The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life

Walker Percy Might Recognize The Kardashians

October9

just so we are clear, Greg is my earthly brother. rumor has it we share the same set of parents. there are of course, other, and competing rumors – and innuendo. according to one of my God Mothers, Clare, I was a “ma-tai baby and there were witnesses”. however, it all pales compared to the vale, and in the scheme of most things. Greg was a brilliant High School student and then road Walker Percy relentlessly through University.

NOTE: some of this (that which follows; that which precedes, not at all, as far as we know) is lifted from a recent exchange with Barry Morrow (I like the manner in which he conducts his own pen) in my recent exchange with Greg (not Barry. however, that did lead to some activity like lively email exchanges and invitations to eat hamburgers).

Greg:

I’ve long been a “poser” regarding Walker Percy. When you drop the name people appear alarmed, go bug-eyed, or nod wisely as though we are, together, on to something. But, no one ever pursues (rather like thinking about sex while staring through a windshield driving your in-laws to the airport). Interpretation of his efforts seem to evolve with ones own life perspective. Oddly, perhaps, I equate that with efforts around the Bible. I’m better off listening to other people that can make lots of [better formed] apologies.

A friend of mine, Barry Morrow (he is lovely and tortured), has quoted Percy a lot, and especially from The Moviegoer, in his own first book, Heaven Observed. There are lots of existential questions that run throughout the book, like why a man can feel more at home during a tornado, rather than the typical malaise that enshrouds him when everything is provided to him, at ease in Zion. Very much like Solomon in Ecclesiastes. And, us.

In any event, when I eat a hamburger with Barry I tend to think of you. It’s good (Barry, the burgers, and you).

Much love.

– Brian

on another NOTE... The Movie Goer is much too sublime for Wikipedia and reference. however, it would make for a terrific television series. I would make my daughters watch it with me. anything is better than all things Kardashian. Go figure. No… Go forth! As you might in the Biblical sense.

milestones and memories

December23

so…

the only being I’m probably really important to is my dog, Rowdy.

reference:

Rowdy can run.

Rowdy is alive and well.

and, with my vital role in the world always vitally suspect, my wife Joanne constantly rolling her eyes at me is telling.

but, that said, the point of this post, today, is to correlate two stories (and, a personal mission):

last night, against the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions receiver, Calvin Johnson, aka “Megatron”, broke the legendary Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving record.

(sorry about the obnoxious advertisement)

he’s said some great things leading up to that. and, it’s likely the stage is set for many more a terrific bon mot, but the following quote caught me straight between the eyes, and to heart…

“It’s an accomplishment that took a lot of work,” Johnson said after the game. “You’re still in the moment – in the play that just happened, so I was still focused. I don’t think I even said anything when I gave my dad the ball. I just gave him a hug. But when I think back on it, it’s a special moment.”

as soon as I read that, my mind instantly went to the day of my college graduation from Radford University.

I probably did not belong in college at the on-set. but, my Mom and Dad leveraged an uncommon force-of-will to get me there. long story short, I’ve worked every day to have earned that. but, I can’t remember saying thanks to my Dad.

to wit…

“hey Dad. I sure to love you. and, I miss you. Haley Anne and Emma Jo have been out-right cheated by never having you in their lives, physically. but, almost every day they get a ‘Grandad story’. yeah… sometimes they roll their eyes. but, to be certain, another day they will realize the value.

two days, moments actually, often pop into my head, and typically at the seemingly most random times…

the last moment I saw you alive. we had just spent a couple of hours at your hotel while you were visiting Los Angeles on business. you had told me _____ was no good for me and to find the right girl (Dad never met Joanne, but he would adore her). I was listening. and, as I swaggered down the hall, I looked back and you were standing near the door to your room, sort of leaning against the wall with your hands shoved casually in your pockets gazing rather enigmatically at me. it was a tough read. but, I saw love, pride, sadness… a lot of stuff.

I took that moment for granted, just like I always took the too few years, months, weeks, days, hours and seconds I had with you.

then there was graduation day at Radford. Mom could not make it because she was dying of cancer at home. oddly, the import of that just struck me harder than ever before as I tap these words into existence. I know you were suffering. but, you were at Radford for me, and for the moment. a lot had gone-on the days leading up to that. I had sold a business and was sitting on some serious cash. Greg had drunk too much at a fraternity party and almost killed me, Eddie an himself driving back to my apartment. I had found Heather Hillier an hour before the ceremony, and then failed to look her in the eye and admit I had blown it by not ending-up with her instead of Dede (see below).

but, after the whooping-and-hollering and throwing of caps into the air, I found you standing off to the side by the fountain (Radford collective: you blew it by what you’ve relegated the fountain to). you had your coat looped through your arm with it being such a balmy Spring. and, of course, you had both that distant smile on your face – and, such a Gatsby air about yourself. were you a Last Gentleman a la, Walker Percy, after all?”

