Posted in family, Uncategorized

Because Death Is a Comedy In My Family

It’s true.  I mean when someone dies, we get sad and cry.  But it’s not long before we start laughing.  Often right through the funeral.
Example: when my Great Aunt Angie died, there was a viewing as she was going to be cremated.  We all went and sat there, just…looking at her.  They had her on a gurney and it was at a 45 degree angle.  Now I noticed something was…off about Ang right away, but kept my mouth shut.  My cousin Michelle (Angie’s daughter) was sitting if front of my mother and myself.  Suddenly she turned around and said, “I’m sorry, but did they stuff my mom’s bra?  She wasn’t that busty!”
Example: one of the most told stories about my Uncle John involves me.  My aunt had just gone through breast cancer and had a mastectomy.  It was around the Christmas holiday, and I was in the kitchen talking about her prosthetic breast (we seriously discuss this shit in my family).  My uncle went into the garage to bring in a case of soda.  I told my aunt, that the prosthetic was really good, because I honestly couldn’t tell which was which.  She told me, “This is the fake one.  Feel it, it’s really soft.”  So there I am, squeezing her fake boob when the garage door swings open and there’s my uncle.  He said, “I know what you’re doing and I know why, but really…”

Well, my dad passed away in April.  My brother and I went to Texas where he lived to clean out his apartment, and I got sick while I was there, because of course I did.  Anyhow, we had him cremated and the remains sent here.  He wanted his ashes sprinkled up in the mountains in Mendocino where he used to go hunting long ago.  So my brother rented a minivan, since there were six of us: myself, my mother (they remained friends and would talk on the phone now and then after the divorce – before he moved to Texas, they even went out to breakfast a few times), my brother (who did all the driving, and there was a lot of it), and my three nephews (the youngest was almost 18, so they aren’t little kids or anything).

So we drove for five hours and put his ashes in two different spots.  But dad had the last laugh.
At the first place we all got out, and my brother got the box that the ashes were in.  Now I came prepared, I had brought those little paper masks like what doctors use (like in the third picture, below).  I was the only one who put one on.  I had enough for everybody, but nobody else wanted  one.  I was the only smart one.
My brother started to pour out the ashes (picture 1), and the wind picked up.  Me and one of my nephews ran around to the other side of the car.  My brother got a face full of…well…dad.  We heard him kind of holler, “AAHHHH!”  When we got back in the car he asked my mom for some water, and rinsed out his mouth.  And since I am a younger sister, I helped out by saying, “I told you so.”
The other spot was fine (picture 2), no dad blow-back (although I still wore my face mask).  I also managed to avoid getting carsick on the winding, bumpy roads (thank you, chewable Dramamine).  And we stopped at Fenton’s on the way home, so that was pretty nice.
And I will have you know that when dad’s ashes were delivered, I put them directly in out apartment storage unit.  It creeped me out.  We had to carry them on the train to get to my brother’s house (we had them in a tote bag), and when the boys picked us up, I said loudly, “Open the trunk for grandpa!”

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Posted in family

Things Have Been Busy….

I had promised myself I’d do better on updating, and then life punched me in the face.  A few years back, Sean Patrick Flanery (shineuntiltomorrow.com) wrote a blog post titled “Sometimes you just need a minute”.  It was about the death of his beloved dog, Donut.  Anyone who has ever lost a pet knows that pain.  But I didn’t lose a pet.

I lost my dad.

Before you send your condolences, I need to come clean.  I had no relationship with my father.  At all.  I hadn’t spoken to him in something like 10 years, of not longer.  He didn’t beat me or molest me or anything horrible like that.  He just never seemed to care much about me growing up.  My dad was a sports guy, baseball mainly, he played in the minor leagues until he tore up his knee.  I was not into sports, I was an academic child.  Did well in school, sang in the school choir, was even in a few school plays in elementary and junior high school.
He never came to even one performance.
He and my mother divorced when I was in college.  He eventually moved away to Denton, Texas, where we had lived when I was 20.

