His Name Was Wes

His Name Was Wes, and He Wore a Hat.

Actually, his name was Wesley L. Kallberg, and he was my dad. I never called him Wes, but everyone else did. I think of him this early October of 2015, because it was on this day in 1986, that my mom called me to let me know that he had died.

Joanie and I were living together at the time, and the call came about 11:00 that morning. Her voice was calm, and she told me he had pulled over on Highway 2, just outside of Lakota, and suffered a massive coronary.

The last time I saw him was just a couple of weeks prior, in the apartment Joanie and I shared, when he stopped by to drop off some bread from one of his customers. It was good bread, and he knew we liked it.

Dad was the last of a breed, a traveling salesman. From about the mid to late-40s to the day he died, he was on the road. He would leave the house on Monday morning, and usually get back home on Thursday night. That left mom with the unenviable task of seeing to the care and welfare of five children, a task she handled as if she was born to it, and she was.

Those were the days, before computers, when salesmen called on customers, whether they were selling clothes, like dad did, or any other products that ended up on the shelves of small stores in the small towns across the state.

The salesmen, in those days, formed friendships based on their life on the road. They always knew where the smokers were going to be, and would often adjust their schedules so they would all be together so they could enjoy an evening in Langdon, Mountain, Lakota, or anywhere else they knew there was going to be an evening of gambling, and socializing. Sometimes he came home a winner and other times he never mentioned anything about an evening like that.

He was a suit, hat and tie guy, at a time when one never went to work without a suit, tie, or hat. To the end of his days, it was always the same. He wore a hat, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. I could never do that, but he did it so well, I still smile when I think of him and his hat.

This photo of him, wearing his hat, holding his grandaughter, Vicki Jo, is one of my favorites. 382804_2453167700040_1811673027_n

There is much more I could tell you about the man called “Wes,” but that will have to wait for another time. I will leave you on this day in October, 2015, with this poem I wrote about him.

Words Unsaid

He died alone.
On a highway, in his car.
He pulled over,
And his heart gave out.
That’s all there was.
The news,
Slammed into my mother’s soul
Like a hammer on crystal.
She never got to say goodbye,
Or, that she loved him,
Neither did we, his children.
Children who learned about
Unconditional love from him,
And the woman who,
Never got to say goodbye,
Or, that she loved him,

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Another Anniversary

img287_edited-1_2This is one of those days one never forgets. Each September 30th, I am reminded about what I had and what I lost. Time does dull the senses to some degree, but the memories remain crystal clear. That is why every year at this time, I am compelled to write something. This year, I looked back at what I wrote last year, and decided I could not improve on it, at least in my own mind, and so I reprint it hear this year. I beg your indulgence, and thank you.

September 30, 1989

The temperature got to 95 degrees that afternoon, and the place we had the reception was probably as hot or hotter. It didn’t matter. It didn’t matter to me, nor did it matter to Joanie. This was her day, and there was nothing going to spoil it for her, and nothing did.

26 years have passed since that Saturday afternoon in Bismarck. Yesterday doesn’t seem as close as that day does.

Joanie had told me during one of our long Saturday lunches at the Ground Round that spring, “I’m not going to get married when I’m 40.” She was 39 at the time. We decided that day it would be done later that year. She had made her point. We had been engaged long enough, and had been living together for a few years, and she was going to make a move one way or another. She put the hammer down, and even though it was a velvet hammer, I got the message. We decided on the 30th of September.

It turned out to be a glorious day. She was absolutely radiant, something I guess you could say about any other bride on such a day, but she definitely was, despite the late afternoon heat. There she was, at 39 surrounded by family and friends, basking in the moment, a moment she had waited for too long, her cheeks were red, her smile was permanent and I had never seen her happier.

When I look at the photos from that day, I see in her eyes and her smile the hope and promise she held for what her life would become. It was the same hope and promise that I would see during more difficult times in later years.

We mark the important moments in our lives by dates on a calendar. This date is one such date for me. Joanie and I embarked that day on a journey into the unknown. Most marriages begin that way, or so I think. Ours was no exception.