I do recall saying, “well… we did it”. however, I can’t recall much else. and, it was a bummer that you were distracted about Mom, and what lay ahead with Greg, the police, and all of that…

so…

Thank You.

despite my efforts to immortalize what I understood (or, not) about you on this blog over the years, and in stories to friends-and-family, I’ll probably never fully appreciate what that day meant to you, and on my behalf.

you grew up damn-dirt-poor (your words). but, your success is beyond measure. not just as a military officer. but, as a man and Dad. I know you had demons. and, they scarred us all. but, none of that could hide your efforts and the unflinching love and effort you put into your sons. Mom fought like hell to get me attention from college coaches despite my grades. but, you fought the odds and made it possible for me to be there. you never really talked about your own personal commitment to education, your advanced degrees (all long-after you were married and with kids), all that. what you cared about was Greg and me; our education. it was meaningful to you. so, graduation day was all the more special.

after you were gone, and I was able to get to Omaha, and while I was sorting through your affects, my mind a bit numb and body wracked with grief, I came upon a small box with my name neatly (nobody else ever had clean hand-writing like yours) stenciled across the top, and along one side (probably just for good measure). in that box were some momentos that you had carefully accumulated and I was unaware of… one of my running medals (why that one? …wait… I know why), a fishing hook, and a Political Science position paper I had written for Dr. Nick Pappas in my (ironically) Sophomore year with the words, “well done…” scrawled in a corner.

in my minds-eye, I see myself, with a re-wind like an old tape-to-tape reel, approaching you, giving you another hug, then stepping-back with an effort to be the man you saw, taking your hand firmly in my own (you taught me the importance of a firm hand-shake with eye-to-eye contact), and calmly state, “thank you Dad. I fully appreciate that everything you did since the day I was born was for, us. and, while you have given me an uncommon gift that will be measured more-and-more by the days yet ahead, this moment is for you. I want you to carry the memory of this day along with the notion that I could never conceive of the result without you being part of it every step leading up to, through, and beyond it”.

thanks for the ball, Dad.

today, I’m listening to Autumn Leaves, by Ed Sheeran. Haley Anne found this artist and shared him with me.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

death is morbid but Meaningful and we need to be Ready

April4

I found myself, and early Thursday morning, looking to the stars while getting ready to walk with Emma Jo to the bus stop.

Amidst the caucaphonic singing of birds I found myself contemplating the twilight, and rapidly processing a broad array of thoughts that included: Gatsby, the “Word” as a lens, Speed Racer (actually, Racer X), and why it is light posts dim when special people draw near.

I thought of Bill Pope, and how he and I would have stood there quietly together, our hands in pockets, putting lines-of-thought together that might have only, and at best, confused (possibly, admittedly, concerned) others. It’s not simple easy understanding where Walker Percy both came from, and where he was coming from.

…and, now this:

Bryan Davidson had opened my eyes Wednesday when he reminded me of something one of his own professors had said to him at Liberty Baptist College: “Death is morbid but meaningful”.

Apparently, and according to this same professor, the meaningful part is because it opens your eyes. It’s how you see it.

Death, that is – someone else’s.

I’m also pondering what death might look like when it’s racing at you, or even creeping up on you. I’ve faced my own mortality in some tough spots. But, I don’t want any of this to be about me, right now.

So… I’m in a kind of “zone” for the moment around the whole Bill Pope situation. I’m not seeking answers, nor understanding. Possibly I am sorting out direction. I do know that I, for one, won’t ever be able to say enough good things about Bill. However, wherever he is – it begins in my heart and memory, and has clearly set a standard for a baring point.

By the way…

…on the tail tale-end of that telephonic exchange with Bryan I asked him how he was feeling (he was sick with what seemed like allergies to everything, including air and all edible things, for years). He mentioned “some dude” put his hands on him at a soulybusiness event, and he was healed.

I asked him if it was John Stein, of course.

And, it was, indeed (and Jesus, apparently).

John, just so you know, is a Healer. It’s true. I don’t even find it odd. But, then, you need to understand John – and man, is that another story. My favorite is a long run in the mountains of Tennessee early morning along train tracks. But, that, another time.

Bill Powis (I call him: “Pastor Bill” – a natural teacher, by the way) is leaning into me as well. I think he likes my torment. But, he also appreciates my open-heart. Man, he would have really liked Pope.

And, if we must be judged, I’ll hope it’s by the men around me.

