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The Evolving, Always Newly Told, Story of My Hero

Tomáš Mrnka, October 24, 1935 – July 07, 1971

Dear dad:
 
Father’s day has rolled around once more, and almost 5 decades, in this moment, feels more like 5 seconds, for I will always, and forever, miss you.
 
This apple never fell far from your tree, and for better or for worse, some bits are still hanging on. I get my rebel, my power, my wisdom, my intense and sometimes impulsive from you, as well as my ability to see the truth, and my stubborn-never-give-up. The fragility and dandelion fluff inside, the stuff that we both hid/e from the rest of the world, so that they cannot damage our oh-so-vulnerable human core(s), are also saplings of the gnarled old apple tree I see, the one that represents you in my visual mind, in my heart, in my very core.
 
It never changes for me, this Hallmark holiday, and that day in July, when we lost you. Time does not heal all wounds, it simply grows scar tissue over them which dulls the ache, allows me to think about you with some clarity, remember the entirety of your being, and how you still, almost 46 years after your untimely departure, teach me, guide me, help me keep my rebel on, with some measure of grace and dignity.
 
The evolving, newly told story of my hero
 
I want to tell you this story. It is the evolving, always newly told story of a hero. It changes as I do, through the process of growing up. He, my hero, had to be seen, by me, as human, before he could be my hero, for real for real. He was my first and biological father, Tomáš Mrnka. He was born in the country formerly known as Czechoslovakia on October 24th 1935, and died, under extremely curious circumstances, in a mine shaft in Stewart BC, on July 7th, 1971.
 
It was 12 days before my 10th birthday. He was 36 years old, and when he died, everything I ever hoped for, and dreamed of, died with him. For a while… a very long while.
 
I held him on a pedestal of my own making for many, too many years after his death, and only ever thought about him in a haze of golden glory and undeserved persecution. I only ever told stories of his heroic actions: his undeserved imprisonment in the old country for a democratic cause, his valiant battle to get us, his children and wife, out of the clutches of communism following the Soviet invasion of our original home and native land, and into the country that he wanted more than anything to provide us a new life in. I knew this story so well I could recite it at the mere whisper of his name, and expound at length on his virtues and sacrifices; for his beloved country, for his beloved family.
 
The parts I left out of the story, the human bits, are as important a contributor to the true nature of his hero-status as his me-created perfection. He was the first man of many, to hit me and tell me he loves me in the same moment. He did not do this because he was evil, he did it because that is how children were disciplined; it is what he learned in the environment and culture he grew up in.
 
He was unfaithful to his beloved wife, my beloved mother, and considered somewhat of a Casanova. He was a catch: he had one of the few motorcycles in the country at the time, and a full set of leathers, a rebel with a chip on his shoulder, but he had a cause. He had attitude and the inimitable grin, wit and charm of Rhett Butler, and all the girls wanted him. My mother got him, and forgave him, over and over, to keep him.
 
She had endless discord and conflict with her beloved mother because of him. He was not only imprisoned for voicing his political beliefs against the status quo, he was imprisoned for shooting a law officer. I tell you all of this not to be-smudge his memory; I tell you this to illustrate the full context of his humanity, he was so imperfect, so human, but still a hero not despite it, but because of it. He worked very hard to redeem himself when he brought us here, to make it right, to atone, to take responsibility for the things he did not do well, the things that harmed.
 
I tell you this because we all have a dark side, a side that requires constant work and effort to keep in check, to make certain that it is not given more priority than the hero in all of us. The side that makes poor decisions based on fear rather than the belief that we will get what we need if we act accordingly; the side which is driven by the outside, all the world’s influences, rather than the inside, the core of our humanness, our hearts and souls. The side of us that ignores our innate intuition, even when the warning bells scream like the sirens in a big city. The hero in all of us, the piece that knows love and abuse cannot co-exist in one environment, the piece that informs every act of kindness and compassion we have ever given freely because that is what gives us the most true happiness. The piece that would die for the people we love, and sometimes for those we don’t even know, but feel true human compassion and empathy for. That piece, is the one we must nurture, nourish, and encourage to grow and empower.
 
