Tag Archives: death

Artifacts

I sometimes forget how odd certain things in my home must look to someone seeing them for the first time. In my dining room I have a triple beam scale on a shelf next to a collection of rocks and gemstones. I have seen this scale since I was a child in various rooms and in various states of use and non-use. As a child the scale was often on the kitchen table amongst containers, bags, jars and various other items (accoutrements, paraphernalia…whatever you want to call it). Later in life the scale was displayed on a shelf above my Dad’s computer in his office, a reminder of sorts of another life, another man.

After my Dad died I brought home many of his things, things I knew he would have wanted me to have, things he would have been sad to have seen in a pile on the curb. I took his arrowhead collection, some of which we found together on our “adventures” we took when I was a child, a clumsy yet eager child, eager to hike as far as the sun would allow and eager to please her Dad by finding the most interesting rocks and the occasional arrowhead.

I took his framed paintings he had acquired from the “Spaceman of OB”; a blind artist who sold his wares on the streets of Ocean Beach. He had also purchased a “ticket” from the Spaceman which reserved him a seat on the spaceship with instructions that the ticket is only good if you have it with you at the time of your death. Needless to say, the ticket could not be found amongst my Dad’s belongings.

I took his last bottle of Gin, unfortunately not top shelf Bombay but middle of the road Beefeater. I finished the bottle, each martini tasting worse than the last even though I knew his recipe, I used his shaker and even had his glass. Martinis would just never be the same made by any other hand than his. The empty bottle now sits on a shelf holding dried flowers next to a painting of a strange red man with a long nose also holding a flower. This painting was my Dad’s favorite, painted for him by a female admirer of his in the Seventies (at least that is the story he told, he told a lot of stories). This odd image is permanently ingrained in my mind as that of curiosity and for some reason, empathy. Maybe it’s the expression on the man’s face or the gentle way he is holding the delicate white flower or maybe the way I felt as a child, laying on my Parents bed in the afternoon, staring at this psychedelic face, imagining him as a wise all-knowing man of peace and truth.

I took a large wooden box that once held his rock cleaning tools, dremel bits, baby food jars filled with tiny opals shimmering in oil, mini sword creations covered in silver solder and tightly wrapped in leather strips with tigers eye stone inlay. This box now holds letters and cards I made for him over the years, a bandana that still smells like his aftershave, a journal that I made for him which he filled with poems and pictures and the remainder of his cremains. By the remainder I mean what I have kept for myself after sharing them with possibly hundreds of people. You see, my Dad wanted to be shared with anyone who wanted a piece of him and to have them do whatever they pleased with him. When I received his cremains I filled up hundreds of tiny baggies with the coarse grey ashes (actually more sand-like with an occasional bone fragment than ash) to be handed out at the memorial service. I loved the fact that I had to go to a head shop for the appropriate sized bags. I cried and laughed as I spooned his cremains into the baggies, talking to my Dad the whole time.

His cremains have been tucked away in special places, planted in gardens, forgotten about in a purse or a coat pocket, scattered in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ireland, Hawaii, Northern California, all over San Diego; from the Cuyamaca mountains to Ocean Beach and many more places I can only imagine of one day visiting.

These artifacts are only a small reminder of the man that my Father was. I can feel his presence when I hold a rock he polished smooth or when I hear a low whistle from an unassuming stranger. He is everywhere and nowhere, within every cell and atom, he is the energy that moves me forward, the wind that sweeps through a town destroying homes and lives, the water that nourishes a forest and the breath that I will take as I share the memory of him with my Son.

Advertisements

7 Comments

Filed under I remember, Memories of Dad

Am I writing a novel or going insane?

Louise, who the fuck are you? I am sick of you and I don’t think I can be a part of this relationship anymore. I try and try to get inside your head and all you do is laugh. Or shut down, comatose, you might as well be dead. I can kill you, you know that don’t you? I might light you on fire and watch you burn, edges curling, blackening, the crinkling pages glowing red, embers fluttering into the night air. Will that wake you up? Make you pay attention for a goddamn second and follow me the way I have been following you for all these years. Following you down empty streets, never-ending hallways, cattle call cafeteria lines, endless rows of bathroom stalls and through mirrored images, inside out and multiplied.

