Archive for October, 2019

My “Joe” — By Several Other Names

Posted in Uncategorized on October 10, 2019 by michaelcogdill

A children’s book about death feels a bit like a birthday party in the proctologist’s office.

But I wrote such a thing. I didn’t need to dig it out of my heart. It just rose up.

Where Did Joe Go is far less about death and way more about immortality. Joe the horse dies, sure. There, I said it. Everything and everyone will someday.

But that’s far from the point.

By “The End” Joe lives in the hearts of all who loved him. Death is no match for love. When we’re remembered and loved, we never go fully away. In spacious hearts that make room for us, we live, always.

And that means every one of us has a “Joe.” More than one. These are some of mine. There are many more.

My father, George Cogdill, who so loved my mother and me, so loved a good hemorrhoid joke, and who was so kind.

Daddy, you are my Joe. In my heart you live, on a riding lawn mower, with your dentures flung out, just for grins. Your steel hand to my back. Your velvet wisdom still my peace.

My grandmother, Dovie Ella Keyes, who so loved us all, who would laugh at — and with — my daddy, and who could take up an ax and hold her own with any man at a wood pile.

Granny, you are my Joe. In my soul you thrive, hoeing your postage stamp of a strawberry patch, and giggling beside the ocean when it knocked me down and rolled me the first time. I was four, strangling. I can laugh about it now. Your gentle womanhood keeps re-creating me as a man.

Savannah and Maggie, you are Joes, the pair of you, golden retrievers. I need say nothing of why you set off love. You were goldens, on the best of days, and the worst, there you were, happy, devoutly making me so. You both died unafraid of dying. You taught me how to live — full to overflow in the present moment. You still teach me the present is precious, and our great promise.

Where Did Joe Go? Where all our beloveds go. Into the rooms and onto the lawns of hearts where love is a living heirloom. No mere thing, passed down. Instead, a pulsing memory, a laugh, so much of life strung together and aglow. Party lights in the dusk of our best days, gone by, yet here.

They are always here, our Joes. And all of us always children, somehow.
A favorite picture book, written within us.
Our beloveds. Our story. Ever alive.

Where Did Joe Go, an heirloom-quality children’s book written by 29-time Emmy winner, Michael Cogdill. Illustrated by legendary modern artist — and former child prodigy — George Pocheptsov. Debut — a matter of the heart — spring, 2021.

A Man of a Kind

Posted in Uncategorized on October 5, 2019 by michaelcogdill

My father bent the rules of manhood, upward, from the dark. In the dark.

A little boy ought not be a stranger to enough to eat. Food and affection were rare to his boyhood.

And this made him grateful.

A man ought not get branded by the hot tongues of men with empty hearts. His coworkers made fun of his special shoes. The shoes did little to ease the hurt of his surgery-damaged feet. Full grown bullies hurt, to the quick, the little boy in him.

And this taught him to forgive.

Daddy became a drunk for reasons he would never fully say. I’m glad he took some those to his grave. More so that he took a gracious, humble and loving sobriety into that casket, too.

For this made him understand that a man’s hurts might help him recognize another man hurting.

Even in silence, I believe he said to many a wounded stranger, “Hey, me, too. It’s no eternity, that hurt. Don’t feed it, and it’ll die.”

My father was an art of a kind. Chiaroscuro is the fancy, impossible term for contrast of light and dark in a painting. Nah, that word’s not for him. Not such a real man in his real life. For my dad, the word is grace. Daring grace. The hammer and hot crowbar kind. The leverage that bends a man upward.

He was the scrolled iron work of a poor boy scalded by awful shame, tempered in the fire of his own courage not to wallow in shame. It takes a strong hand to work iron. My daddy surrendered to his inner Hand. It shaped the man, most honorable and true.

It bent him into his beauty.

Daddy loved to work. He loved my mother. He loved me.

He taught me my dark days held only the setting for light.

That man of a kind, all too rare, sleeps in his mountain grave tonight. But no. He’ll live tomorrow in me, in my every step. A prince of the Depression echoing in my every breath — “You belong. Look around. You thankful? Get off your haunches and out the door.”

“Be a man. You know the kind.”