all started with my grandfather passing on the 17th of October last year. Then, Anna I broke up shortly thereafter, which led to me leaving Ithaca and my job to relocate in Houston with the Clinton Foundation. As if it werenít enough to have a new place to live, a new girlfriend, a new job and to have lost my grandfather all in one yearís time, this past weekend my father passed away too.
Wendell Crow left Earth at 1:45 in the afternoon on October 4, 2008 with his wife and two oldest children present. He was suffering from tuberculosis and had a reaction to the medicine used to treat his illness. His liver shut down and never recovered. He is remembered by Claudia and his children Caleb, Caroline, Jillian, Samantha and Max.
He was a carpenter by trade and a man from another time. Even the illness that took him was from another time. He never adopted the standard American dream and never bought in to the culture of more. His life goals were to keep a low profile, live simply and in harmony with all manner of creatures around you.
From my youth, I have memories of his group of friends that seemed so free and tight that the good days would never end, but as I grew I saw his best friend Jay die, and the group went their separate ways. I didnít see my dad much in the later years; no one did besides the immediate family. He became a man estranged from everything, no parents, no brothers, no old friends.
This week, with so much on my mind, I feel slightly numb. I too wish I were in another time, a time with endless wilderness, where food was what you could chase down or gather. I want to ride off in to the distance and leave the world behind. So much of my day to day is pointless, but I do it to remain in society and feed myself, because thereís no where I can go to avoid society and I go through the motions to avoid self destruction.
I donít know whatís going to happen to the family now. Some will move, some may stay in San Antonio. I hope we can all live on and be better people. The truth is that I donít have any guidance on what to accomplish, what to become. He only talked about how to live and what sort of man to be; I never felt any pressure to be any certain way. In my adulthood, I think of this as some sort of zen peace, but for him it was more aptly described as cowboy philosophy.
I remember him saying, ďWin, Lose or Draw, make them know you were there.Ē I think Iíve managed that.
In his memory, I leave you with an old favorite of his, "Honky Tonk Heroes" written by Billy Joe Shaver and performed by Waylon Jennings in 1973
Low Down Leaving Sun
Done, did everything that needs doin'
Woe is me, why can't I see?
I'd best be leaving well enough alone
Them neon light nights, couldn't stay out of fights
Keep a-haunting my memories
There's one in every crowd for crying out loud
Why was it always turning out to be me?
Where does it go? The good lord only knows
Seems like it was just the other day
I was down at Green Gables, hawking them tables
And generally blowing all my hard earned pay
Piano rolled blues, danced holes in my shoes
There weren't any other way to be
For lovable losers, no account boozers
and honky tonk heroes like me