#11 Ode to John Wayne

My dad wanted an Irish wake when he died

A real one he said

The kind where the friends and family get drunk

Tell stories and laugh

And perhaps cause a fight or two

Fisticuffs for the deceased

Something John Wayne would have done in The Quiet Man

No tears, no regrets, no false sympathies

No parades of mourners lining up for one last look

At the body

Only camaraderie, bravado, and a little bit of excess

His way of dying with dignity

But when my dad did die, after his body broke down

And the signs he ignored for so long

Came around with a balance due

We failed him

He laid in an open casket, and we all took our turns

His face immaculate, his hair coiffed

His body so carefully staged for the auction to come

“Beautifully preserved recently deceased male, who wants to open the bidding?”

And the mourners came

They came with carefully measured solemnity

They got their cheap thrill

They hugged, they cried

All in defiance of my dad’s order

He must have been pissed off

Ready, like Wayne’s character Sean Thornton

To start the fight when a fight was necessary

But not today, Dad, not today

I spoke, I can’t recall what I said exactly

But I mentioned that he loved John Wayne movies

The swagger, the no bullshit persona

Which made a few people laugh

Because they knew it was true

That’s who my dad wanted to be

The soul of an Irishman

Living in his Ecuadorian and Mexican body

He will always be that to me.

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