Remember when “frisson” was the hot word?  I do; about 15 – 20 years ago, maybe.  All of a sudden I heard and read it everywhere. It was journalism’s pet noun for a while, although some people incorrectly used it as a adjective.  It was always used in a positive context, meaning a little shiver of joy or thrill.  It sounded pretentious, I thought, and then it was extra annoying because everyone was using it like they were the first.  It became tired very quickly, and then disappeared, thankfully.

I was watering my garden this morning, enjoying the tranquil quiet of flowers and butterflies, and all of a sudden I experienced one; a frisson.  The word popped into my mind simultaneously with the little shiver of joy.  A word I had not thought of in years.  I was equally amazed by both the feeling and the long forgotten word showing up.  Perhaps they just go together in a way that defies grammar and translation.  What is the word for a little shiver of acceptance?

Astrologers’ Oil


I recently received an astrological reading. I had given the astrologer my birth stats, where and when; the usual information that astrologers need in order to prepare your chart.  With this info they tell you what all the planets were up to at the moment that you were born and therefore the influences that they will foist upon you the rest of your life.  I find these readings a fun thing to do, and sometimes I get helpful information.  The woman told me many things she saw in my planets which coincided with my reality, which is always good for the reading’s credibility. Then she started telling me some upcoming things that I had to either work through or look forward to. This is always nice information to have so that when the shit hits the fan you can’t blame yourself because it’s all the planets’ fault.  She told me something that was going to happen later this year that is very desirable, but truly very unlikely.  Still, it’s nice to be given the feeling that something so unrealistic but cool could happen to you simply because it’s in your destiny.  You do have to behave and lean heavily in the direction of that possible happenstance so as not to miss opportunities that could bring it to fruition.  You also want to be mindful so that you don’t inadvertently screw up the whole thing.  Mindfulness is always good, right?

The astrologist also told me that I needed to oil my body every day.  All of it.  Even twice a day if I felt like it.  She recommended a light sesame oil.  I am totally into moisturizing my face, but oiling my whole body seemed a little excessive. I remember once reading that wrestlers in ancient Greece would oil their entire bodies before competing and it immediately conjured up the image of an end-of-the-day slurry of oil and sweat and dirt.  I don’t wrestle, but an oily body did not sound pleasant.  Because the astrologist had established a sufficient amount of good will and credibility, I decided to try it anyway.  It did seem rather indulgent at first, but it also felt like I was quenching a chronic thirst that I didn’t realize I had.  The oil seem to get absorbed and it made my skin feel great. I liked that feeling so much during the day, that I decided to do it at bedtime as well. I had to start wearing pajamas, however, in order not to oil up the sheets. It quickly became a nurturing gift that I was giving my body every day; at least as gratifying as makeup and a good haircut.  The astrologist had given me a more important reason why she felt I should do this; she said I had a hard time setting boundaries between myself and other people’s needs and that this simple layer of oil on my skin would act as a literal and conceptual barrier to help me maintain separation.  I immediately pictured needy people grabbing for me and me squirting away like a greased pig.

Thanks to my astrologer, I have been informed of this fabulous thing that’s going to happen for me later this year, if I do my homework.  If simply applying sesame oil to my whole body twice a day can literally or otherwise grease the skids, I’m in.

Stumbling Up the Garden Path

You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt. – Author Unknown

This quote sums up my path to gardening.  I was never a plant person.  I am a visual artist; a painter, a sculptor.  I make things with my hands.  Plants make themselves.  I never quite got other people’s fascination with gardening and plants.  After reading May Sarton’s works many years ago, I admired her patient passion for her garden, but still didn’t understand it or envy it.  My attitude was that plants, domesticated to a garden setting, are needy.  It takes a lot of time and attention to cultivate them to your liking, and then when you turn your back, they go ahead and do what they want anyway.  When you are making visual art you bend your medium to your will and then it stays that way; much more gratifying to my impatient nature.

What drove me to gardening was psychotic dementia; not mine, my father’s.  The last few years of his life were grim with everything no one wants to see an aging parent go through.  You especially don’t want to go through it with them, but I was my father’s caretaker, determined to do the right thing.  As bad as it was for me, it was far worse for him; I suffered, he suffered, then I suffered again for him.  My support system included comfort food, red wine, therapy, and pharmaceuticals, but after a few years I began to feel like I was losing ground right along with my father.

