Sailor, Storyteller, Vintner, Veteran

January 14, 2017 § 1 Comment

 

NOTE: This is the eulogy I delivered for my father’s funeral, hence the references to slideshows and sanctuaries and such. I’m posting this for those of you who knew Dad and couldn’t make it to the memorial, and also just to plant this in the Internet’s eternal memory.

To capture my dad’s 90 years of life in a few hundred words is to cram Everest into a walnut shell. It’s an exercise in futility to try to tell you everything Dad was and everything he meant to us.

So I’ll give you a sampling, with the hope that you know he was so much more than this thin tribute can contain. « Read the rest of this entry »

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Tsunami

January 5, 2017 § 1 Comment

I woke to falling snow, an immediate indicator of how the day would shape out; in Asia, white is the color of mourning.

The plague I have is on its way out the door, but I’m still coughing, sneezing, congested at times. Still worried about getting my dad, my mom, my family sick. So I went to work, distracted myself with little tasks I needed to catch up on, office gossip, the friends I work with.

Greg updated me around 10:00 that Dad was unresponsive—sleeping, not waking for anyone. My heart fell through the floor.

The snow tapered, but never stopped. At one point, fat white flakes fell, seeming to mark off the moments. I watched them, wondering as each one hit the ground if that was the moment my father died.

At 3:00, I left for the day and met Tracy at home. She drove us over worsening, whitening roads to the hospice. I stopped inside the door to blow my nose hard, cough out what I could into tissues, and mask up. I couldn’t get the mask on with everything in my hands, so I threw it all at a chair in the waiting room—used tissues, clean tissues, earmuffs. Frustrated. Scared.

As we approached Dad’s room, Greg stepped out. Visibly shaken. Steve followed, eyes red and brimming.

My dad had just passed away, minutes before we got to his side.

I went into the room, placed my hand on his shoulder. Mom sat across from me, sobbing. I moved around the bed and hugged her. Began crying myself, then couldn’t stop. My eyes burned with acidic tears. Later, I’d find milky spatter on the lenses of my glasses.

I stopped crying. Started again. Stopped. A nurse came, listened to his chest, then called the charge nurse. She came a few minutes later, also listened, and pronounced it. The official time of death was 4:12; in reality, it was several minutes prior.

The world didn’t halt; it carried on, stepping over the pieces of our hearts on the floor. Indifferent. We drew together, an island of familial grief, then broke apart to drift our separate ways.

Outside, the snow continued to cast its funeral shroud across the landscape.

 


My dad, Christmas 2016. 

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Quaking

January 2, 2017 § 1 Comment

Greetings from Plagueville. Happy *cough* New Year.

It’s impossible to tell what kind of year 2017 is going to be, although given the way the election went, it’s not looking good.

2016 was a year of upheaval. The ground beneath me shifted and shook and crumbled, at times. Some quakes revealed gold beneath the cracked earth; others, sinkholes of unknown depths.

I’m still feeling the aftershocks of the previous year, and haven’t felt steady enough to take a measure of the next 12 months.

Starting  the year in an urgent care clinic hasn’t exactly filled me with optimism. The nasty upper respiratory infection that’s been going around lately struck me down in the dying light of the year. I swear, half my friends are sick with it or something similar; one is so ill, he bruised his ribs from coughing so violently.

It is the worst time for me to get sick. I’ve not shared an update on my dad recently, but he’s dying. That’s the long and the short of it. He couldn’t handle chemo—which, ironically, shrank the tumors—and the subsequent radiation treatments hit him even worse. He’s declining rapidly, and being cared for at home by hospice and my family. But he survived 2016, when so many did not. That’s not nothing.

Being ill means I can’t go visit him nor help out in caring for him. I’m a dull blade or a broken crowbar rusting in the corner; useless. My only role is to host the plague and try not to spread it to others.

For weeks, I cried every time I talked about or thought about my dad. Last week, I stopped crying and haven’t since. I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Something may have broken.

There are other aftershocks from 2016. I’ll be losing good friends at work due to layoffs. My own duties will be changing. I’ll be moving my desk to the second floor, which may seem insignificant to anyone who isn’t a writer; we have rituals, and most of mine are based on location. It’ll take time to adjust to the tenor and frequency of the new space.

The company climate as a whole is changing; it was bought out by another firm, and we’re rapidly being switched over to new tools and processes. New names and faces to learn. So far, it’s been positive (except for the layoffs, of course); I hope that continues.

All ripples in the landscape; waves that started months ago and are spending their last kinetic energy on 2017’s new shore. But the tsunami is my dad.

I wish I could be completely optimistic for the new year. It’s off to a rough start, though, so I suspect it’ll be a monstrous bastard of a year.

Prove me wrong, 2017. Please, prove me wrong.


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