The Colonel’s Plan – Losing it

November 15, 2017

Dear Daddy—

I suppose it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect to undertake a task as big as this one and never lose my temper; never come to the point where I think maybe I should just walk away; never feel despair.

Of course it’s not reasonable. I’m a human being, and I have feelings. More, I’m a strong human being, and you always told me strong people have strong feelings. Over the course of the past week, those strong feelings have gotten the best of me. I won’t go into detail. What upset me is my problem, not yours, and I have to solve it. And it involves others who don’t deserve to have half of the story told in public (since I’m sharing these letters publicly) without the chance to tell their side of it.

It’s enough to say that things started to get to me, and I came to the point of asking myself, “Do I really care that much about this project? About this house? Am I really willing to commit the rest of my life to maintaining a house that I could not afford to buy on my own?” Because, let’s be honest, I never could. I consider myself professionally successful, but my household income would buy maybe a third of this house you left behind. There are those who would say that it’s a white elephant, and that I’m throwing good money after bad trying to hang onto it. To say nothing of the fact that Mother may need the money that’s tied up in it, someday, so it’s still anybody’s guess whether it can stay in the family at all.

Am I setting myself up for failure? God knows I’ve done it before. I thought I was going to be a comic book writer, and that didn’t happen. I thought the convention I started would be a huge financial success, and it wasn’t. I started a publishing company, and that has never taken off. Yes, I got paid to write comics, and yes, my convention is still in business, albeit run by others, 25 years later. And yes, I still have a publishing company and a dozen authors have written for me. But mostly I’m still a middle-class, middle-aged guy working a run-of-the-mill job.

I’m 52 years old. My arms hurt when I lift things. I get muscle cramps. Should I have taking on the stress and strain of finishing a huge house that’s too big, really, for an empty-nester to live in anyway? It certainly became too much for you.

All that was going through my head tonight, when I came to work on some window sills and facings, and I went to the blue bathroom to measure its window. I looked at the still-unfinished tile outside the shower, and I thought how you had bought it back in 1969. How you’d bought all the woodwork and the fixtures. I thought how sad it was that they sat here, all those years, while you were in the house. I thought about the point when you know, despite your occasional proclamations that you were going to get back to work, that you were really going to die with all that huge investment sitting there, unused, your house unfinished.

Do I really want to do this?

I have to do this. I can’t do anything else. I can’t do that to you. I can’t let all your work come to nothing. Maybe I’m just acting out my own insecurities, but, dammit, I feel so much of what I’ve done has come to nothing. And I don’t know if that’s because I didn’t try hard enough, or if someone who could have helped me didn’t help me, and let my work come to nothing. I just don’t know.

But I know I can keep yourwork from coming to nothing. At least, I think I can. And, if I fail, well, I went down fighting.

Love,

—Steven

 

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