Tuesday, November 30, 2010


The solidity of the occurrence will set in later. The sense of loss is yet to come. Right now, I have memories, good memories...and that's the right place to start.

Watching the Detroit Tigers with her. Watching Superbowls with her. Watching tennis with her. Watching golf with her. Athletic most of her long life, she dug watching sports. She golfed and bowled until her body said that she couldn't anymore. Yet, even in the assisted-living home, she watched the Tigers and the Lions and the ice-skating and the tennis and the golf. Until her brain said she couldn't do that anymore.

Ah, hell, back it up a bit, okay?

When she was in her 30s, she and her love, Bill, were roller skating legends. They almost went to the World Championships, but it was during the War Years. ("The War to End alll-Warz," for those of you who are keeping score.) They didn't go overseas, but they taught kids and teens and adults how to dance on the waxed floor of Roller.


I was bummed out all day. I knew the end was coming--I'd seen her on Saturday, and she was a sweet blessed frail sleeping version of herself--but I'd thought that she'd had another week in her. I was bummed out all day. I knew the end was coming, but I wanted her to stick it out. Why?! Because I love her.


"Fee-fi-fo-dum; I smell the blood of an Englishman; Be he alive or be he dead; I'll grrrrrrrrrind his bones into my bread." And then she'd let loose with a cackle that'd shame the Wicked Witch of the West. Scared the shit out of me as a kid. Seriously. Her rendition busted me into tears a time or twice. (Okay, maybe more.) But...looking back on it...it was cool. She was a stage actor, too, did I mention? Okay, no I didn't. But she was. I don't know how far-flung her acting career was--I'm guessing not too far--but I do know this: She acted with George Peppard (he of the "A-Team") in a stage show that was something like "Chicken For Dinner." Which, for me? That's absolutely fine. Chicken, shrimp, pork, beef, tofu...whatever. I'll eat it.

But.... In her room at Wickyham. My Mom fabulously decorated it. She brought in Memories and thoughts of Past and Comfort-in-the-Now.... There was this--I don't really know what to call it--this stage revue of her and Peppy in the "Chicken Soup Fiasco" and she was there, all sepia-toned, talking with bedridden, and also sepia-toned, George Peppard. "What's for dinner?!" Um. "Well, chicken, of course!"

And the audience exploded into laughter....


But one cannot say a word about Eldora Bella (Andrews) Best without uttering, "Sweet." I have never met a sweeter woman in my life. She was so ingratiating. She was so sweet and soft. I understand that I met her when she was three-quarters through her life, but I have to say this: Leopards don't change their spots. Once sweet, always sweet. She was just a great human being to be around. Being around her raised one's spirits...every time.

I miss her. What a stupid thing to say. It's been half of a day since she exited Stage Left.

I miss her.


What a lucky thing it was that I put down my devil and visited her on Saturday. Heck, it may have been pre-ordained. I don't know...I just feel lucky.

Sure, it was tough to see her in her last days. Of course it was. But I had been such a bad grandson. I loved her (and do), sure, but couldn't I have made more of an effort to see her while she was still kicking? At least a bit? I only live 25 minutes away from where she'd spent damn-near three years. And had begged off, on a couple of celebratory occasions, opining that, while she was Here, she wasn't.

So, yes, there is guilt on my part.


Ain't there always?


I did the same with my dad. I did the same with my uncle. I did the same with my other grandma. I do the same with my dog. If you're sick: Beat it.


I sincerely hope that when it is my time? No one will come a-running. I made my own bed and I'll lie in it.

Enough about me and my character defects.


I am pissed off. I am pissed to lose Grandma. I am angry that she had to die. I am angrier, still, that she had to strangle through the morass of dying, nigh-upon three years. Does not a good blessed life ensure one of a peaceful transition into the next? I know. It was relatively quick. And for her, I leak tears of Joy. The end is one thing: What about the Epilogue? Why would an Epilogue have to be so strung-out? Finis. Finish. End. Did she suffer? No. No! She did not. But I think/know that an intrinsic part of her did suffer.

I know I would have.

