Archive for January, 2010

She Was A Grand Lady (Part Five)

January 29, 2010

And now here we are.

There’s so much more I could say . . . legions of tales.  I haven’t even MENTIONED the wondrous place her house was, filled with treasures that she and my Uncle had gathered throughout two lifetime’s worth of a love of fine things and even finer bargains.  They restored and sold most of what came to their attention, but even what they kept was enough to fill the house to overflowing.  I always felt what remained should be donated to a museum (particularly her plate from Martha Washington’s wedding set), but that decision wasn’t mine to make, and I’ve no doubt various blood relatives of theirs will pick the house over like a yard sale, and I can only hope at least one of them understands how precious those things are. 

For myself, I have a few mementos here and there . . . a beer stein they made when they were going through their crafting phase, a pair of my Uncle’s boots that I’ll never wear but asked to keep when I found them because they fit well enough for me to at least consider filling his shoes someday, a straight razor my Aunt told me could have slit a hobo’s throat at some point, and a large ceramic lion that I made the mistake of admiring to her once, and found it coming home with me (I kept my mouth shut after that.).

So much I could go on about.  I still haven’t mentioned the dogs other than Tuffy, or her skill at playing the pump organ and her habit of playing Reveille on it if she thought you were sleeping too late.

But I won’t . . . because I need to return my heart to my work, and to do that, I need to stop keeping my heart here.  That’s what my Aunt would be telling me now, at least, and I never made it a habit not to listen to her, so I’m hardly going to start now.

Goodbye Aunt Marian.  You truly were a grand lady, and if there’s no such thing as life after death, then there damn well should be.

Because I want to see you again someday.

This candle is for you.

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She Was A Grand Lady (Part Four)

January 28, 2010

And that would be a fine place to end the story . . . but REAL stories (fictional or otherwise), don’t always give you that luxury.

Whether it was because of my Uncle’s death or not, I really don’t know, but none the less she became smaller after he died, both physically (which didn’t distress me) and in a far more intangible sense.  Mentally she remained sharp, and we could still discuss just about any topic you’d care to mention (and many that you likely wouldn’t), but . . . something . . . was missing.  All too quickly the conversation would just peter out, and we’d be struggling to find something to say next (as the one time we tried talking on the phone taught us both, I think). 

I can’t now any more quantify WHAT was missing from her than I could the first time I noticed it back then . . . A brash joy of living, perhaps? . . . I just knew, then as now, that whatever it was, it was something that I had learned from her, cherished in her, and suddenly it was gone.

And I missed it.

She Was A Grand Lady (Part Three)

January 27, 2010

But I’ll get over it.  I loved her too much to do anything else. 

When I was a child she fed me Ding Dongs on her new couch, amazed me with the gusto that she did everything with, patiently explained to me time and time again how a dog could bite you AND still love you (Ah, Tuffy, you were a great dog, and you really were always sorry after you bit me.  It wasn’t either of our faults really that you were a sound sleeper and had fur that was far too easy to step on.), and she picked out the puppy that was my first and only dog. 

She cared for my Uncle for as long as she could after his stroke, seeing to the needs he could no longer see to himself (which were many), and covering for him in conversation so seamlessly that at first I couldn’t believe there was anything different about him, he seemed so MUCH like his old self.  She never knew that at one point, even though I was out of the room, I heard him ask “Who is the boy again?” which is NOT a question you want to hear from a man whose known you almost since birth.  She just told him, and I returned to the room and the conversation as if nothing had changed

That night, after he’d gone to sleep, we stayed up far too late talking because, even though we were all exhausted, I could tell that more than anything, she just needed to talk about nothing in particular with another adult for a while, and, with a shock, I realized that somewhere along the way I had BECOME that adult.

She Was A Grand Lady (Part Two)

January 26, 2010

Having spent the bulk of yesterday moping around (ugly, but true) as I continually lost the battle between what I WANTED to say versus what I felt NEEDED to be said, I’m starting this post early to see if I can do better today.

Maybe I should start with some other other ugly but true things:

Late on Friday I got the news that my (honorary) Aunt had died.

Even though we lived far apart, I’m not surprised to find that I miss her.  What IS a little surprising to me (but only a little) is the depths of my anger that came along with the news . . . anger because in some ways I’ve been missing her for years. 