I could not see my father, Tomaš Mrnka, as the authentic hero he was and is, until I could see the full extent of his humanity, without judgment, or the childish notions I carried about the perfection of a hero. I tell you this story because I have experience with imperfection and humanity, and because I miss my hero today.
 
Back to you dad:
 
Despite myself, my atheist and anti life after death beliefs and world view, I could not help but feel your presence, when my own off-shoot and I visited the places from which I have some of my strongest and fondest memories of you; Karlovy Vary, Boží Dar, Plzeň It was one of those trips, the journey of a lifetime with your widow, my mother Marcella (with two L’s ;) and my son, your grandson Thomas. We told him stories about you that he has likely heard a thousand times before, but it was different, for you had walked these streets that we were walking, you held my mother’s hand there, you held mine, my big brother Tom‘s. You came back to life for us in moments of memory so vivid that they caught our breath, and we all got to know you, and ourselves, a little better than we did in the days, the moments prior.
 
Rest in peace my beloved dad, and know that the lessons of your life, your imperfect self, and your true heroism, have followed me, taught me, led me, sometimes astray, but always back, to the true hero inside me. Almost 46 years ago, my life and world changed in a way that I spent too many years trying to numb, to feel, to figure out, to forget, to remember; and almost 46 years later I come full circle to face my own imperfection and humanity, yet again.
 
Thank you for the continuing lessons. You did well, and although my dark side comes out to play and wreak havoc in my heart and life periodically, I believe that my hero always triumphs in the end.
 
I miss your person every day, but I feel your presence, every second.
 
Always yours, and with all the flawed humanity I have,
~Marcela.
June 18, 2017

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Open Letter to my Child

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March 22, 2017

Dear Thomas,

This day last year I stood on your doorstep, and told you that Miller had died. Four days ago we stood with so many others and celebrated Matty’s life. They were both your age. Kids you knew, kids we both had significant connections to. And they both died the tragedy which your very existence provided me a most narrow escape from, so many years ago. I owe you Thomas. It has been a bizarre little year, and hard to believe how much changed, in only 365 days.  How much you have changed, in only 365 days. How much ‘we’ have changed.

We shared a roof again for the first time since you flew the mama-coop almost 7 years ago, and you got to experience mama’s home world in a much different capacity, as an adult. During that precious, though most difficult cohabitation (we know why, but this isn’t about mama’s romantic escapades), I was gifted with many insights into who you have become, a view that I could not have glimpsed in the course of a less closely-quartered relationship, consisting only of weekly drive-by-huggings. I treasure that unexpected and challenging time we shared.

The kind, sweet, compassionate parts I have always known were readily visible, as always, to my ever-biased eye, and came as no surprise. They have been an integral part of you since the moment you took your first breath, and broke my heart so beautifully, on this day 26 years ago. At 1:29 p.m., Central European Time, to be precise.

Sharing space again was not the challenge, rather the battle we each waged with our respective demons-of-the-moment, which then manifested in our adult-child/childish(?)parent duo. A most welcome revelation during that brief roomie-relationship last spring and summer, was witnessing you put into practice, under highly inauspicious circumstances, some of my oft repeated, and most relentless teachings:

  • Stand up for yourself and above all, for others when they cannot!
  • Question everything, use critical thinking skills to analyze everything and everyone in the world!
  • Be willing to re-think and revise your own beliefs, always!
  • Question and challenge me, and mine!!!

That last one was/is hard for you, and I am tempted to apologize but I won’t. You did, you do good with it! I don’t make it easy. I know.

