Missed Comic, Cats and Coats.

I wanted to go see Sandra Bernhardt tonight, but I am trying to force myself to get everything ready for traveling back to Indiana.   I have these mounds of clothing to go through.  The new washer has been installed and in use for a week, but this has not been a normal week by any standards,  and I have not caught up with laundry.

I have to pack and remember all the electronic items and cords, but I cannot seem to focus.

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IBGK is 11 years old, scruffy to the core of every bit of her 6 and 1/2 lbs, and she has the heart of an alley cat. She is a house cat. The owls and coyotes would have her in an instant.

 

Itty Bitty Gray Kitty keeps trying to insert herself into my makeup case because I closed my suitcase after she spotted pristine black pants… synthetic with lots of static electricity.   Only her head can fit in the case. Very frustrating.

Coats.  I have to find coats.  I am leaving for a place where it is winter.  My coats are like 20 years old.  One long black wool. One bumblebee yellow ski jacket.

Packing for a funeral is the antithesis of fun.  I wish I could take a pet with me to cuddle.   Hubby offered to go with me.  But I did not see any real benefit from him coming with me.  Am I too pragmatic?  Nah.  Unfortunately I’ve just been through this too many times.

Going on auto-pilot keeps me from  thinking too much.  I’m just going to get through this next few days.  I hope.

Some Thoughts on Death and Mourning

My brother passed away last weekend.  Roger left us forever at five minutes after midnight on Sunday November 9th, 2014.  I was on my way to the All Soul’s Procession, a wonderful contemporary community sharing of celebration of people’s lives and supportive public sharing of grief when I got the news via text on Sunday night.

Needless to say perhaps, I am thinking a lot about death, death rituals, death culture, and my personal views of death.

Death is the most personal experience there is.  Birth is shared, but death meets us alone.

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Reaching toward nothingness.

NDE

I should say that I have not been all that concerned about what will happen to me after death since December of 1977.  I was in college, my best friend from High School, Kim Marie Sanders, was in a horrific car crash on November 6th, 1977, seven days after her 21st birthday. Her brain stem was crushed.   A few weeks later I was at home, a solid but worn, two story house,  a rental on Greenbush Avenue in Lafayette, Indiana where I lived in Junior year of college when I had what I have to describe as a classic NDE experience.

As I walked into a bedroom I passed out, I guess.  But it was different, quite distinct, from when I usually blacked out which I had some experience with as I had very low blood pressure back then.  Normally, when I would pass out I would just have my vision narrow in as in the iris of a camera, as a circle, graying out.

But this time I did not see that, I saw a tunnel of light.  As I began to travel in the tunnel or beam of light I felt as though my energy or essence was draining from my body through the back base of my skull.  Then there was bright golden white light.  At the end of the tunnel I knew there was just LOVE, complete accepting love.  I did not see individuals although I felt like there was someone there.  I did not consciously get to the end of the tunnel but I remember thinking, “Wow, this was death and it was not bad at all.”

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I think I woke up about an hour later.  I knew my friend had changed, but I wasn’t in touch with her family until a few weeks later.  It was then that I found out that she had come out of the coma she had been in since the wreck on the same afternoon I had the encounter with the light.  She was in the coma until mid-December, Friday December 16th I think.  She died on Friday, January 13th, 1978.

I had a very difficult time with her death.  I grieved for years.  But I was not afraid.  I have never been able to reconcile this disparity except that I can accept my own death, but not that of another person.

I think it is that I am selfish.  I just do not want to be alone without my friends and family.

Something Amiss

I’ve always thought something was amiss with what people told me about death and how they really felt about it.  I was three years and two months old when my mother came in to me in the morning, crying and obviously very upset.  She said, “Grandma died during the night.”  My analytical self was already present within me apparently as I distinctly remember being confused that I had been told that when you die, you will be with Jesus.  From everything I had been told as a toddler, this Jesus guy was a really good guy and Heaven, with Jesus, was a good place.  So what was up?  Grandma was with Jesus.  That was a good thing.  Why was Mom crying?  Incongruity.  Someone was not telling the truth.

Selfish Loss

I think what I experience as grief, and thus mourning rituals, is an incredibly selfish indulgence.  How does our grief add up to anything but our experience of loss.  It really has very little to do with the person who died.  It is all about the pain we the living experience.  Everything we do, for the dead, is really for ourselves.  I think I learned this from my dad.  I think I  have finally figured out that Dad viewed cemeteries as parks where you talk about the past, teach kinship, consider the impacts of life and living in various ways.  This from a man who said that when he died we should just, “toss him over the fence to the hogs.”  Historical markers were okay but the obsession with body preservation was over the top in his view.

