Thursday Memories – Me and Nance

 

 

This is my friend Nance and me. The photo was taken in the late ’80s. Nance is one of the few people I’ve kept in touch with since high school. Still do, too.

 

Nance has been on my mind a lot lately, as her mom passed away earlier this month. Mrs. L. was ill for some time, and I know that was hard on her and her family. She was a swell lady. Both Nance’s parents were alright. I know losing loved ones is part of life, and something we will all experience. But that knowledge does nothing to make it any easier.

 

On a completely different note, check out my leisure wear shown above. Honestly – I don’t know what to tell ya.

Chairman of the Boards

 

 

Mr. Moses Malone passed away this weekend, and that news reminded me of a one-time interaction with the man (posted previously here).

 

If you’re 8 and you’re told someone is 60, you wonder how they’ve managed to stave off death for so long. To an 8-year-old, 60 is ancient! But when you’re my age (ahem), 60 is so very young. And you see just how much life is left to live at that point. So Mr. Malone’s sudden passing at that still-young age is sad.

 

For me, I smile when I think of him, because the one time I met him was funny. Here’s hoping he’s laughing somewhere, and by whatever method he gets to where he’s going, I hope there’s a lovely, steady black flight attendant tending his needs.

Sweet, Sweet Girkin

 

 

Last week I got some bad news. My friend’s dog, Girkin, passed away.

 

Girkin was one of my favorite dogs – period. He was one of those rare animals who belongs to no one. Instead, a whole lot of us humans belonged to him. Fortunately for me, I was one of those souls.

 

The Gurr was friendly and laid back. He was small in stature, but man was he the Top Dog! I remember a time when I was sitting on my friend’s front porch, waiting for her to come home. Girkin had found me there and was sitting, watching me. After a few minutes some large, strange dog came running up toward me, barking and growling. Without hesitation, Girkin jumped up in my lap and turned to face the scary dog. The Gurr barked so fiercely and assertively, the strange dog actually ran away. Girkin had protected me. I sat there a while longer. I remember I was dealing with something sad that day. Do you know that Girkin sat on my lap with his paw resting on my heart the entire time? It was one of the sweetest, most caring gestures I’ve ever known. And it was given to me by a dog.

 

My friend told me on the day of Girkin’s passing, she walked by a window and saw The Gurr lying on an outdoor sofa, asleep in the sun. She checked on him and realized he was gone. She said he looked content there in his usual spot. That he seemed to be at peace. I like the idea of that. And I like the idea of Girkin being young, happy and healthy. I hope he finds his human souls, wherever he may be. I know that here on earth, his people are nursing broken hearts over his passing. I certainly am.

Here’s a Quarter…

 

 

Yesterday I had coffee with a friend and we were chatting about certain individuals who seem committed to a life of douche-baggery. We spoke of our feelings and how we deal with these people, and at one point I said something or other about my belief that there are souls who will never choose differently. That some people will always be assholes, and that the only impetus for change in those folks will be death.

 

Later on I was going over that morning conversation and I wondered to myself if I ever wish death upon anyone. I thought long and hard about this. I know I’ve wished for friends (and former friends) to opt for their betterment. For example, when a former friend’s husband was pushing her around – physically – I desperately wanted her to love herself enough to decide she deserved better. I know I’ve wished for friends (and former friends) to pull focus and stop drowning in drama, and instead see how friggin’ privileged they are. Sometimes a person lifts herself up and sees life anew. Sometimes not. Hell, I’ve even wished for political assholes to see past the ends of their crooked noses. Do you think that often happens?

 

If I thought my input had any worth whatsoever, I’d get a $10 roll of coins and walk around, saying to the idiots of the world, “Here’s a quarter. Buy yourself a clue.” But my input has no value. My opinions are as worthless as the next schmo’s. How does the old saying go? Opinions are like assholes. Everybody’s got one and everyone thinks everybody else’s stinks.

 

So after thinking about all this, I realized I don’t wish death upon anyone. And I’m glad. I don’t want to be that person. For my sake. But I will say this: I can guaran-damn-tee I won’t mourn the deaths of a few folks in this world. Not enough quarters in the universe to help those buggers.