And, to that end…

I’ll note, and do it here, that Marcus Crocket came back from Bill and Bryce’s funeral with the comment: “I was amazed at the testimonials for Bryce. It made me understand what a great influence in his life Bill and Jane were. They were READY. They lived their lives like Jesus”.

Those are powerful words around a man with a life well-lived.

But, there is more. It’s happening all around us. …change and perspective, I think…

Another dear friend, and agonizingly patient spiritual mentor, Durwood Snead, also lost his seven day old grandaughter this week, ironically named Madison (the name of Bill’s surviving daughter). She held her Mother’s gaze for only a few short hours. In his email to me, today, Durwood said: We talked about how we did not understand why God needed Madison more than He felt we did, but that we had to trust Him because He gave His only Son for us.”

I’m not sure what’s next with all of this. So, now this is something like they. But, we can all count on there being a next what.

This I do know… We’ll need to make our stand her, and now. We must decide, each of us separately, and together, to either reel with these blows, or grow because of them.

We need to be READY.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

NOTE:  Walker Percy (May 28, 1916 – May 10, 1990) was an American Southern author whose interests included philosophy and semiotics. Percy is best known for his philosophical novels set in and around New Orleans, Louisiana, the first of which, The Moviegoer, won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1962. He devoted his literary life to the exploration of “the dislocation of man in the modern age.” His work displays a unique combination of existential questioning, Southern sensibility, and deep Catholic faith.

taken aback by Bill Pope

March29

I first met William “Bill” Pope when our daughters – my Haley Anne, and his Madison, were in the same Brownies troop.

During a Brownies Father and Daughters night event (I think it was at Alpharetta Methodist) we found ourselves askance at the stiffness of the Daddies and their daughters surrounding us. So, with reckless abandon, and certainly more than a few ‘hoops and hollers’, we proceeded to hurl ourselves down hallways, vying to see whom could out distance the other, sliding on our backsides.

Our daughters were delighted, and Bill and I each had a friend for life.

I often found myself, happily, taken aback by Bill. He was a gentleman – rather along the lines of Walker Percy (The Moviegoer, and The Last Gentleman), I think. And, I always tried to refer to him as my: “Red-headed Errol Flynn-type friend Bill”. He was dapper, soft-spoken and witty. Charming to be sure.

Bill often annoyed me, and he knew it, by “popping in” to visit with me at my offices. I would always find myself exasperated (my staff-driven calendar is both legendary and notorious for it’s lack of flexibility). But, then we would start our visit, and time would go by, and I always found myself a better man for the time well spent.

The last two times I saw Bill he came by with his eleven year old son Bryce so he could update me on their adventures together. I recall Bill standing their with his hand on Bryce’s shoulder, naught but the very picture of pride; his joy evident, and relishing every minute he could share with a friend and his son. A few weeks later Bill drove over a vintage Land Rover he thought I might like.

And, I think it will be moments when I see older cars that I’ll realize Bill’s immortalization, for me. He liked older cars that bordered on vintage. I always felt he valued the qualities of those cars as a reflection of himself. They shared qualities that included, but could never be limited to: reliability, integrity and style.

So… That’s how I’ll remember Bill, best… A man of virtu, flair and style; quick with a firm handshake; and, committed to Jane, their family, hearth, home and community.

The last communication I had from Bill was only this past Saturday night. He had sent me a text message, eager to catch up over a project we were involved with. Bill was one of the few men that could draw me out on a weekend. So, I was looking forward to calling him on the way to a soccer match with Haley Anne. I knew that afterwards I would tell Haley Anne a story; possibly about Bill and me, or at least some other friend, because that’s what Bill made me do best, in this case – be inspired by a great friend.

…but, we lost Bill and Bryce later that night. When Joanne told me numbness selfishly crawled up my legs and desperately tries to continue it’s reconciliation with my heart.

Going forward, we need to make sure we remember to reflect Bill well so that his legacy is our beacon.

This is me raising my hand.

Peace to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

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What’s All This About?

"What am I looking at?", you might wonder.

Lots of stuff.

Meanwhile, here, I discuss events, people and things in our world - and, my (hardly simplistic, albeit inarticulate) views around them.

You'll also learn things about, well, things, like people you need to know about, and information about companies you can't find anywhere else.

So, while I harangue the public in my not so gentle way, you will discover that I am fascinated by all things arcane, curious about those whom appear religious, love music, dabble in politics, loathe the media, value education, still think I am an athlete, and might offer a recipe.

All the while, striving mightily, and daily, to remain a prudent and optimistic gentleman - and, authentic.

brian cork by John Campbell





photos by John Campbell

 

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