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Shift in Perspective

These are some of the things I’m thinking about today.  I couldn’t wait any longer to grieve.  I had to take today off to just feel, think, ponder, and cry.  Normally I would tell stories of the person recently deceased with others who loved or knew him, but I’m 2000 miles away and the only one left in my generation of close family.   My eldest brother Jim is 75 and has memory problems.  So I’m having my own private remembrance.

Perhaps I am just being selfish, but I have a lot of information I need to share.  I’ve decided that information exchange is the most important ritual.  If I have information that might help someone with a question or concern or just to create an understanding, I need to get it out there.  I have several years until I am 60, but much information would be lost if I died before I got it into the cultural information collective.  These are the things that matter to me.  Distilling lives into stories.  I have much work to do.

 

 

Official Old Fart Entertainment

Last evening, even though my mind was elsewhere, I decided to still attend dinner theater for which we had purchased  tickets.  A friend, a political cartoonist, produces theater on the side.  IMG_5456

The most off off off broadway you can get is Great American Playhouse in Saddlebrook in Oro Valley.  It is THE Old Farts Capital of the over 70 crowd of jet-scoutering travelers.

So why were we there?  Hush your face.

The Old Pueblo Radio Theater steals mercilessly from the Good Old Days as originally recreated by radio face himself, Garrison Keillor.

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The Arroyo Cafe Players were delightful.

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The Reveille Men’s Chorus proved to have charming good humor as they crooned perfect parody of classic western music as the Grandsons of the Pioneers.

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The Wisconsin Snow Bird couple, Rosa, Carlos, Lourilei and even Father Kino  are characters you will remember… even if you don’t want to…

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And the sound effects were classic and techno:  everything from coconut shells to iphones, the musicians — piano and vocalist were really really good.

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And lucky you!  You can see these folks playing around the Tucson area in the next month or so.   Do it!

 

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Veteran’s Day

I was 10 and 11 years old when my brother was wounded in Vietnam during the TET Offensive.

Tet Offensive battles.  Public Domain image.

Tet Offensive battles. Public Domain image. Wikipedia.

 

The first time he was wounded, shot, I was 10.  The second time he was wounded I was 11.  I remember the Marine Corps car pulling in to the drive twice.

It should have been a mortal wound, but somehow when the mortar round exploded behind him on August 4, 1968

He was shot in the leg in Hue, patched up and sent back.  The history books will tell you that the battle of Khe Sanh ended late June 1968.  Roger, my brother told us that he caught shrapnel under his flack jacket as he lifted a body/buddy into a medevac chopper on August 4, 1968.

It should have been a mortal wound, but somehow when the mortar round exploded behind him on August 4, 1968, he must have been scooped up immediately by personnel on the chopper.  They managed to keep him alive until he could be patched up enough in a a field hospital to be shipped to Japan for a few weeks of surgeries and then transferred  back to Great Lakes Naval Academy.  It was at least 6 months before he was able to come home for a few days.

This is what I think of  first on Veteran’s day.

I also think of my cousin Rick who was wounded in Vietnam; he has a metal plate replacing part of his skull.

Uncle Carl, my mom’s brother,  was wounded while based in England in WWII.  He lost hearing in one ear.

Uncle Fred, my mother’s mother’s brother, was in Europe in WWI and was disabled the rest of his life.

My father’s great grandfather, John M. Hill, enlisted in the Union Army twice.  He survived Gettysburg, but caught a mini ball in his hand at another battle.

My family seems to have a penchant for being wounded.  Although my brother Max served and was not injured.  My husband is a veteran, and was not injured.

One of my favorite peace buttons.  Pro solcier pro peace

One of my favorite peace buttons. Pro soldier pro peace

I wore my pro-soldier, pro-peace button today.  I kept thinking about my womanly, sisterly duty to —

Say firmly:
“We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

– from A Mothers Day Proclamation  of 1870 by Julia Ward Howe

Veteran’s Day will now always be associated with my brother’s passing.  May you Rest in Peace, you gave everything.

Abandoned

Maybe I am feeling this way.  Maybe I am feeling that most people who counted in his life abandoned my brother.

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In any case, I was flipping through pics on a free image site I use and found this one that I contributed to the site.  I came up under a keyword search for the word Abandoned.