The years we spent together until that night in 2008 were years I can never forget. As I sit here on the 30th of September 2015, I think back on what it all meant.

The passage of time has made it clear that day marked the beginning of a journey with a woman I loved, admired and respected for her humanity, her strength in the face of adversity, and her courage.

It is a journey I never regretted.

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Labor Day 2014

Bob Kallberg:

It’s Labor Day again, and it always has a peculiar affect on me. I read this post, which I had sent out last year, and couldn’t find a way to improve on the thoughts and emotions that would accompany Joanie and my annual Labor Day trip to the cities. I still miss them.

Originally posted on The Chocolates of My Mind:

Labor Day Weekend 2014

I wrote this last year on the Labor Day weekend, and tonight, on the eve of this weekend that signals the end of summer, I sit here and reflect on what those weekends meant to me. Melancholy has a way of creeping into my brain on the eve of this weekend. On this night, chances are Joanie and I would have been on the road headed for Minneapolis and St. Paul with a stop in St. Cloud at Joe and Joni’s. I read this again, and really couldn’t think of much I would change about it, so I post it again as a reflection on happier times.

Both Joanie and my youngest sister, Joni are both gone now, and I think that adds to the bittersweet remembrance that comes to me every year about this time.

A Reflection.

It was our weekend for years.

On a…

View original 650 more words

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A Motel Bar

A Motel Bar

This poem was published in the Summer edition of The Lincoln Underground, a literary magazine out of Lincoln, NE. They have have used some of my words and pictures during the past year, and this is the latest. Some of you may have seen this before, but now it has gone out to a larger audience.

A Motel Bar

It was Friday night.
Cocktail hour, and they came in.
Two people no one knew.

Him, in jeans, light jacket, hoodie and baseball cap.
Her, in jeans, light jacket and shoulder length light brown hair.
They took chairs at the bar and ordered.

She wore no makeup. Plain, but attractive. Older
He was bearded, like so many men today.
They liked each other. Anyone could tell.

Looking at each other, they spoke to none but the bartender.
Drinks came. They talked to each other, long lost friends.
She had come from far away, and he wasn’t from here either.

They sipped their whiskey cokes in low ball glasses.
Stroked each other’s hands, smiled, and laughed a lot.
Her phone would come out, but only for a moment.

Overheard, “It was my son,” she told him.
He smiled and put his arm on her shoulder.
She looked down and held his hand, a hand that knew wrenches.

I imagined they spent the weekend as lovers do,
When time is short, and they have each other 
If only for the moment.

On Tuesday, they came in again.
They took chairs, this time close by. The bar was more crowded.
The bartender knew what they would order and their drinks appeared.

Her back was to me, but I could tell, this was their last night.
She looked at her phone once, and after she laid it down,
She hugged him, and they both took sips from their low ball glasses.

I sat there just stealing a glance, not wanting to intrude.
They were lovers, and I was an invisible guy in a bar,
Knowing I would never see either of them again.

When she told him her flight number for the next day.
She leaned in close to him, and the hand that knew wrenches,
Slowly stroked her back, and she leaned into his shoulder.

Feeling like an intruder, I paid my tab and left.
Walking to my car, I thought about these two people I didn’t know,
Who came into the motel bar I frequent, and what tomorrow would bring.

Once home, alone, wine in hand, I wondered why it mattered to me,
Then I realized it was because I was envious,
Of what they had, if only for a moment,
In a motel bar.

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Where The Popsicles Are

I wrote this a long time ago, or so it seems. I ran across it the other night while wandering through my mind, and sipping on a glass of Cabernet. I remembered why I liked it then, and like it now.

When We Danced

We danced,
And the music was you.

The rhythms
Moved through your heart,
And I could feel it in your hands.

When it was slow,
I could feel it in your body when we moved as one,
As in a dream with no end.

The dance floor is deserted now.
The dream is shattered,
And the band plays no more.

But, when we danced,
There was the love and the magic,

And the music that was you.

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