One day I went to Home Depot and parked down by the garden center because there were more spaces there.  On my way through the garden area, I noticed some plants.  They were robust and green and somehow appealing.  I did my other shopping and when I came back through the garden area, I stopped and actually looked at the plants.  As I stood there I felt a little bubble of calm arise in me.  I hadn’t felt calm in a long time.  Whether is was some neurological effect in my brain caused by the wavelength of the color green, or the concentration of newly minted oxygen in that environment, or both, I suddenly felt . . . good.  The longer I wandered around looking at plants, the better I felt.  I bought some and took them home and planted them.  I was doing hopeless crisis care-taking at the time, and the act of planting those little plants, then watering them, then checking on them every day to see how they were doing, was pure pleasure and a balm like no other.  It was care-taking with hope.  From then on, when things got tough, I planted plants.

I knew nothing about plants, so I put a lot of wrong plants in the wrong places for a long time.  My artist’s eye was simply drawn to certain plants and how they looked.  My art is all about pattern and texture and structure, so that’s what I was attracted to in plants.  I squandered some good plants due to my horticultural ignorance, but I did pay attention and learned by experience.  Color was of little interest, so flowering plants weren’t my thing; just the play of light on form and texture, and the juxtaposition of line and shape.  My garden was a green art work I was building, and unlike my other works, this piece was just for me.

Now several years later, my father is gone, the art market that once supported me is gone, but the garden and I are still here.  Someone is quoted as saying, “Unemployment is capitalism’s way of getting you to plant a garden.” I had already started a garden, but unemployment has been a boon for it.  Planting, moving, replanting, pruning, weeding, fertilizing, watering, puttering, and simple plant gazing can easily become a full time job.  It certainly is a full time education.

Here are some of the things I have learned about gardening:

There are micronutrients in soil which can only be absorbed into the human body through the tender tissue underneath one’s fingernails and between the toes.  These nutrients contain chemical compounds which enhance positive mood and sense of well-being.  For this reason, gardening gloves and shoes are ultimately a health risk.

When one becomes a gardener, the occurrence of rain shifts from a non-event, or a nuisance, to a cause for humble celebration.  Rain ceases to be a mere meteorological event and suddenly looms large as a beneficent blessing from the gods, a nurturing gift that plants and the people who grow them appreciate only too well.

Plants are Buddhists who don’t have to practice; they just are.  They do not rush, nor can they be rushed, because there is no such thing as the future to a plant. There is just the now.  I think that is why I feel so calm in the presence of plants; they do not reflect any feelings of want or frustration and certainly don’t validate them in me.  We tend to project a lot of our feelings onto plants and our relationships with them (especially when it comes to weeds), but that is our problem, not theirs.

Plants devotedly mind their own business, and therefore are exceptionally good at what they do.

The most important thing I have learned from gardening is how much I have to learn from plants and about plants.  And how good they make me feel whether I learn anything or not.  At the very least, I can bury a lot of troubles just by digging in the dirt;  without gloves and wearing flip flops.

Social Security

I experienced a Trump supporter today.  In theory, anyway.  We didn’t speak to each other and he was not sporting that regulation ball cap, so I only presume he was a Trump supporter because of the stereotype.  The vicious spew of bigotry and white male bile that I was witness to was so reminiscent of Trump-trash-talk that it just struck me – he’s one of them.

Lou and I had been at the Social Security Administration office exploring our filing options now that Lou is 66.  After looking at all the options and doing the math, we determined that now is not a bad time for both of us to start collecting; Lou collecting his and me collecting part of his.  I won’t actually start collecting my whopping $400 a month for another 4 years, but the way it’s set up, if my payout is less than half of his, I am entitled to part of his.  Who knew?  It’s ironic, because as two career artists, we haven’t paid in bunches of Social Security over the years, but Lou had paid in enough to make our situation comforting.  The young woman who tried to help us understand the morass of rules was wonderful.  She kept pointing out more and more ways we can actually benefit from our modest Social Security stockpile.  Our expectations were so modest, it felt like Christmas; one little middle-age-rite-of-passage gift after another.  And the holiday will continue; starting next month, a little present will automatically show up in our checking account every month.  For all the government bashing and Social Security doom and gloom I have heard, today’s revelations were pretty damn rosy.  I kept thinking: what a great country we live in.