It is the ceiling that kills me. It is the ceiling that she--assuredly--gazed upon, each night, before sleep, that stones me. This is it?! At the end, she wasn't looking at the ceiling; she was looking Into Herself. She was probably clowning with Bill on the beach; she could have been feeding one of her two (fantastic) children; she could have been immersed in an icy lake; she could have been hang-gliding in the Bahamas; she could have been acting with G. Peppard; she could have been scaring the shit outta little Adam; she could have been seeing a White Light; she could have been saying her I-thank-yous and God-bless-yous; she could have been reliving her life as a child; she could have been roller skating, with Bill, in damn-near-perfect symmetry; she could have been hugging her sister Marian and her brother Joe; she could have been....

She could have intrinsically known that she was much-beloved--by everyone--and that she shed the love back, a bit, to everyone, just an iota at a time.


I can't do her justice. You'd have had to have known her. Her vitality. Her spark. Her verve for life.


When I walked into the room, I was steeled for what I would see. I did. I saw. I saw a frail shrunken woman, with tubes up her nose, and her name was Grandma. I knew the situation. 92.789 years is a fine time. I walked to her bedside and my knees felt weak. I sat in the folding chair and leaned over her. I kissed her on her forehead. The skin beneath felt taut and cold. I kissed her again and lightly-rubbed her shoulder. I kissed her forehead again. "I remember," I said, "watching baseball games with you. Football games. The World Series." I sat back in the chair and just looked at her, examined my 'Buela Dodie: Turned to her left side, being oxygenated, shuddering intermittently, bone bruises on her spindly hands....


I have to interject. Let it not be said that Eldora did not receive the highest-quality care, within reason, that she was owed. When I break down what I saw the last time I saw Grandma, well, when a body is ready to go, a body is ready to go. She had ample care, there, and her daughter, Cindy--I am proud for her to be my Mom--was there every day. So, no, I believe that Grandma was not lacking for Love.

But I have to not cloak Death in a White sheen. Let it be seen, I say.


I leaned forward again and kissed her on her forehead again rubbed her shoulder again. I looked at her and leaned back over her. "Gramma," I said, as I kissed her repeatedly on the right side of her forehead, "I love love love love love love love love love love love love you."

Her mouth worked around itself a bit, and her right eye cracked open, and she said, "rrrytoo."

Was it just wishful thinking? Oh. No. She had to struggle her ass off, but she said what she thought and felt. For all of us. She returned the "I love you," and she added "too."


What a life! What a life! It is Celebration of her life. Start with horse-n-buggies and end up with bullet trains. Start when the Babe is a 19-year-old pitcher/outfielder for the Boston team and end up with a formerly-drug-addled outfielder winning the American League Most Valuable Player award. Start off with dusty roads and end up with mega!-super!-highways!


Start off with peace and Love, as she did, and end with Peace and love, as she did.


Can you ask for anything more?


I miss you already. I know I wasn't around enough during your last years; I apologize. Please, just, know this: That time that I called on the telephone, all drunk, and hyperventilated over the fact that my Mom was on an airplane, with--perhaps!--terrorists, and you calmed me down? Remember that snafu? That, to me, is the sign of Benevolence.

I miss you, kiddo. I hope--I do hope--that your transition has been free of body-scans. Fly free, please? Fly free!


I loved my grandma--Eldora--and I will always.


The solidity of the occurrence will set in later. The sense of loss is yet to come. Right now, I have memories, good memories...and that's the right place to start....


Saturday, November 20, 2010


Once upon a time, there was a ring-tailed lemur named Arthur. He was ostracized by his friends, and the community at large, and so he spent most of his time by himself, hanging upside-down, by his tail, swinging from a branch. The dizzier Art got, the better he felt. Or so he told himself.

One day....

Need I continue? I am Art. I am Lemur. Hear me chickle.

The thing about allegories, these days, is that I have no patience to see them through. Call me a monkey.

Do it!

King Kong takes a vacation, sometimes...mostly when I am on-call. When I am off-call, the Kong batters down the door, says "hello" with a backhand to the face. "Hi, Kingie," is all I can manage. "Good...um, it's good to see you again, sir."

Kong snarls and tears the door off of the fridge.

"I think there's some cheese in there," I offer from the living room.

How does a ring-tailed lemur support a giant gorilla on his back? It is mathematically-nonsensical. Yet it happens.


You think I, the lemur, am tough? You ain't seen tough yet. Look at Louie. I hope I am not jinxing him by saying this, but he is one tough S.O.B.