You see, among the MANY lessons she taught me, directly and indirectly, one of them was to come to detest the phrase “doing well for their age,” because SHE was only partially “there” in those last years.  Now don’t get me wrong, she was certainly “there” enough to be over 90 and retain her independence and have just about everyone nod their heads about how “well” she was doing, and all that; and I’m not dismissing how rare and special it is in this day and age to be able to die independent in one’s own home and on one’s own terms . . .

But damn all that to Hel, I remember when she was THERE . . . alive and vital, and age never touching her at all.  I even have a pretty good idea when that stopped (the day my Uncle died, I suspect), and I KNOW you can do a lot worse than she did.  I KNOW the margin for improvement is a hell of a lot smaller than the margin for “it could have been worse.” 

But I don’t care about that. . . not now.

Not ever.

I can deal with her passing out of my life.   

I’m having a harder time with her passing out of hers before she died.

She Was A Grand Lady (Part One)

January 25, 2010

And if you’re thinking that’s not the sort of introduction you use for those among the living, you’d be right.

It’s been a few days since I heard the news, and when I started this, I thought I knew what I was going to say.

But it turns out I was wrong.

I’ll . . . talk to you tomorrow.

We Probably Should Have Dated

January 22, 2010

So last night I was reminiscing with someone, and the name of someone I hadn’t thought of in years was mentioned, someone who used to be able to irritate me just by being in the same room with me (a favor it seems I returned, by the way), though I was never sure WHY she irritated me so much.

I was promptly informed that while she had mellowed somewhat, she was largely unchanged, particularly her “sanctimonious” nature.

That’s when I remembered.

She WAS sanctimonious, and that always mixed poorly with my arrogance (which has likewise mellowed somewhat, by the way), but at least I could take comfort that we didn’t instinctively dislike each other because we were EXACTLY the same.  However, when I expressed this sentiment, it was met with . . . shall we say “polite skepticism?” 

But I stand by my statement.

To be sanctimonious is to believe that one is inherently better and more correct than those around them.  To be arrogant it to believe that ANYONE could be just as good as you are . . .

It’s just that they’re not.

Huh

January 21, 2010

Turns out I got an answer after all.

And while that exchange is, of course, private, I figure I CAN share a stylized representation of some of my internal monologue:  

Huh . . . got a message, but surely it’s not . . . 

Yep . . . it is.

Well . . . I’m the one that opened the door, so let’s see how much this hurts.

Ouch . . . well . . . I walked into that one.  I can hardly blame her for agreeing with me that I don’t know when to leave well enough alone; I’m the one that said it first, after all.  I wonder if I should point out that if SHE wanted to leave well enough alone she shouldn’t have answered me.

Nope . . . she said it first.  Okay . . . this is starting to look like it might not have been a terrible idea after all . . .

And it wasn’t.   Mind you, it COULD have been.

But it wasn’t.

 

Back In The Saddle . . . Again

January 20, 2010

Just to get my teeth back into a writing project, today I drafted out a short story idea I had last week.  It’s half writing exercise (you have to be a lot more concise in short stories, and any flaws in your style can sometimes be thrown into sharper light because of the tighter focus) and half . . .

Well . . . I’m honestly not sure what the other half is going to be yet, because I hope my goal for it being “a good story” is a given and is understood as NOT being included in my half and half calculations.  There’s not a huge market for short fiction these days, so I’m kicking around the idea of offering short stories through a website in some way, shape or form.  The idea, like the story I drafted today, isn’t a complete idea yet.

I’ll let you know when it is, but I want you to know that I’m open to suggestions, so long as they don’t tend to involve things anatomically impossible or uncomfortable.

Just Because It’s “Normal” . . .

January 19, 2010

Doesn’t mean it’s what I WANT!  

(Starting to get fidgety over the completely normal and understandable delays life’s been pitching my way the past week or so.  Time to start working on some “tide me over” projects while things are out of my hands on the book . . . I’m thinking a short story, for a start.)

THANK YOU!

January 18, 2010

This candle is for Richard Moran, a cameraman covering the recent disaster in Haiti, who did what I wish more cameramen would do; namely, HE PUT THE DAMN CAMERA DOWN TO HELP SOMEONE!

Thank you, Richard.  Good job.