December 6th...only six more days to go to complete my challenge.
And today's is weird, but then a lot of my offerings of late have been weird. How weird? To paraphrase the little, news criers standing on corners at the beginning of the
last century hawking the latest bulletins from the newspapers of the time, may I just say...Read all about it!
An Omelet is a Terrible Thing to Waste,
When you awaken and there is a strange man at the foot of your bed, you have every right to question where your sanity went while you were sleeping. Obviously it's not still with you.
So when I saw him there, looking different, and yet somewhat familiar, I had to check out the rest of the room. No men in white coats? Had I sleep strolled into some bizarre other dimension where we were about to rehearse a play I have no memory of signing up for?
Finding my voice took a few starts. You'd be amazed how blocked your vocal chords are when you awaken to a strange man at the foot of your bed. Clearing the throat makes some of the most godawful sounds, but eventually you can string more than a few hacking words together.
"Who," I asked a bit breathlessly...not the passionate kind of breathless, more the, 'have I stepped into the Twilight Zone?' kind of breathlessness..."are you?"
"Hmmph," the crazy man said, "You don't recognize me?"
I wasn't quite sure how to answer that. I knew who he resembled, but also short of a brain meltdown, which I probably was experiencing, no way could he be who I thought he resembled. So I stammered..."Uhhhh."
"Trust your first guess," he said with an awkward grin. He didn't open his mouth to give me a big grin...and then I remembered...wooden teeth. Do ghosts have wooden teeth?
Shaking my head, I scooted back so I was now resting against my backrest, after adjusting my pillows without once taking my eyes off of him. I know, seems impossible, but I'm multi-talented, and I was so not taking my eyes off of him. "You can't be him," I denied vigorously.
"Can't I?" he asked shrugging his broad shoulders. "You more than most know the truth."
"But," I argued, "if you are who you seem to be, why me?"
"Well now, why not you? Of course it helps that you can see me," he said with a twinkle in his wise eyes. "Mind if I sit down?" he asked pointing to the folding chair, my meditating chair, propped against my far wall.
I nodded and watched the impossible to be here visitor walk to the chair, wrestle it open, plop his impressive self down and turn those powerful eyeballs back at me.
I gulped. 'Oh Lord! I've gone over the edge!' No other explanation made sense. My sanity had been comforting while I maintained it. Now that I'd flipped, I wasn't sure I liked the dark side of my brain.
"You can stop frowning," the apparition said. "I really am here, but don't worry. You're not the only one waking to find one of us waiting patiently to talk to you."
"I'm no one," I insisted. "But you..."
"Me? I'm a dead man...a long in the dirt, dead man. And I really am who you think I am."
"If you are, why would you seek me out?"
"You're smart, and you'll figure out how to present my presence and what we're going to discuss for the masses."
"Interesting word, 'huh'. Okay, let's get down to business. You do recognize me, right?"
"Well," I said with a reluctant twist to my lips, "you look like..." I so didn't want to name this apparition, or figment of my imagination, but as twisted as my mind must now be, it urged me on. "George Washington?" It came out as a high pitched squeak, but it was now out.
The man in the folding chair grinned. "I knew I hadn't been forgotten. Had a bet with Ben Franklin and John Adams...who are, by the way, visiting with others at this very moment, along with several others," he said all seriousness all of a sudden.
"That's what we're here to talk about. Everyone thinks once you move beyond the veil, you have no interest in what's going on here, but it's not true. At least not for all of us."
George's eyes met mine and held them like Krazy glue. "You want to take notes?" he asked.
Actually I wanted to go back to sleep and really wake up from the dream I obviously was snared in, but I dumbfoundedly nodded, reached inside my bed stand, pulled out the inevitable notebook and pen every writer keeps close at hand, and opened it to a blank page.
"Are you ready? I promise I'll speak slowly enough, since I know you never took shorthand."
I raised my eyes and felt them go wide with shock.
"Again, we do keep tabs, especially on those we mean to reveal ourselves to. You're smart as a whip, but no body's secretary, so why bother with learning shorthand?" he said in a deep, resonating voice.
Sitting here, propped against my bed rest, staring at the maybe ghost of the first President of the newly formed United States, was surreal. Hearing his voice, I understood why he once commanded the entire army of the Revolutionary War.