Nanu Nanu

 

 

For those of us who grew up watching “Mork & Mindy”… For those of us who actually owned rainbow-striped suspenders… For those of us who went to see Disney’s “Aladdin”, even though we weren’t kids (nor did we have any)… For those of us who were profoundly affected by “Dead Poets Society” and “Good Will Hunting”… For those of us who just like to freakin’ laugh…

 

I’m not gonna lie, y’all. I was in my car when I learned of Robin Williams’ death and I cried. He was only 63. Kids may think that’s old, but those of us with actual living under our belts know it’s young.

 

I understand depression and I understand demons. I will never ever judge anyone for battling either of those ills. But it still breaks my heart when we lose someone to that struggle. And to lose someone I’ve relied on for laughter and entertainment, for so very long – well, I am stunned.

 

But it occurs to me that if Robin Williams had never decided to give comedy a try, I wouldn’t miss him. I would never have known there was someone to miss. But he did go for it. And how! So I’m incredibly grateful that wonderfully wacky guy landed in my living room and challenged The Fonz on “Happy Days.” I’m grateful he and Pam Dawber made me want to go to Boulder, Colorado and see that cute town through their work on “Mork & Mindy.” And after all these years and a jillion roles, I’m grateful Robin Williams stuck around as long as he did and gave the world so much of his soul.

 

He will be missed.

Body and Soul

 

 

Yesterday’s post told of my neighbor’s passing. I mentioned how, as a Southerner, my go-to response to a death in the family is to cook for the family. And my go-to food is a baked ham.

 

I want to share a little something I’ve learned to do in cases such as this. When I take food to the bereaved, I make sure to present the edibles on some sort of dish the family can keep. The way I figure it, the last thing they need to worry about is which plate belongs to whom and how to get it back to the owner. So I make a trip to a thrift store and find some sort of inexpensive yet keepable item, purchase it and give it away. I make sure the family knows they can keep the dish and that it’s theirs to use or pass on. One less detail for them to deal with.

 

Mister pointed out to me that my neighbors probably won’t be hungry at all. I know he’s right. But if they do need nourishment, at least they won’t have to cook. And if people stop by (and people surely will), our neighbors won’t have to bother preparing something for their friends. It’s little things like that, things that feed our bodies and souls, that make all the difference in life.

 

Heaven knows, the little things matter. Especially in the face of the big things. And losing a loved one is about the biggest thing I can think of.

Stop All The Clocks

 

 

The first time I heard W. H. Auden’s poem “Stop All The Clocks, Cut Off The Telephone” was in the film 4 Weddings and a Funeral. It was beautiful. It was perfect. It was heartbreaking.

 

I think of this now because Mister and I just learned of our next door neighbor’s passing. Her aged husband came over to tell us and I swear, I thought he and Mister were gonna lose it. I couldn’t have blamed either of them if they had.

 

I’m not clear on the numbers, but I think those folks had been married over 60 years. I know they moved into the house next door about that long ago. Pat – that was her name – told me those things and a few others when Mister and I first moved into the new pad. Pat and I had some lovely visits, during which I learned quite a bit about her. She was very religious, and quite political. Without saying much, I managed to make it clear to her that we weren’t on the same page on those fronts, but Pat didn’t seem to judge me for it. I liked that about her. I liked that she was intelligent. I liked that she kept busy, organizing community events and lectures. I liked that she always looked put-together.

 

Mister’s never been to a funeral. I’ve experienced more than a few, but I probably won’t attend this one. I will be making some food, however, to drop off at the house the day of the service. I’m a Southerner. It’s what we do. At times like this, it’s one of the only things we can do.

 

Personally, I just re-read Auden’s poem. It is still beautiful. It is still perfect. It is still heartbreaking.

Speaking of Dying…

 

 

I’ve been reading Laurie Kilmartin’s tweets about her father’s death. (If you’re interested, here’s the link. You have to go back to about February 20th.) As a cave-dweller, I don’t follow anyone on Twitter. But my comic friend – who is also Kilmartin’s friend – told me about it and I finally got around to checking it out. I’ve heard Kilmartin has gained about 50,000 followers over the course of sharing this process, so I guess a lot of folks checked it out.

 

I’ve seen Laurie Kilmartin perform stand-up a few times, but I don’t know her. She writes for Conan O’Brien and she’s funny. That’s the most I could tell you. When my comic friend told me about Kilmartin’s recent tweets, I was mildly interested. When I read a big story about her and how some folks were not amused by her live-tweeting her father’s final days, I knew it was time to check out her feed.