Have you learned anything? Did you ever really open your eyes? Was it I who looked away? Did you tell me to fuck off a long time ago and I didn’t hear you?

Late last night I decided to write something different, as a distraction. I wrote a fucking sitcom, seriously. I created about 10 different characters and stupid scenarios for about 3 different episodes. So, take that Louise, I might just say, “fuck you” for real, move to Hollywood, write terrible sitcoms and campy commercials for tampons and hairspray. Yes Louise, I might give it all up for hairspray.

Leave a comment

Filed under Louise

The two quilts

Shortly after my Father died, my Mother in law asked if she could have some of his shirts for a quilt. I was busy feeling about a million different emotions and my brain was seriously fried from dealing with all the finances, the funeral plans and my giant burden of a Mother. So, I didn’t give the statement much thought, I simply led her into his closet and said, “take whatever you want.”

About a year later she presented me with a beautiful quilt made from my Father’s clothing. It was not only an amazing work of art but a touching tribute to his memory and a perfect portrayal of his spirit. It included many of the Hawaiian prints he often wore, as many large men do, as well as many of his drab work shirts and at home t-shirts. Every side of him was represented.

At first I couldn’t look at the quilt out in the open and I simply folded it up and put in the closet. It sat there quietly while I dealt with my grief. It waited there patiently while I figured out what I was going to do with all these emotions I was left with. Was I going to ignore them forever, drink them away, vomit them into the toilet, cut them out with a knife and discard of them or was I going to feel them as deeply as possible and know that as much as it hurts I can stand it and learn to live with it in a tolerable fashion.

One night as I swam in the oblivion of drunken exhaustion I stumbled into the hallway, opened the closet and pulled out the quilt. I crawled back to the couch, the quilt dragging along behind me and curled up with my bottle of wine. Contentment followed comfort and then deep dreamless sleep. I still snuggle with the quilt every night only now I cradle a cup of tea instead of a bottle of wine.

This morning I awoke to my dogs barking hysterically and the sound of a car pulling out of my driveway. On the front porch I found a huge blue and yellow gift bag, an early baby shower gift apparently from either an early rising shy family member or a kindhearted stalker. The card attached informed me that the gift was from a distant Aunt, a shy early rising Aunt.

I pulled the contents from the bag and found an adorable handmade quilt, blue and white with Hawaiian flowers. I couldn’t quite comprehend what I was looking at. There were shirts, little Hawaiian print shirts sewn into the squares. They had tiny collars and buttons, it was really quite realistically detailed.

It was just too crazy a coincidence. I now had two quilts that had been hand-made specifically for me, one was made from my late Fathers Hawaiian shirts and one was made to look like miniature Hawaiian shirts. One a tribute and one a welcoming gift. One filled with memories both good and bad and one brand new, open to the opportunities of life.

Maybe I am putting too much thought into the whole thing. Maybe my Aunt had this pattern for a while and was simply waiting to put it to use or maybe she had even begun working on it long before I was even pregnant. But I would like to think that my Dad had a little to do with this. After all, he told me to look out for things, to keep my eyes open for coincidences just like this because he would never be too far away.

2 Comments

Filed under I am Pregnant, I remember, Memories of Dad, Something that happened

He just couldn’t hold on anymore

There were signs.

I didn’t really need any, I had always known.

I was just waiting. Waiting for the phone call.

One day he was wearing a cheap gold chain, like super thick and cheap, from some sort of quarter toy machine for adults going through a later mid life crisis, baby boomer bling. Then he gave me his Bose Ipod dock, he loved it but his Ipod had just been stolen and he apparently had no intentions of replacing it. I carried it home like a dead cat with a diamond collar, I wanted it but I knew it would always stink. He came by on Christmas morning, rushed, he told me he almost left my gift on the porch when I didn’t answer the door quickly enough. He hugged me like it was the last hug he would ever give me and told me he loved me. And he was gone.

I had been waiting for this moment for years, since before I was ever born. My life up until the phone call was merely a series of events leading up to the moment that my heart would be shattered irreparably.

“Your Father, your Father…….”

“My Father what!”

“……………”

“Fucking say it!”