"Your history books no longer teach the truth,"he said starkly. "They teach a minuscule, white washed version, and that's why so many of us have elected to reach out and share the truth with a few that can in one medium or another, remind our descendants why we did what we did."
'Oh Boy!' I thought. I have a bad digestive system under the best of circumstances. Somehow I doubted my intestines, all the many miles of it, were going to be happy when all this was done.
"The Revolutionary War," George began, his voice bouncing off of every wall in my bedroom, "was a vicious battle. Wars are not pretty and should never be undertaken without knowing the full devastation it brings into all the lives of those who engage in them.
"Wars of late have been waged by people who have never stepped into a uniform, have no family member wearing the uniform, and don't understand from personal experience what war is. To them it is like directing a game.
"And that's just it...it's not a game. It's not a chessboard with pieces to be sacrificed to save the King. We fought our war to end the rule of the King, and it was a bloody, godawful war," he said taking a deep breath before continuing.
"The winter in Valley Forge alone came close to destroying our focus. Had I not been there, in the trenches with my men, I don't think we would have won our war.
"Many stayed in Philadelphia, it's true, but I was right there, and when I became President, I could have held onto that position for the rest of my life...but we would have replaced one king for another.
"The men that followed me into office, and those that made up the first Congresses all knew what it was like to be in the trenches. Today only one in five hundred of those making up high ranking positions have either served or have family members who've served.
"In my day, it's true, we did not include women, such as yourself, to become a part of government. That is one progressive move we all approve of. Surprised? Just as you are a product of your time, we were products of our time.
"There are other forward thinking things America has accomplished, but war is not a whim, and to not treat it with the reticence it deserves, and not make all subject to it's destructiveness is wrong.
"In my day, we valued the truth of war and appreciated what winning it meant. We fought for our land, our dignity, our right to be respected, and our future. Men and boys from all walks of life joined the cause, always knowing today might be their last day.
"Once you've spilled blood, watched your friend, spill blood, then you know what war truly is, and you'll give it the wide berth it deserves. War has become too easy because so few who make the big decisions have donned the uniform, lifted the gun and faced their own mortality and the mortality of the enemy."
The silence that followed George Washington's words hung heavily in the air between us.
"Mr. President," I finally said after gulping a time or two, "what can I do? Again, Sir, I am no one. I have no power. I haven't the ear of anyone who does have power. I am nothing more than a woman with disabilities too numerous to mention."
"No," George disagreed shaking his white powdered, and bewigged head. "Many who rose to the status of 'hero' during my time, were alleged no-bodies before their heroic act got them in the history books for all time. Betsy Ross sewed some strips together, added some stars, and created a flag, yet today she is praised because she knew how to thread a needle.
"There is no such thing as a nobody, and that is why wars should never be started without careful thought and everyone having a stake in the outcome.
"I don't know why the draft was eliminated, but in doing so, America is no longer equal. All men," he said, and then nodded his head wryly, "and women, are created equal. No one is more dispensable than another. And that's what we, the Founding Fathers want you, our descendants to remember. You cannot afford to treat one cog in the overall wheel as less important than any other cog.
"Child, somehow you must share my words with the rest of the descendants who've inherited this amazing world we fought so hard to begin.
"Abraham Lincoln did not want to declare war against his brethren, and he battled long and hard against it. Gettysburg, another town in Pennsylvania carries the moans of so many lives cut down, over what was the right thing for all of America. That war was regrettable, but necessary.
"Times changed and he recognized what some of us in my time did not...because of his wisdom, the President currently living in the White House was given the opportunities my generation denied his people.
"War is not clean and we should never jump into one without knowing what war is.
"That, My Child is my message. We need to bring back the fairness of all being subject to paying the price for the decision of war. When the draft was ended, the depth of the destruction war brings has been lost to the masses. It needs to come back."
"Mr. President, who will listen?"
"No one, if the words aren't out there, but like the pebble in the lake, it makes little impact, one would think, but the ripples that pebble releases eventually alter every inch, every fathom, every creature within that lake.
"So you have my message. I will leave you now, and let you figure out how to spread my message."
I watched what moments ago seemed to be a solid man, fade into sparkling motes of energy and then just disappear.
Looking over the notes, I felt my gut flip a time or two. I am not a militant person, but everything the President said made sense to me.