Every time I think I should needle him, he wakes the next day as spry as a four-year-old dog. Yes, he still has his bumps. And, yes, he still breaths like the cigar-smoking, 300-pound Cousin Alfredo. And, yes, he is all skin and bones. But the dude survives. Call it an apple from a tree.

I am pretty sure that, during the next week or two, shit'll hit the fan. Lou will have succumbed to his beast. I know that, intellectually. (I also thought the same thoughts two weeks ago.) I know, intellectually, that Lou-Bear be on his lastest leggums. I know. But I am amazed, and proud, at how strong the kid is. He don't wanna go; I certainly don't want him to go.

I am a sucker for strength. Be it physical, mental or spiritual, I am a sucker.

It warms my heart.


Strength. Now, while you may say, "Hey, lemur! Get off the sauce, you jag-off!" I would offer this: It takes a hell of a lot of strength to continue to pour toxic beverages down one's throat when one is ill as a hatter. I reckon it's kind of a toxic strength. But it is strong, nonetheless.


Lou is different. Lou is better. His is a White Strength, while mine is Paint It Black strength.


Like the Cat in the Hat, the bumps came back. I'd like to say, rhetorically, "Wha-?!" But I knew they would. Dude. Lemme tell you this--and I may be jinxing Luigi--I am fucking surprised at how the Lou-Bomb has dealt with his malady. The vet said a month about a month and a half ago.

Lou is as "sick as a dog." That's fer cheezy. But he still gets up and goes Outside. And he still ingests food and water (lots of water). He still greets me in the morning, looking at the Outside Door. He still, occasionally, stands up and puts his paws on my chest.

He is a fighter.

I feel little--and belittled, and emasculated--next to him. (And he has no balls.)

Dude sleeps all the time, now.

But I feel this: I feel that Lou's demise is to teach me one prominent thing: No throwing in the towel. It ain't over till the fat lady sings. Quitters never win and winners never quit. Sometimes Life throws curve-balls--swing accordingly.

There is a hell of a lot to learn from a dying doggie. Tons of stuff.

I think the most important importation is this: Live in the Moment.


Friday, November 05, 2010


When...is the game called? Is it when the starting pitcher has a blister on a finger of his throwing hand? Is it when the much-loathed second baseman throws a routine out into the fifth row, first-base side? Nope and nope. Is it when the manager of the team so-completely embarrasses his players that they douse him in Gatorade? Not to celebrate, but to quell?

Is that when you call the game? Naw.

Why even..?

Switch to football. When the wide receiver, who garners much press, bitches to the reporters, do you call the game? Do you ground him?

When the raindrops start falling on your head, do you call the game? When you hear thunder in the distance and sighs from the stands...do you call the game? When the sky flashes with electricity...do you call the game? (In that case, yes.)

Switch back to baseball. Don't we need to get five innings completed before a called-game can be officially recognized?

Switch back to Life.


Lou has not completed his requisite five innings of play. Sure, he's nearing seven years old, but my mathematician mind tells me that he's in the fourth--perhaps the bottom of the fourth, but the fourth, no less.

How many sighs and flutter-breaths from him do I have to listen to before I "pull the plug," "call the game"? How thin must the always-strong dog must get before I pull myself from my tears and concentrate on his.... His tears. His pain. His embarrassment. His dreams left unfulfilled.

Am I being gregarious with my assertions that, yes/maybe, dogs have aspirations all their own? Am I being stupid?

All I can say is this: Seeing a puppy born is wondrous. Adopting and living with and loving said dog is miraculous. Witnessing the end of your puppy's life--be he one or early-seven--is horrific. I don't know what to do. (Typing through tears is tough...but not as tough as the life Lou is living right fucking now, at this moment!)

When do you call the game?

[Teers dreep off me nose.]

When?! When is the lightning enough?!

God works in very mysterious ways. I may have--have--some time off, coming up, with only myself to blame. Do you think?! Do you think that maybe that worked out?! Just in time for Lou's...internment? I don't know. But I have an inkling of a thought that says that God is looking down on me, shaking His head, and throwing me a bone. Me? Hell no. God is throwing Louie a bone. As the thunder crashed.

After the lightning lit up the sky.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


I miss you. I am in a maelstrom, I am sinking. And all that. That's Life, huh?

I thought, today, my Dad died on the 4th of November, two years ago.

Today is the "anniversary."

I miss you Dad, and I love you Forever.

(Better words...later.)