He had never taken care of his health, and I spent most of my life telling him he needed to or it would bite him in the ass, and it did.  He had open heart surgery several years ago, and a pacemaker installed.  He was an alcoholic that continued to drink, however, and his diet was horrible.
He was in and out of the hospital more times than I can even remember over the last few years, and in and out of ICU.  He started using a walker and a wheelchair.  His hygiene (never a strong suit with him to begin with) just totally went out the window.  He once questioned my mom (they still talked) about why my brother or I didn’t move down there and take care of him.
That right there is very telling.  He didn’t want to do things for himself, he wanted someone else to do it.

His doctors commended his decision to buy a treadmill.  My mom and he talked about it, and he said, “Even if I can only walk for a few minutes at first, maybe I can slowly walk a little more each day.”
When my brother and I went to go through his things after he passed, the treadmill was covered in dust, and had an end table on it.  He had bought a mini-fridge from a neighbor that he could keep right next to his recliner for the specific reason of keeping beer in it – so he wouldn’t have to walk 10 feet to the kitchen to get it.

He had flatlined previous times in ICU and been brought back.  This time when he went in for blood in his stool, he was refusing some treatment.  He flatlined and they gave him CPR.  They called my brother and he spoke to the pulmonologist who recommended that if dad’s heart stopped again, to let it go. He had a 73 year old heart that was bad and only had one working valve that was working incorrectly and backing up blood into his lungs. He was on a ventilator and unconscious, so the decision was on us, but he had been refusing treatment lately, so we thought maybe he was ready to go. We were supporting the decision to let him go if it happened.
A few hours later, the phone rang.  It was brother letting me know that dad was gone.  It was about 1:30 a.m. California time, 3:30 a.m. Texas time.

I was very conflicted about all of it.  I think he was ready to go, just tired of hospitals and being sick and going through all of that.  On the other hand, I was mad that he “gave up”.
My brother and I ended up going to Texas for 5 days and taking care of stuff.  His apartment was a roach infested mess.
The worst part is that most of my dad’s stuff ended up in the trash.  A neighbor lady took all of the meat he had in the freezer, so I was glad that didn’t go to waste, as well as some canned goods. She also took his recliner and a small shelf unit. An old friend of his came by and took the TV (a nice one, wish I’d been able to get it home), DVD/CD player and all his DVD’s, and came back the next day to take his treadmill (again, wish I could have kept it), and helped take some of his other things to Goodwill (usable clothes, walker, wheelchair).
I got sick because of course I did, so after that first day, I was useless, and could only lay in bed at the hotel exhausted.  My brother had to take care of the rest of the stuff.  I felt bad, but I was so sick.  It was not a good trip.

They did his cremation this past Sunday, and on Tuesday, his ashes arrived.  I put them in our storage, because having them in the house creeps me out.  We are going to scatter them up in mountains near where he used to go hunting, but we have to wait for the snow to melt.  In the end, I also had to sell my diamond earrings to a friend just to afford to put an obituary in the paper for him.  Didn’t those used to be free?

There is something very upsetting about the fact that most of my father’s belongings went in the trash, most of his paperwork just went through the shredder, and his body is reduced to ashes.
Your life just goes in the trash.

So…yeah.

Sometimes you just need a minute.scattering-ashes

 

Posted in family, repost

Jiffy Pop Story (courtesy of the mom unit)

(First seen on my FB, 9/2/10)

We got to talking about popcorn today, and got on the subject of Jiffy Pop.  When I was a kid, Jiffy pop was a treat.  Not because I like popcorn, but because it was a show unto itself (if you haven’t made Jiffy Pop, you haven’t lived).  The mom unit told me that once as a teen, she and her sister had a contest to see who could get their Jiffy Pop to pop the fastest. 

They were side by side at the stove, and my mom’s was popping up all big and shiny, while my aunt was having issues.  So in a fit of sibling rivalry and frustration, my aunt took her pan of Jiffy Pop and pounded my mom’s down with it.  I’m sorry but that is one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard.  Kind of like BLAM! BLAM!  “Who’s winning now?”

My family has several weird stories like this about my laid back super cool aunt – things I can’t even really picture that they swear she did…like stomping on a bully’s face in her cowboy boots.

 

I sometimes really love my family.