Category Archives: grief

This is a story about Osvaldo who I will miss

Can I tell you about my best day of 1998? I’d like to tell you about my best day of 1998.
I think it was a Tuesday because I’m pretty sure all my Creative Writing classes at Wayne State were on either Tuesdays or Thursdays.  And I’m reasonably sure that my Intro to Creative Writing class was on a Tuesday.  That doesn’t really matter. I’m just organising my thoughts.
Exactly one week before my best day I had a bad day. I turned in my first short story for my Intro to Creative Writing class and, man, I was an absolute mess about. I was sure my new professor, who had quite clearly told us  that sugar coating was for donuts not writers, was going to hate it.
It was a pretty slight but funny story called Becoming Robert about a girl named Alice who feared she was turning into her exboyfriend after a messy breakup. I didn’t want him to hate it. I was desperate to impress him. On the first day of class he’d told me in his thick Argentine accent that he was already writing a movie about me in his head. I had a lot to live up to.
He saved my story till last and I was losing my mind all through class. I think I participated in the other critiques, I know I chewed my pen the whole way through. I remember asking at the smoke break if my story could be next. He just laughed at me and made me wait.

When we finally got to my story he held up his copy and I could see a million, possibly 2 million, red circles on the first page. I was sure he was going to order me out of the class room and tell me to drop the class. He would make me change my major. I was done. I would just go lay down on Cass Ave and wait to be run over by a car. Instead, he said it was the best story of the week. That he hated one line in the last paragraph and that my abuse of commas was shameful, but otherwise it was a great story.
I’ve had some really good moments in my life, I’m a lucky person in that regard, but that moment remains one of the best. Osvaldo Sabino was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had, and not just because he liked my stories. He knew how to encourage and antagonize in just the right ways. He was a pain in the ass and an absolute wonder in just about equal parts. He was always trying to set me up with cute boys. I needed to live more according to him. And he was always encouraging me to pursue scholarships and opportunities.

And I was just one of many who were lucky enough to know him.
He died unexpectedly on Tuesday. It’s been 16 years since I last saw him in person and I feel like it was just last week that I was sitting around the big round table at Z’s on the corner of Woodward and Warren with him and his partner, Chris Leland, part of a crew of young people passionate about words and stories and saying something real and true.

Thanks for your time and your knowledge, Os.  And the absinthe, too.

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Filed under grief, Memory lane

Oh, today.

Some days you wait for with dread.  You know they’re coming and you feel a fist closing in your chest.  Or I do anyhow.

If you’re lucky you don’t have many of them, but most people have one or two I’d think.  They probably get easier with time.  No, they absolutely do.  There are days that used to leave me a weepy mess that now pass unnoticed every year.

But today, today is a properly miserable day.  Never mind that it’s sunny and warm out.  Today marks a full year during which life has gone on in a world without my dad.  And, really, that’s a shame.  I’d like to give today back.  Get a do over on this day last year and the month leading up to it.

It’s just so completely lousy knowing that my kid won’t get know my dad.  My dad who has a proven track record of being a pretty great Grandpa.  It’s not fair, that’s life though right.  He’d have been the first to remind me of that, probably while pretending to play the world’s smallest violin.

 

I miss him too much today.

 

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Venezia! AKA Plans and Memories

Jeremy and I are heading back to Venice the weekend of Oct 28th.

We’ll catch the end of this year’s Biennale and go see the current exhibit at Palazzo Fortuny and stay in a hotel on San Zaccaria.

Then I will com home and write a book, at least a first draft, in November. 

THEN we’ll go the ATP the first weekend of December in Minehead.

And in the middle of all this my grandmother is still unwell and staying in a nursing home as they try to build her health back up after her surgeries and any time I see a funeral on the TV it makes me cry.  The final episode of the first season on Treme nearly killed me last week when we watched it on DVD.

I keep thinking of driving down two lane highways and listening to The Watson Twins and wandering around my old neighbourhood in Detroit and sitting in hospital waiting rooms hoping for even the smallest thing to go right and sand cranes in plowed fields and old school houses and the colours in my parents’ old back yard changing as October marched on.

This started out happy and then turned sort of maudlin, huh?  I didn’t mean for that to happen. 

There are good things on the horizon though, more on those soon.  I need to move through this bout of sadness first I think.

 

 

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Filed under grief, Memory lane, travel

Ack

I haven’t posted anything in ages, I know.  There is a lot going on right now that’s keeping me away.  Work on the house, work at work, and a couple of top secret items I can’t talk about just yet. 

And, yes, I know it’s lame to reference a top-secret item without actually giving up the info, but I just can’t yet, okay?

Thing I can talk about, though, include, the fact that a man named Dickie is currently working on fixing the render and repainting the front of my house, following which he will fix our hallway so it looks nice and also fix the walls in our much neglected second bedroom.

Jeremy is in Bangladesh right now for work.  But he gets back very soon.

My grandmother has been moved from the hospital to a nursing home, where she will probably stay for the next few months as she recovers from her recent surgeries.