To my utter chagrin, I also watched you demonstrate some of my ‘best parenting,’ in a number of your habits, confounding, even provocative and head-strong ways of being! I can but express my remorse and regret for those bits, and forge ahead to lead by a different example than the one I obviously provided you at some point in time. Neither mama-flagellation nor Sunny-bashing is the purpose of including this piece, it is important though, to me, that I live with a more balanced view of my heroes. For not even you, my most beloved, all-time favourite human on this planet, in the galaxy, the universe, are perfect. And for me to live with that skewed perspective is a set-up for you, and for me. Because it damn well hurts when our heroes fall off the lofty pedestals, upon which we situate them. That in mind, I will only raise you to an altitude we can both withstand a fall from. Because we will, fall. Splat.

Watching you this last year, the softness you had for your babi during her painful struggle, and for me, having you close, through some of the hardest times you/we have experienced to date, and holy moly Bat-boy that says something (because have you met our life?), has yet again, been my ultimate saving grace. Once more, I owe you Thomas.

Twenty-six will be fabulous BabyCakes, and I look forward to more! More surprises, more challenges, more of everything we have always known together, more crazy, and more learning, about ourselves, each other, and how to evolve and function even better, individually and as ‘the set,’ we have always been. I can only beseech my atheist Ungods that we will always be, that set. ‘Always’ being so fully and inadequately impermanent and all, but you get my point!?

No words, no language (not even profanity), suffice to describe the gift of your presence in my world, for 26 years and counting. Who says I can’t do long-term relationships?! Our relationship has evolved, and not without serious growing pains, to something it has never been before, something I am loathe to label in any way, other than to say it is more grown up. On both ends. Which means you’re right on schedule, and me, well, sorry, bit of a late bloomer in some areas of life…

High five SunnyBoyManChildBabyCakesSnookemBooBabyCzechThommyCzechBatBoy (did I get them all?), we did well! No, we did fucking awesome! Yeah, that’s better, we did Fucking Awesome!

Happiest of happy birthdays to you child!

With the Maddest of Madd Love,

Mama.

 

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She, Valkyrie

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She, Valkyrie
cradles tattered remnants
a slaughtered spirit,
in her intrepid care.
Goddess vision
greets wounded gaze
and I beseech her,
to choose life,
for an oft wounded,
heart.

To Valhalla
for mead,
and her.
Salve
for the psyche,
soul and flesh,
of gods mythical,
and mortal,
and their concubines. 

~Marcela: beautifully lost, in a real-time myth, of my own creation.
February 18, 2017
Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valkyrie

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3 Poems, for a Salty-Sailor-Suitor

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Limerick

I have crushed on a sailor named Zeke
His ‘Salty’ some havoc did wreak
On pink oh-so-tender
Defenses useless he rendered
With nary a peek or a tweak
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Haiku

On a tranquil sea
A salt and pepper Sailor
Quells this raging squall

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Cinquain

Let’s sail
said the sailor
my vessel’s safely moored
in the haven of (y)our harbour
moon’n stars

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Yours, fairly unfettered: Myla

February 12, 2017

Poetry and Photographs: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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“Stop,” she said…

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20161225_133507“Stop,” she said to herself! “Do refrain from accusing the accusers, from negating the Nellies negative, from despising the Debbies downer! And focus, on the freedom that comes with designing, with owning, your feelings, your thoughts, your life and your choices”!

“Know,” she said to herself, “that as long as you are breathing, life will bitch slap you, over and over again! Feel the fury, agonize in the pain, and then stand up to her like the fucking Warrior Woman you are.”

“Love,” she said to herself, “self above all, for it is not an act of ego, rather the only real survival skill you will ever need.”

~Marcela: Moving, at the speed of a woman Too Much!
January 02, 2017

Photograph: My personal collection. All rights reserved.

As is – III (reNewed)

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 And as the New Year tolls its bell silently in this tiny Bay
So my spirit whispers to the never-ending purga(s)tory in this 24/7 brain:
“shhh, we are whole again.”

