Monday, January 04, 2010

a guy I know...



ever hear about the guy who ran a poker room and spent his time hustling pool in the underbelly of early nineteen sixties tennessee? you know, the guy whose dad was a cop and his mother a righteous church going country lady who ran the house with an iron fist but still he managed to cut a swath of sideburned hell-raising thru the gamblers and punks he ran with? the guy who gave it up when his kid was born, put away the easy money and dangerous thrill of taking it off another man with his wits and cunning so that he could have a steady reliable means of raising his new son and caring for the young italian wife he met crashing a party at a local catholic school? ever hear about that guy?

the guy who raised three kids, kids who turned out to be a dynamite mother, a tattooed businesswoman and, much to his chagrin and pride, a degenerate gambler and hustler who also wrote a couple of poems here and there? the guy who bought said son a guitar and forever altered the course of his possible futures and also instilled in him a love of reading and books? who taught him about responsibility and its proper application, explained the reason for having two bankrolls, separately wrapped in rubber bands when at the table, to play small cards out of position sometimes, to focus risk and know when to ignore the odds? who supported said son no matter what insanity the kid threw at him?

the guy who spent more than forty years with that italian bride and loved her more than himself, the guy who worked his ass off to make sure his family would prosper, who traveled the country building railroads, carrying upon him the romantic aura of a lone black steam engine rolling and smoking thru the american countryside?

who welled up with pride holding his grandson, and then, grandsons?

ever hear about him? the guy who lived a wondrous life, a rich life, the guy who dripped wisdom and intellect and a driven curiosity about everything he encountered? who papered his walls with newspaper clippings and post it notes and memos to himself and who passed that knowledge of things both large and small, of things emotional and clinical, matters of the heart and mind and spirit and future and past and things stupid and silly and hilarious and important, passed it on to his kids, his wife, his friends and all the rest?

the guy who could perfectly shuffle a deck of cards and also loved motherfucking penguins?

ever hear about that guy? who split this mortal coil on saturday, january second?

no? well, now you have.

I'll miss you, dad. we all will.

love,

your son.

11 Comments:

Blogger j.b said...

our sincerest condolences, Chris. I hadn't heard about this guy. A little here, a bit there. But, I'm glad to have heard about him now. Sounds like a great guy, and he lived a full life.

This was a beautiful tribute to your father. And you and your sisters are proof he made some good decisions, and was a wonderful father.

Our thoughts are with you and your family, Chris.

10:59 AM  
Blogger christopher cunningham said...

thanks brother. we hang in. and drink a toast, smile a bit and contemplate the geometry of loss and mourning.

and then we get on with it.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Poet Hound said...

Our thoughts are with you also, he sounds like an amazing person and you are lucky to know him as your Dad.
Sincerely,
Paula and Jeff

7:01 PM  
Blogger Bimbi Garraux said...

My thoughts go out to you and the fam. This is a fitting tribute to a life well played.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

I'm so sorry. He does sound like an awesome guy. I wish I had known him. Thanks for sharing him with us here. Thinking of you and your family.

5:16 PM  
Blogger christopher cunningham said...

I really appreciate the kind words everyone. I've passed along your thoughts to my mom and sisters and the good vibes you're all sending. it helps.

the space created by a loss like this is impossible to fill, and will always be there. it's all about learning to live again with the damage...

he was a helluva guy and will be missed.

thanks again, y'all.

12:19 AM  
Blogger Father Luke said...

I would have liked to hear him say:
"I raise" just once.

Our best to those who loved him.

- -
Yours,
Jenifer and Father Luke

9:30 PM  
Blogger christopher cunningham said...

listen, when he said it, it was terrifying. it usually came as a disturbing surprise when you thought you knew exactly where you were at in the hand against him.

and I've never seen anyone, other than pros, read his opponents so very well, be it bidding on railroads or playing cards.

thanks for the good words. makes me smile to think of him grinning and pushing his chips over the top of mine.

10:57 PM  
Blogger drewe said...

Chris, I would have liked to have talked to you in person but I thought this might get to you faster. I am sorry to hear you lost you dad and I know how painful that is for you and your family. I could tell you were very close from even the short conversations we had about him. I am grateful to his and your generocity to me and my family when my father passed. There really aren't words for such a loss. Take care.

-Drew and Menna

11:29 PM  
Blogger Chicago Dave said...

My sincerest condolences on your loss - thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

Superb "obituary" you have written.

(giving psychic hug right now)

take care,
Dave

10:43 PM  
Blogger christopher cunningham said...

seriously, everyone, thanks much for the strong, good vibes sent my way here and everywhere.

it helps, even when nothing much does.

tonight in asheville it rains and the fog is heavy and rolling across the pasture and the wind howls and the stars are nowhere.

it is quite a beautiful thing to see.

it soothes the soul...

12:22 AM  

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