And it’s October, a month I have been dreading, because October marks the anniversary of the month I spent in Michigan last year when my dad was in the hospital.  It feels impossible that this year has gone by so quickly and so slowly.  I’ve got plans in place to get through November (NaNoWriMo , lots of time off work, Gillian Welch concert) but have made no contingencies for this month, which was kind of stupid of me.  Hopefully the building works on my house and prep for NaNoWriMo will keep me distracted.

And on a more frivolous note, Oliver tried to eat my toes yesterday morning.  Apparently rather than sleeping I should have been unlocking his cat flap and letting him out into the world.  My cat can really be a jerk sometimes.

 

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Filed under book? what book?, dorking it up, grief, homely, olimuhver

Strange reminders.

It’s now been almost 6 months since my dad died.  Sometimes it feels impossible that it didn’t happen yesterday, and sometimes it feels like 6 years have gone by.  It’s not at all surprising, I imagine, for me to say that I am still grieving.  What is surprising though, to me anyhow, is the force with which it still hits sometimes and the small things that will trigger it.

This morning, for instance, I was doctoring my coffee and got a flash of myself at the hospital in Lapeer ordering coffee at the tiny Starbucks in the back of the waiting room on the ground floor.  Every day I would stop there before heading up to ICU and every day the lady would ask me what flavor I wanted in my latte.  And every day I would say, ‘Coffee flavor.’  And she would stand in front of her vast array of syrups and look at me all like, who drinks coffee for the coffee flavor? 

And then I would go to the elevator and up to Dad’s room and in the early days, maybe we would talk or he would write me a message, or we would watch CNN show the Chilean miners as they were transported above ground.  And then later, after the ventilator, I would sit there with my coffee flavored coffee and stare at him as I made bargains with god(s) and universal forces (I’m not spiritually picky in times of crises).  I would silently chant Kundalini mantras in my head (Ra ma da so, sa say so hung.  It’s supposed to be healing) and picture my dad healthy and laughing and surrounded in a glowing light.  Or I would sit by the window and knit or talk quietly to Mom or the friends who sat vigil with us.

And each day he would look older and weaker and each day we would take turns feeling dejected, hopeful, sad or optimistic. 

But you know where all that got us.  My mantras and bargains (I hesitate to call them prayers because they were so blatantly self-serving) didn’t change the outcome.  The lady at the Starbucks counter never stopped being surprised that I didn’t want a shot of vanilla or raspberry in my coffee.  Later, when we got to the hospital in Detroit, there were so many more people around that no one at the coffee counters there really gave a crap about how I took my coffee, which was kind of nice. 

Not that any of this matters, the coffee related stuff, anyhow.  It’s just another random trigger to those strange in between days spent expecting him to get better, waiting for it with such firm belief that he would get better only to be let down so drastically.

These memories pop up, fully detailed and high-speed, they go though me quickly and then they sort of echo in my brain (obviously, why would I be writing this otherwise?).  I never know where they’ll come from so the world is currently something of an emotional minefield.  Less so than it was a few months ago, but that makes it more treacherous in a way, because I let my guard down now. 

Grief is ridiculous and strange.  I don’t recommend it.

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Back from the thawing north

Even though we were only back in Michigan for a week, just under, really, it felt like we were there for at least 2 or 3.  In a good way though.

Dad’s party was a tremendous success.  Only 210 people were expected but at least 250 showed up, probably more.  One of the rules he decided on for the party was that there should be more laughs than tears and this was definitely the case.

People talked about him with such love and humour, I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of my father.  Sure he used to make me crazy and angry on a regular basis but he was still one of the most outstanding men I’ve ever known.  And, clearly, he touched a lot of lives in very positive ways.  We should all be so lucky.

My mom planned an amazing party, she put together hundreds of photos and pieces of memorabilia from Dad’s life.  Every table had a Donald Duck in the center and an ARDS support center brochure and K8DD card at each place.  Much to Mom’s dismay, a lot of fart jokes were told, but I think she just needs to accept the role that flatulence will always play in my father’s legacy.  It was truly one of his special talents.

We were all lucky to have known him despite this special talents.

Dad (K3DCB) and his friend Jim at the start of the obsession

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In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

We go back to Michigan next week. 

We leave Wednesday morning and arrive in the afternoon.  We’ll meet Jeremy’s dad and then drive up to the woods.  It will be weird.

Saturday the 9th is the celebration in honor of my dad.  It’ll be held in Port Huron at the hotel where I worked for 3 months in 1996 before walking out after realizing I’d rather be hung over at a family reunion than working as a hostess in the restaurant of the Thomas Edison Inn.  On 9th April I will essentially be at a family reunion.  But one where I’ll be giving a speech (not really a speech exactly, more of an extended anecdote filled toast).  Also I will probably not have toenails painted blue (although I think if I wanted I could still pull that off), and if I want a hang over I don’t have to drive to Canada to get one.  I will probably try not to have a hangover though.

And even though my nerves are starting to ratchet up, as they always do before I take a trip anywhere that involves more than a couple hours in an airplane (because they are unnatural and scary and I don’t like to think about the fact that I am in the air too much but I always do), I am looking forward to this trip.  It will be good to see friends and family and it will be good to celebrate my father’s life with them.

Hopefully, it will not snow while I’m there.  London has totally made me soft.

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Filed under america, grief