When we left the office, we were joined by a man I had seen in there speaking to another Social Security officer.  He was maybe late 50’s, early 60’s, a little grizzled, wearing an oversized Harley Davidson shirt and walking with a cane, although with no obvious limp.  In the elevator on the way up to the 5th floor of the parking garage, where all Social Security visitors are asked to park, he was silent, while Lou and I quietly marveled at what we were just beginning to understand about how this is all going to work.  When the elevator door opened, a woman was standing there to greet this man.  She was crying.  When she began to ask him what had gone wrong, which she somehow already knew, he launched into a tantrum about how he had been cheated by the system.  His verbal vitriol elevated as we all walked towards our cars, parked side by side, as it turned out.  Lou and I quickly slowed our pace to avoid the wake of his tirade.  The man’s litany included: he couldn’t pay his bills, they didn’t give a shit, it was his money but because he was white, he couldn’t have any of it, if he were black or Haitian, they would’ve given him everything, the whole system is bullshit, that a white man in this country can’t get what’s his is bullshit, etc.  The expletives became uglier as his volume increased. The poor woman was terrified and kept crying.  They got into one of those huge Tahoe/Escalade/Whatever/Megatruck/SUV’s, the kind that get about 5 miles to the gallon; she crawled into the passenger seat, crying.  He opened the rear door on his side, threw his cane in and slammed the door shut, then flung himself into the driver’s seat and slammed that door even harder.  He burned rubber out of his parking space, and continued to do so louder and louder as he raced down all five flights down out of the parking garage.  Lou and I held our breaths as we waited for the crash, but thankfully it never came.  All I could think was, “He’s one of them.”

We know bad theatre when we see it, and this was pretty bad.  Not that the man’s pain and anger weren’t real; certainly the woman’s pain was very real.  It seemed obvious that a big part of his performance was for us, the dopey older white couple who were enjoying thinking they had just hit some kind of Social Security jackpot.  Maybe the performance was a needed release for him.  Still, it was scary theatre; his palpable anger at the government and just about everyone else, and his bitter blame-lashing at blameless people who live daily with levels of discrimination and injustice he will never ever know, much less suffer.  It was bad theatre, but it was also . . . Hate.

Hate is very scary.  Something has gone very wrong in that poor man’s life, and for that I am sorry.  But he is still driving an expensive gas guzzling vehicle.  And he is still white, which in this country gives him an unfair leg up, regardless of all else.  I am just sorry he hates so much.  And I am really sorry that Trump is making it okay, or even laudable, to hate so much.  I thought as a country we were better than that.  Even a generous Social Security system is no consolation if we are not.

Dear Daddy,

Dear Daddy,


Okay, it’s been almost two years since you left, and this is my first correspondence.  I’m sorry; I just didn’t want to have anything to do with you anymore.  Even avoidance gets old, however.  I am having to deal with your house now.  I need to sell it, and it’s needed a lot of work, so I have been forced back into the scene of your last stand.  Here is what is coming up for me:


First of all, you know I love you.  And I know you love me.  I often forgot all that back then.  As a bad habit, I still forget it now.  I need to work on that.  Ours was not a hearts and flowers kind of love, but it was love all the same.  Otherwise we could not have borne what we did together.


When I go into your house, what I immediately think of is all the pain we both experienced there.  But what I feel in unexpected waves is the love of two people trying to take care of each other in their own awkward ways.  I’m not sure why my mind goes to the dark side, why it doesn’t follow my heart.  The painful visuals are so engraved into my minds eye that they take over the scene.  I have been told it is a legitimate form of PTSD, and that it will take a long time to recover from the war we both fought for so long.


You got drafted into an old person’s war.  You were a captain, and I was your . . . “subaltern” is the word that comes to mind (all those British novels I’ve read, I guess).   I look it up; yes, it works: “an officer in the British army below the rank of captain, esp. a second lieutenant.”  Except for the British part; but it’s a great word so we will use it.  It sounds like a less official position than “second lieutenant”, more accidental, and so I was.  So there we were for almost ten years, being strafed and bombed by an enemy we thought we knew, but knew only enough to fear it.  Fear begets anger, and so we were often angry; you outwardly and nastily, me inwardly and depressedly.  Anger is a self-inflicted wound, and I have the scars to show it.  But I never showed it to you; that much I know I did well.