 

Why don’t we talk about death? It affects each and every one of us, like it or not. It’s a natural part of the world and it’s occurring every second of every day. So why don’t we talk about it? What are we afraid of – that if we speak aloud of death, some scythe-wielding, hooded creature will appear behind us, ready to provide a one-way ticket to the other side?

 

I don’t know when we’re gonna go, friends, but I do know we’re all gonna go. We can’t jinx ourselves by merely discussing death. That only happens if we cross against the lights or mix water and electricity (or commit some other idiotic move). Our job is to do the best we can, be as safe as we can, and live while we can. That’s it.

 

Talking about the end of life is perfectly fine. And I’m pretty sure it helps. It can’t prevent the pain of loss, nor can it bypass the grieving process. But talking sure can alleviate the mystery darkness brought on by death. If only a little. I know that when I’ve lost someone, sharing the hurt has been an important part of getting through it. I’ve still had to get through it, mind you, and some losses just don’t happen then disappear, either. Some are felt for always. But it still helps to talk. I firmly believe this.

 

So I read through all the Laurie Kilmartin tweets. She’s funny, to be sure. But she’s also deeply possessed of heart and soul. The tweets made me chuckle, and they made me close my eyes, too. Kilmartin – like the rest of us – is doing the best she can in the face of a hard situation. Sharing her loss has clearly been part of her coping mechanism.

 

I appreciate her honesty. I appreciate her humor. And though I never knew him, I now appreciate her dad as well. Anyone with 5 dogs named “Pepsi” is alright with me.

The Circle of Life

 

 

Yesterday Mister and I awoke to find a dead hummingbird outside the kitchen door. The feeders are located nearby and we don’t know if he mistakenly flew into the glass or what. (Mister thought I should title this post “The Circle of Crack,” as those danged hummingbirds can’t seem to get enough of the syrup we make and place in the feeders.)

 

The little guy was just lying there. He was still beautiful, even in his death. (And though this specimen is all browns and is probably a female, I’ll keep referring to it as a male.)

 

I love hummingbirds. I love anything that fertilizes my plants and helps my food grow. I see dead honey bees all the time, and that’s heartbreaking, too. Seeing this little guy is just as sad for me.

 

Right or wrong, I placed the little guy in the yard. He’s part of the circle of life. And that’s okay. It really is.

Standing on the Corner, Suitcase in My Hand…

 

 

Yesterday morning, after posting about the passing of Hal Needham, I had no idea I would be facing news of the loss of Mr. Lou Reed.

 

I was on my way to a Rock Camp brunch. Baker Jen was driving and one of the riders in our car had just read the news. As she climbed into her seat she told us, “Lou Reed died today. He was only 71.” We were going to a goodbye party for one of our brilliant volunteers, as she’s moving to Austin, Texas. The weight of saying goodbye to one of our own was already heavy enough. The news of Lou Reed’s death was an unexpected stun.

 

Many of us talked about Reed’s passing and more than once we spoke of how happy we were that he’d had love in his life over the last few years. (Reed was married to musician and performing artist Laurie Anderson.) Again and again, we said how young he was. Over and over, we expressed our sadness at the loss.

 

Speaking for myself, I am still trying to process my feelings. I won’t lie and claim to know every song or every detail of Lou Reed’s or Velvet Underground’s career. What I do know, what I can sing to myself in my sadness, is enough to fill my heart. And for that, I’m grateful.

 

While at brunch, I spoke to my dear Rock Camp buddy, Chaska. During this past summer’s session, she loaned the movie 20 Feet From Stardom to me and we shared heartfelt discussions about it. As we talked yesterday, I told her how I’d been thinking about the part of the movie when one of the back-up singers tells how Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” features the line “…and the colored girls go…” The back-up singer said how empowering that line was, as it truly expressed the strength and truth of just how important back-up singers’ contributions were. I was fighting back tears, and Chaska held on to my hand. I didn’t have to cry. Chaska knew and understood what I was saying. She, too, was terribly moved by that movie. I daresay she, too, has been moved by Reed’s music.

 

I understand that as I progress along life’s timeline I am going to face more and more loss. Someday, that last proverbial breath will be my own. But the intellectual acceptance of this does absolutely nothing to blunt the shock of these losses. And while I know that I will eventually process the death of Lou Reed, today I have not. I am still stunned. I am still sad. I am still hearing the opening lines to “Sweet Jane.” And I am picturing Mr. Reed standing on the corner, suitcase in his hand…