Tag Archives: suicide

The filmmaking side of things

Here is a short clip from the documentary which I am ever so slowly creating, The Fell Clutch of Circumstance. Progress has all but stopped for now making me wonder where this is going. I appreciate every person I have come to know under these strange and unfortunate circumstances. The following are conversations with women about men who held on until they didn’t.

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How to swallow a live goldfish and other stories I tell my Son about his Grandfather

My Son is almost two years old. My Father never met him and that’s a goddamn shame. My Father loved babies and kids and they were drawn to him, his warmth and willingness (uncontrollable desire) to be goofy. Despite his constant back pain and substantial 6’4″ frame he would get down on the ground, rolling around, playing along with whatever silly reality existed in that moment.

suicide grief father daughter

A few weeks after his death I was having dinner with a few friends of his who had two small girls. After dessert the 4 year old and I went into my Father’s office to look at photos and she asked me, “are you sad because your Daddy is dead?” It was the most appropriate sentiment anyone had said to me since he had died. Most people gave uncomfortable, almost inaudible grunts of apology and whatnot accompanied by little eye contact and zero honesty. Hers was a simple question devoid of bullshit or uncomfortability and it meant so much to me. I told her, “yes, I am sad because my Daddy is dead.” She then told me, “I’m sad too because Mr. Jerry is dead. I miss him.” She was 4 years old and had summed it all up; he was dead and we missed him. She taught me a very important lesson in mourning, keep it simple. This is especially true when it comes to suicide which can make grief so much more complicated with feelings of anger, confusion, betrayal, abandonment and resentment. Small children haven’t even begun to view the world or their own emotions in these complex terms. Which is exactly why I tell my Son all about his Grandfather, I want his to be a familiar name, face and legend of sorts.

My Father’s presence will be especially missed when my Son gets a little older as his Grandfather could dad father clown prankster goofyhave taught him all sorts of awesomely icky boy tricks like blowing snot rockets, flossing ones nasal cavities with spaghetti, balancing brooms or any other random object on your nose, making lit cigarettes disappear into the palm of your hand and swallowing live goldfish. I grew up thinking it was normal to have a Dad who had a potato gun which we shot off at night just to scare the neighbors, a sport coat with sewn in magic tricks to embarrass me in front of friends, a taser which he once challenged himself to use upon his own arm (there being no one else present to accept such a challenge), a vast collection of knives, swords and other assorted weaponry both decorative and functional as well as a baby octopus in a jar of formaldehyde. Between his weirdness and my Mother’s obsession with The Rolling Stones (her collection so impressive it has won awards at county fairs, and you know that means something) it was kind of like growing up in a twisted amusement park complete with the geek, the freak and the cannibalistic vermin (my very own contribution; hamsters which ate their young).

Our home is much more tame, quite boring actually; no whoopie cushions, no animals in jars and a complete and total lack of Mick Jagger’s skinny ass. We will not be swallowing live fish or putting pasta up our noses but I will tell him all about his eccentrically endearing Grandfather and his wacky antics. Inevitably one day my Son will ask how he died and I will answer him honestly and wherever this conversation takes us I will remind him that a persons death must never define their life.

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Filed under I am a Mother, Memories of Dad

It’s been a while

I haven’t been active on this blog for over a year now and in that time I have begun a rather interesting endeavor; making a full length documentary about suicide loss The Fell Clutch of Circumstance.

As I have been blogging about this process (which is entirely new to me) I keep having the urge to write about my own issues which may not be suitable for the documentary blog…therefore I am back here writing again. I don’t know what exactly made me lose my writing momentum, perhaps it was my increasingly unstable moods mixed with lack of sleep, perhaps it was my complete and total preoccupation with the little love of my life that is my Son or perhaps I had simply grown tired of my droning wordy self spread out on the screen like a bloated cow getting a pap smear.

Whatever it was, I don’t give a fuck because my momentum is up and I have been click clicking late into the night (mania much?). I will be posting here as well as at the aforementioned blog The Fell Clutch of Circumstance.

It’s good to be back.

 

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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.

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Filed under I remember, Memories of Dad

Big Bird contemplates the End

A peculiar pairing of books I purchased at the library bookstore. The little old lady who collected my $1.80 was rather visibly disturbed.

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Filed under 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.

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

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.

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