There were moments, however, sometimes hours or even days – cease fires, if you will – where we cautiously relaxed a little and busied ourselves with the day to day.  We both knew the enemy planes were always overhead, but if there was enough cloud cover, we pretended.  We shopped, we watched a ball game.  We went for bike rides, we petted the cats.  Inevitably, the low drone of the bombers came back, and we found ourselves in battle once more.  It seems that eventually the enemy infiltrated our ranks, and pitched battles were replaced by insidious subterfuge; things missing or changed around, tainted food, and a pernicious miasma that imbued everything.  That’s when you began to weaken.  I did, too.  Our greatest fear was then not the presence of the enemy, but the knowledge that he was never going to leave until you did.  It was a forced surrender, and as best as I can remember, you did it with dignity.


Oddly, I don’t remember a lot from that time; the fog of war, as they say.  What I remember too well are the earlier years and the sickening slide into a world neither one of us anticipated or wanted to enter.  You stayed in your house, however;  you never gave ground that way.  The enemy had to take you on your own turf.


Have I milked this metaphor enough?  Probably not for you; of all your life’s experiences, your time in WWII looms largest and most significant of all.  You loved to talk about the war.  And even though it is only a metaphor, it is the closest experience I will ever have that mimics a war in it’s hideousness and spiritual depletion.  I am lucky; I only had to fight this one war.  You had to fight two.  May I say, Captain, that in both cases you comported yourself with merit and should be proud of yourself.  I am very, very proud of you.  And I also remember now that I love you.

Parting Gifts from my Father

My father passed away on November 23, 2009.  On the same date a year later, my husband and I flew to Monroe, Louisisana, my family home town, to plant my father’s ashes in his native soil.  It took the Thanksgiving holiday to enable all the scattered siblings and cousins to collect in Monroe for the mini-reunion that my sister planned around the keynote event – my father’s final concession to a force greater than himself; who even knew there existed such a thing?  I thought all the gifts from my father had been delivered prior to his passing, but he had saved three for this final parting.  He must have known I would need them.

I was anxious to get back to my home town and see my siblings and other family, but I had enjoyed a whole year without having to deal my father, and to finally be on this journey was stressful.  I could not ignore that the trip was in large part about him.  I was distracted and moody all day of our return travel, and wrote that off to subconscious anniversary-itis, but I was stunned when I burst into tears as the plane touched down at the Monroe airport.  I had to cry until whatever was expressing itself was spent.  Afterwards I was still upset; it felt like I was going to have to face my father one more time, and I did not want to go there.

I looked after him for almost ten years.  When he was 76 and seemed not to be doing well on his own anymore, I convinced him to give up his long time home and independence and move hundreds of miles to a house around the corner from me.  That was when we began our careful dance with his dementia/psychosis which slowly evolved over the next 10 years into a crippling choreography of mutual sadness and pain.  My father had been a passionate and expert dancer in many styles, but I had to lead in this dance, while pretending all the while only to follow.   His moves were about trying to stay on his cognitive feet while his illness conspired to trip him at every turn.   My moves ranged from covertly propping him back up whenever he stumbled to side-stepping his hurled objects and expletives.  A year after his passing, I needed for the memory of that dance to go away.

It was Tuesday when we arrived in Monroe.  Wednesday and Thursday were balmy days in the 80’s, full of family and food, especially Thanksgiving.  The atmosphere was fun and easy and I was relaxed.  Friday, our cemetery day, dawned windy and a sharp 38 degrees.  An unwelcome anxiety woke me that morning.  We had no particular schedule; it was just my siblings and I and two cousins who were going to do the deed; no service of any kind, as per my father’s request.  I asked my sister if we could just go and get it over with and then all retire to some warm, steamy diner for a comfort food wake.  She said there were no such places that would be open the day after Thanksgiving.  She was heating up cinnamon buns and pigs-in-blankets for breakfast.  I never eat those kinds of things, but I ate some, and they made me feel more anxious.  As we were mobilizing to leave for the cemetery, I opened a bottle of red wine and poured a jelly glass full; it was fortification against the cold, I announced, but that was definitely the lesser part of it.

