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Love is the answer and you know that for sure

johnlennon_1974_gruen_webuseonlyThis is my tribute to two war protesters who greatly influenced me: John Lennon and my father. I wrote this piece after an experience I had when I bought one of John Lennon’s pieces of artwork. 

John Lennon (Oct. 9, 1940 – Dec. 8, 1980)
Hollis Perry (March 27, 1932 – April 26, 1999)

My father fought in a war and John Lennon protested a war. And after my father fought in a war, he protested them, too, and healed himself by growing tomatoes, carrots, and onions and giving them to neighbors. John wrote songs and drew pictures to order his thoughts about the chaos of life.  The artist and musician had as much influence on me as the man who was the warrior and the gardener. And in my youth, the warrior gardener took his “Working Class Hero” dollars and bought many of the vinyl albums for the daughter who loved the musician who sang about “Give Peace a Chance.”

I wasn’t prepared for my reaction at the visual reminders of a nation’s youth and later its sorrow when John was killed.  Then, I saw the piece and the tears in my eyes convinced me it should be mine.

The sales woman inquired about my interest and, of course, it came down to a business transaction. Because really that’s what the world is that we live in even though “all you need is love.” I was prepared to pay and asked about options other than the 12-months-same-as-cash advertised in the store. So the petite woman with the beaming smile said she would inquire on my behalf.

She returned and said “yes, it was okay to pay for ½ today and to pay the other ½ when I picked up the piece” on Tuesday.

Until the owner of the Vegas art road show overheard and in front of all of the people in the gallery shouted “NOOOO!” at the saleswoman. And me, the woman with a visceral and automatic reaction to bullies, immediately walked up to the small circle in the middle of the gallery and interjected “you are very rude.” And the 6’2”, 230-pound man said quietly and calmly to me that he was speaking to the petite brunette. And I stood a little taller and said to him that he was speaking to me through her because his answer was about my question and that he was exceedingly rude. And he apologized in a calm manner to me and I redirected him and suggested he apologize to the woman at whom he shouted. He explained his rationale as to why my proposal was not workable. And his reason for his no was not offensive yet his communication of it to the sales lady was which I reiterated for him. And then he replied, “It’s not necessary for me to apologize to her, she works for me.”

And he suddenly walked off and the third person in the small circle inquired if I wanted to pay by credit card. And I told her that I would express my response to her in the same way the gentleman expressed his answer to my question and that was “NOOOO!”

real loveBut I wandered to the front of the store where my tears first began to fall and considered the circumstances of the day I had planned to distract myself from the loss of my father and mother in the springtime. And the petite brunette came up to me and gave me a book of John’s that he had co-written with his son, Sean, as a way to make up for the scene. I apologized to her that she was the subject of such bad behavior and the woman and I hugged.  And after all was said, I decided to buy the piece because “love is the answer and you know that for sure.

 

Copyright: Brenda Henning, 2018

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Happy Veteran’s Day to those who serve

My father, a Korean War veteran, was raised Presbyterian but he had a lot of Zen in him. He used to say things like: “if you pull a flower out of the ground, the moon shakes.”
hollis eugene perry
Hollis E. Perry served three tours as a paratrooper in the Korean War.

He served three tours in Korea. He quit high school to join the U.S. Army. The Army trained him as a paratrooper and he had a tattoo on his arm representing it. On his left hand he had the word “LOVE” tattooed, one letter on each of his fingers. He was proud military with a hint of hippie.

Ironically, after his military service he refused to ride in an airplane and he didn’t like to leave home very much. He also never owned a gun except for the last few years of his life. He bought a rifle when a drug addled neighbor across the street threatened him. But he hated having a tool used for killing in his home. But he was a realist and understood the horror of behavior that other human beings are willing to commit.
He belonged to the American Legion and served in the U.S. Army Reserves for many years, including at Fort Des Moines, when it was used for that purpose. He worked as a recruiter for the Reserves. He recruited many people because he had such passion and respect for the discipline the military taught him. Even though he didn’t recruit me to the military (much to his chagrin), he did pass along personal discipline to me and that I learned how to solve problems through him. In addition to his Presbyterian upbringing, he was raised on a farm, so he knew how to fix things. There were many an Iowa winter day he would have the hood raised on our cars working and swearing to start them in frigid conditions. Although he was Army he swore like a sailor.
He also taught me a lot about politics saying “follow the money” and that will tell you what people’s motivations are. He listened to Rush Limbaugh but he supported Democratic politicians.He owed a debt of gratitude to former Iowa Gov. and Sen. Harold Hughes who advocated for my dad to have his discharge from the army be ruled honorable. My dad had several situations in the Army involving alcohol and Gov. Hughes was a big proponent for people with this illness. War is not pretty so I have an understanding why many military people turn to alcohol to cope.
My father successfully overcame his struggle with alcohol and he gave up other habits that helped him cope with life’s stress, including his Pall Malls. He didn’t wear a patch, chew gum, or learn hypnotherapy. He decided to quit and so he did. He found the best therapy after that through gardening. He loved being in his garden and sharing his produce with neighbors.
The most important thing he taught me, though, was this: “it’s better to have nothing then a little bit of something.” It took me a long time for me to understand that koan. But  I understand now. It’s better to be on your own then to surround yourself with people who are only there during fair weather.
RIP. Sgt. Hollis Eugene Perry
flanders field
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