“Your Father committed suicide”

A scream came from me that was like no other sound I had ever heard, guttural moans emanated like fire from my throat and into the depths of a pillow I smashed my face into. I didn’t know what else to do but to continually scream “fuck” for minutes, until my throat was hoarse and I could yell no more. I was breaking, completely, my brain, my heart and my soul, it was all crumbling to pieces, a jumbled mess of undefinable pain.

As I calmed, exhausted of tears, of screams, I attempted to breathe, hiccuping gasps of still night air. And then I felt it, a tiny bit of relief, the waiting was over. I hated myself so much for that, I still do.

I understand suicide. I have come very close but no cigar. I don’t believe in suicide “attempts”, if I want attention I will dye my hair orange. My Father and I discussed suicide often, comparing methods. I always preferred a clean, private approach; a bubble bath and a bottle of pills taken slowly over a 3 hour period. He however came up with some real fucked up scenarios; a rope tied from the Coronado bridge to your neck so that when you jump and the rope tightens your head will pop off and hopefully boaters would be nearby to witness the body and head falling into the ocean separately. In his animated description of the scenario his darkness was camouflaged by humor and charisma.

Camouflaged by humor and charisma…the perfect hiding place for depression. It had been there his whole life, I saw it in his eyes. Most people were too distracted by his charms to notice. Anyone can smile for a camera, he smiled for everyone and spread that shit like a comedic plague. It was damn hard to be in a bad mood around him, his own pain so deeply embedded in him that it acted like a vacuum, sucking in any surrounding sadness or grief. All of this pain turned into a sort of fuel that kept him going, how much more can I handle?

He held on for as long as he could. Until one day he just couldn’t hold on anymore.

6 Comments

Filed under Feels like Sunday, Memories of Dad, Something that happened

inside out and spread on toast

Sometimes, I forget whose life I am living,

I get lost in the walls.

I scream inside myself, the silence much too loud,

the nothing that surrounds me much too confining.

Clothing too restricting, I strip naked, to no avail,

it must be my skin pulled tight, and I can’t get rid of that now can I?

Crawl into a hot bath, a dead cow, a crowded bus, my own swollen vagina.

Hide inside me, I heard it’s safe in there.

Open me up, spread me wide,

a donation box for your unwanted household goods.

Leave a comment

Filed under Feels like Sunday, I am Pregnant, Uncategorized

Freeway fist fight

Nightmares all night long

Doors falling off cars on the highway, hanging, suspended above the road.

Man killing woman, behind closed doors, the sound of flesh against flesh.

The impact of body against wall, crashing down around me.

I try to gather the birds but they keep changing, hummingbirds become parrots, songbirds become pigeons.

“Walk home, you know the way.”

I make my way through a crowded ghetto, men with guns in each hand and women with babies dangling from their necks like jewelry. A dice game takes over the sidewalk, nowhere to walk, “Bitch, watchu doin here?” Dark clouds hide the sun, acrid smoke burns my eyes, stifles my breath, don’t look concerned, be cool. An intersection filled with Baptist Sunday service church goers in gospel regalia, purple satin flowing in nonexistent wind.

“Green light, Bitch.”

Interpretation (inspiration)

Freeway, fighting, cars, chaos-

Yesterday I saw a car pulled over on the freeway and 3 boys were outside of the car on the shoulder, 2 of them were fighting, I mean seriously fighting. One of the boys was getting fucked up. I thought for sure the one boy as going to shove the other into traffic. Obviously we didn’t stop nor was anyone else stopping to assist so I have no idea what happened. I wonder if all 3 of them got back into the car and drove home? Maybe this was a normal afternoon for them, leave to pick up some groceries for dinner and stop on the freeway for a fist fight, makes perfect sense.

However, the fighting in my dream was going on between my parents, memories of which have scarred me for life as well as their 7-year-old lab mix that I inherited. For years everyone thought that she had epilepsy because she would have violent seizures pretty frequently. She was prescribed large doses of mood altering and brain disrupting medications to treat this disorder. After my Dad passed and she came to live with us she had a couple of seizures which I chose to treat with a little less medication and a more calm atmosphere. Gradually I weaned her off of all her meds and she hasn’t had a seizure in about 2 years. She didn’t have epilepsy she had parents that fought constantly and tore the house down around her.