The Liberty Hill Primitive Baptist Cemetery is a 20 minute ride out a little two lane highway, then another 10 minute ride down a small road that runs through remote woods and small farms.  It is located between Farmerville and Sterlington in Union Parish.  It is where my mother’s side of the family is buried, dating from the 1850’s.  The delta land all around there is flat as a pancake, but the cemetery is on little hilly rise, making it literally a heightened place.  As we wound down the small rural road the first of my father’s parting gifts arrived – the white mule.

My play, The Picnic, is set in a small Louisisana town like Monroe.  The main character goes looking for an old country cemetery where her family is buried.  She has not been there since a child and only remembers the landmark for the turn-off being a white horse standing in a field on the right.  Forty years later, she drives along, sees a white horse in a field, turns right, and finds the cemetery.  I had not been to Liberty Hill Cemetery in perhaps 30 years myself, and had never driven there, so I had no memories of how to get there, landmarks or otherise.  As we drove along, suddenly on the right side of the road was a small pasture.  Standing in the middle was a white mule.  A little further past that on the left side was another white mule in another pasture.   A backup landmark in case I missed the first one?   A small bubble of coincidence-wonder was growing in my mind, edging out some of my anxiety.  Note to playwright; change the white horse to a mule – more evocative.  Parting gift Number 1 – thanks, Daddy.

We buried my father’s ashes next to those of my mother and the whole time I tried to float above the scene, to not become emotionally engaged in what was really happening.  I wanted to be past this, big time.  Due to the cold, we did not linger and quickly got back in our cars to go home.  As we stopped at the little two lane highway which led back to town to the left, I looked right and saw, not 50 yards down the road, a low slung, tired looking building with a sign which read “50’s Diner”; a few cars in the parking lot indicated that it was open.  Here was the diner I had longed for since early that morning.  It took some pressure to get my sister to turn in that direction and actually pull into the lot in front of the diner.  It did look a little less than appetizing, but it was an open diner and I was determined.  When we walked inside a menu board greeted us with a picture of Elvis, the specials of the day, and a list of a dozen available homemade pies.  The place was warm and redolent of fried food and baked sugar; a more perfect balm for my sad soul could not have existed that morning.  Sure, it hadn’t been redecorated in twenty years, and probably not dusted too well in five or ten, but it was heaven at that moment.  I had the pulled pork sandwich with sweet potato and jalapeno fries and a big fountain Coke; perfect comfort fare for a Southern wake.  Parting gift Number 2 – thanks, Daddy.

Everyone enjoyed the diner food and the cozy atmosphere.  Whatever pall I had felt hanging over the morning was lifted and we all chatted up a storm.  I was happily listening to something my cousin, who was sitting across the table from me, was saying, when my gaze wandered to a countertop behind her.  Propped up there among some pretty awful geegaw junk for sale was a book; it’s title read “Smith Family Recipes.”  Smith is our family name.  The cookbook was a self-published weird conglomeration of a certain Mrs. Smith’s favorite recipes, and exemplified the best of white trash cuisine.  Most of the ingredients in almost every recipe came out of a can, except for the grated cheese and the marshmallows.  Ro-tel tomatoes figured prominently.  There were recipe contributions from some of Mrs. Smith’s extended family; one of these called for a trip to McDonald’s for a happy meal.  A picture of Mrs. Smith showed her to be a grandmotherly type, maybe even a distant backwoods relative – who knows?  In my same play with the white mule, a grandmother’s recipes figure prominently as a throughline of family culture and memories, and as I sat there with my family enjoying some not-quite-so-trashy Southern favorites, I recognized my father’s third gift: that I was in the right place at the right time – a warm Southern diner on a frigid cemetery morning.

These personal parting gifts told me that my long journey with my father was officially over. To calm all my fears, he had provided coincidence, comfort food, and a cookbook to take home as a reminder that although he was gone, he had not forgotten me that morning.  The sweet potato fries were an extra little bendiction, and maybe even a belated Daddy nod of thank you.



My father was always a suspicious type, never trusting anyone about anything.  When we were growing up, he constantly warned us about the people we associated with, the places we went, the activities we got involved with.  The world as he saw it was full of treacheries, both deliberate and accidental.  His paranoia embarrassed me; it was too eccentric, and too self-centered.  It annoyed me that he felt so large in the scheme of things that he assumed the rest of the world was always thinking about him and how to take advantage of him.  