It is not that I was in need of repair because you broke me, for I was never broken
It is that my voice was lost in the roar of the tsunami that was your disdain for me

And as a new blanket of white refreshes the grime of salt and snowplows
So renewed faith in self cleanses my heart of the detritus you left behind

It is not that I was the dung you believed to simply wipe off your sullied soles
It is the vehemence with which you shoveled your manure onto my person

And as the streetlight on the far shore casts a long glowing ripple across the lake
So another crack opens in my heart to allow the light back in

It is not that you succeeded in extinguishing it with relentless revile
It is that I erected shelter for my very core

And as I turn the plans for this, my most recent incarnation into fruitful reality
So I recognize your singular, constructive contribution to my life:

I choose not to forgive you for the myth of forgiveness as salvation is not my creed
I will, however, put you behind me with nary a thought to our dalliance, beyond these words:

I win. Not despite your efforts to destroy me, but because of them.
And I feel nothing for you.

~Marcela: Newer than this year.
January 01, 2017
Photograph: My personal collection. All Rights Reserved.

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As Is… II (More)

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 And as the lake reflects nature’s finery back onto herself
So I reflect on the solitude I have come to crave

It is not that I wish to isolate from humanity, 
or reject the risk of a new paramour,
It is that I revel in alone-ness with the passion of a new love
for my own cosmos.

And as the stillness of the quiet-season brings peace 
to my beloved Bay
So the pain of my most recent faux pas is diminished 
in its tranquility

It is not loving one who cannot love that I regret
It is that I am wistful about having snatched up 
your well-baited hook of love-lies

And as the snow-laden branches dump their white weight, 
and spring to a more contented position
So the Warrior Woman I am exhales to release you 
and I find myself here:

I stand well-grounded and know that what you did,
only served to create this:
More big, more bold, more strong, more beautiful, more wise
more too much for some, but most especially, 
much more too much, for you.

~Marcela: As is. Only more.
December 27, 2016

Photograph: My personal collection. All Rights Reserved.

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Of (S)ass and other Asses

badassI can be Bad-Ass,
quite often Kick-Ass,
with a strong leaning tendency,
toward wild noisy Jack-Ass.

Sadly, more recently
I’ve been a big Dumb-Ass
but rarely to never,
am I a C(r)ass old Tight-Ass.

At 55 plus,
I still have a great Ass,
And in the midst of life’s bitch slaps,
I remain S(assily) yours: mostly to always,
one Wise-Assed fun (L)ass… .

Grammatically incorrect and chomping at the bit for 2017,
and the next bit of Bad-Assery,
~Marcela.
December 31, 2016

Image from: Google Images

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Shine on you crazy fucking diamonds!

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I believe, fully, that no matter the outcome of the US election tonight, there will be dark dark times ahead, for all of us. When choice A and choice B both suck this badly, it does not feel as though anyone actually wins, least of all the citizenry of this planet. It matters not what bigger or smaller piece of it we call home, this impacts all of us, BIG. The only way I believe I can stay sane, not sink into a bottomless pit of despair, stay willing to live at all, in the midst of it, is to work harder than ever at being a light. As we roll full speed, and without having boarded this hell-train voluntarily, into the scariest of fucking scary tunnels eVer, I refuse, just fucking refuse, to capitulate to yet another despot, don’t care what genitalia they wear. Not even the invasion of the former Soviet Union into my homeland as I sat on my granny’s knee, felt this hideous, but I digress… I believe as fully, that it is incumbent upon all of us, more so than ever, to shake off the coal dust and become the fucking diamonds we are inside, shine with everything we all have, so that our children and grandchildren, actually have a future. The artists, the fighters, the poets, the writers, every day humans with humanity and humility, and above all, with spirits bigger than blather and all the money in the world, it’s time to take it back! One, single, bigger or smaller, thoughtful, good, kind, decision, choice, and deed, at a time. With all the Love I have,
~Marcela.