Birds-

In chaos we try desperately to cling on to something familiar, even as the familiar becomes less and less so.

Ghetto-

Put on a brave face through the worst of the shit and you will eventually cross the street.

I truly feel that I have “crossed the street”, I am in a better place mentally and emotionally than I have been in years. But I will never fully escape the tortures that I have endured on the other side of the street, nor would I want to.

On a side note:

Whenever I wake up from an awful fucking nightmare, the kind that leave me breathless and shaking, I shove ice cream into my face until I am calmed. Only now I digest it, fucking weird.

Leave a comment

Filed under I dreamed...

Peaches

He wanders down the aisle of canned goods, fingers lighting on yellow cling peaches, on sale 69 cents. I remember these in the summertime, in a blue bowl with whipped cream. She made it fresh, light and creamy. His hand falls to his side, fingers searching not for a can but for something real, something alive and warm. A heavy set woman reaches in front of him, rudely grabbing a can from the shelf with a grunt that meant either “excuse me” or “get the fuck out of my way old man”. The encounter is but a flash of movement before him, it means little else. There isn’t much that grabs his attention today, certainly not the rude shoppers or baskets weaving around him in fits of impatient thrusting. He simply stares at the canned goods, unsure of how to proceed. She would know what to do, she would know what to do.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Last Night’s Dream – Revised

Failed suicide attempts, over and over. Men shot themselves in the face and woke up completely healed.

I walked for days from bus stop to bus stop, the bus never came. I fell to my knees in exhaustion, people passed me, ignoring me completely. The hot gravel road dug into the palms of my hands, I looked towards the road and knew that I had only to crawl a few feet and it would all be over.

I later met a man covered in maggots, I wanted to clean him but he loved the maggots, they were all he had.

My (blind) Mother was driving a hearse, maneuvering around a graveyard, stopping to give directions to the men who were once again making suicide attempts. She was giving them advice.

Ok, I published this dream earlier today and apparently many people found it quite disturbing. It was not my intention to cause anyone concern. I always have dreams like this, in no way does it mean that I am in any way feeling suicidal. I am actually in a really good place right now. I am excited about being a Mom and I can’t wait to meet my little man.

Maybe a little interpretation of the dream might clear things up a bit.

Failed suicide attempts – I feel like I have done a lot of damage to my body over the years, not caring about my health at all. I am so grateful that I am in good health now that I am pregnant.

Walking for days, waiting for bus – This part of the dream took place near where I used to live in a  somewhat rural area. I would literally wait for hours in the sun for a bus that sometimes never came. It was a flashback of sorts to that period of my life. I felt very removed from the world there and trapped by the seemingly constant stale heat.

The man covered in maggots – I have always had extreme empathy for homeless men, disfigured men, lonely outcast men. But I know that I really can’t help anyone, the best I can do is to give a smile and say “hello, in there-o.”

Mom driving hearse – this one I can’t get into.

Leave a comment

Filed under I dreamed...

Groundhog Day Funeral Home

I had nightmares all night long, at least it felt that way. I awoke in the middle of the night; out of breath, shivering, soaked in sweat and completely disoriented. The only thing I could manage to do was to stumble into the kitchen and devour three Fiber One 90 calorie brownies. My god I am regretting this decision now (about eight hours later). As I calmed myself with chocolatey cardboard goodness I attempted to remember just what had caused this reaction. My worst nightmares I can rarely remember but I was finally able to put some pieces together. I was at a funeral home making arrangements for my Father. It went down pretty much the same way it did in reality, the total cost was even the same. The reason this was such a horrific dream was because I usually dream about my Dad in a much different way. We hang out, talk, smoke cigarettes, just shoot the shit. It always feels so real that I wake up feeling as if I had actually spent some time with my Dad. So what the fuck was this? He was just dead and I was going through all those awful fucking motions again of notifying family and friends, paying for the cremation, planning the memorial service, even the writing of the obituary notice. This may have been the worst night of sleep/torture I have ever experienced.

Leave a comment

Filed under Feels like Sunday, I dreamed..., I remember, Memories of Dad