After we all left home, my father bought 50 acres out in the countryside and built his dream house.  His driveway was almost a mile long and wound through huge live oaks and uncleared scrub.  The clearing where he placed his house was ringed by live oaks, with clear pasture beyond.  It was an idyllic natural setting, as quiet and peaceful as one could imagine.  The first floor of his house was almost all floor to ceiling glass, so from the inside one could see all the surrounding nature.  By the same token, one could easily see in from the outside; an amazing degree of exposure for a man so mistrusting.  Thankfully, there was no one out there to see in, not for miles.

All the same, my father always left some cash on his kitchen counter so that if upon returning home he looked in the window and saw that the money was gone, he would know that someone had broken in.  For thirty years that money lay there.  Every time I saw it, it irritated me.   He didn’t ever seem afraid of anything, and he was usually armed, so his constant expectation of villainy seemed more about his disdain for Fate.  If somehow, somewhere he had a date with an inevitable thief,  he was going to be prepared when the guy showed up.

Maybe this all began when he was a fighter pilot in WWII.  People were truly gunning for him then.  A certain reasoned paranoia was wise for a soldier, and it kept him alive, no doubt.   He escaped being robbed of his life then, and perhaps decided at that young age that non-trust of others was a useful survival skill.  That was what he tried to teach us, anyway.

Maybe it was amplified by my mother’s death at age forty-four.  She was driving to the beauty parlor and another car pulled out from a side street right in front of her.  The braking distance was too short and my mother’s car slammed into the front end of the other car.  My mother died 10 days later from the internal injuries she suffered.  The other driver walked away.  That was a grand larceny if there ever was one.

After that my father had years of failed relationships with other women.  He was handsome, successful, elegant, and superficially a true Southern gentlemen in his treatment of women, and the girlfriends came in a steady stream.  They also inevitably left.  He drove them crazy.  He was always suspicious of where they went and what they did.  If they went to the store to get something, he would time their absence, and if the drive took longer than he had previously clocked it (I’m not kidding), they would be interrogated upon return.  One could say that he was afraid they might rob him of his trust, but since he never trusted anyone, they had no chance.  

To my knowledge my father was never robbed in the sense that he always anticipated, so his paranoia was really prescience, a foreknowledge of what was to come.   At some early age he got a glance through the folds of time, and saw thievery in his future.  It should have come as no surprise then, when sometime in his seventies, dementia and psychosis began stealthily taking his mind away from him.  He is now eighty-six and the robbery has been severe.  At first it was just short term memory and a few words here and there, but now it has been everything.  His career, his dream home, the ability to drive and manage his financial affairs, all life long pleasures, personal independence – all gone.  He can no longer read, or even watch television.  He needs full time help to take care of him, so his much cherished privacy is gone.  He has to be fed and also wears a diaper, so even his most basic dignities have been stolen.  In lucid moments he tells me he wants to die because he has nothing left, but his ability to do that on his own is missing, too.  The only thing the thief hasn’t taken is his perfectly healthy heart, which goes on beating and shackling him to his emptied out existence.  The scale of this heist absolutely justified a life long fear of being robbed.

Caretaking comes with it’s own kind of thievery, so he was actually right to warn me all along.  First I was robbed of my father as I knew him, then over the years I have lost sleep, time, personal and professional opportunities, health, and friends.  Fatigue and depression are my constant companions, and they leave little time for anything else.  I feel like I’ve lost my identity as an artist.  People no longer ask me about upcoming exhibits or what I’m working on; they ask me how my father is.  My identity as a caretaker is not a good fit, either.  I feel vague and uncentered most of the time, not to mention scared, angry, frustrated, sad, and resentful, depending on the moment.  Despite years of my father’s warnings, I never believed him and so I was unprepared for this.  He was the one always guarded, and yet it ultimately did him no good.  The thief slipped up on him undetected and leisurely set to work, so why should I, the non-vigilant, have been spared?

Both my father’s anxiety about thievery, and my outrage, are ridiculous, of course. Our lives are only loaned to us at birth – we know we have to give them back someday. Because of that, all of our stuff, large and small, tangible and intangible, is also only on loan. We don’t get to take any of it with us. Neither do the thieves. So what’s the problem?

Like my father, I have a strong heart, physically, and hopefully, emotionally.  Someday when this thief is gone, I hope I will be able to find myself in the ransacked mess that he has left behind.   My father’s only hope is that he will just finish the job.