Just found out that one of my cousins died. Weird. That's the second person from my generation, I think.
Just found out that one of my cousins died. Weird. That's the second person from my generation, I think.
Happy birthday to my father, on what would have been his 69th birthday.
"69, dudes!" -- Future Bill & Ted
I was kept busy, given something important to do. That was a good thing, I suppose. It gave me a little bit of detachment from what was going on. Just a little bit, though. Just enough.
This was in August. My sister, Dina, asked me to use my camcorder to tape her son's funeral. Not because she thought that she might ever actually get up the nerve to watch it again, but instead because she didn't want it to just be over and done with. As funerals usually are so wont to do.
There's a funny thing about that request Dina made. She could have the filled-in the blank in the phrase, "Please __________ Cory's funeral," with anything at all, and I cannot imagine any possible thing that I would have refused, or even hesitated at.
Please streak at Cory's funeral.
Please sing "I Am Woman" at Cory's funeral.
Please smear peanut butter all over yourself, and make a pass at every woman over 60 at Cory's funeral.
Please pretend to be homeless, and beg for change at Cory's funeral.
I'd have done any or all of those things, if she'd asked on that day. But, distracted as she was, she didn't ask me to do anything embarrassing like that. She missed out on that golden opportunity. She just asked me to tape the thing. So that's what I did.
I stood over near a wall, out of the traffic and near an electrical outlet. Lacking a tripod, I put my camcorder in my left hand. And I held it there for an hour. My arm got pretty sore near the end, but that was the price I was paying. That price was, of course, nothing compared to that which Dina was paying, so I stood my ground and I did my favor for my sister.
The chaplain, a cousin of ours, conducted his somber service. Cory's friends from school played songs and sang. Some of them got up and talked for a bit. Relatives that I didn't even know existed - such as Cory's stepsister - got up and talked for a bit.
That, in particular, tore at me. I so wanted to fling my camera to the ground and somehow carry that poor girl away from the terrible new reality in which she'd suddenly found herself. But, I didn't. I had something important to do. I had to tape the thing.
Each time, after someone would speak, the chaplain would wait for a bit to see if there was anyone else who wanted to say anything. The room would be quiet, as we all waited to see if someone would stand up and walk forward.
I don't know if anyone really expected it to happen. I know that I certainly didn't. Someone finished speaking. The chaplain waited. The room was quiet. A couple of soft sobs off to my right, where Cory's closest friends sat. An incongruous giggle way off to my left, at the back of the room. But that was it.
As quiet as it was already, that was nothing compared to what happened next. It was as if silence became a force, a fog that enveloped the entire room in a matter of a few seconds. The same few seconds, in fact, that it took for my sister Dina to stand up and walk to the pulpit.
I don't remember what she said. I could, I suppose, go downstairs right now and watch my recording. My camera hasn't moved since a couple of days after the funeral, when I burned DVDs for those who wanted them. But I'm not ready to watch the thing. Maybe, some day, I will.
I don't remember what she said, because I wasn't paying attention anymore. Not to what was being said, anyway. I'd caught, in my eye, via the screen on my camcorder, I'd caught sight of something surreal and awe-inspiring. A mother, my sister, standing near her son's lifeless body, somehow managing to stay strong enough to breathe, and stand, and walk, and speak.
I have never been so proud of another person. It was very nearly paralyzing to me, the force of emotion that hit me when Dina started speaking. I remember thinking, There's no way I could ever be that strong. No way at all.
I've been through some shit in my life, but nothing compared to that. I would have crumbled into dust.
I've often said, especially since that day in August, that my sister is the strongest person that I've ever known..
And that's why I say it.
Happy Birthday to my youngest sister, Neisha!
That's what everyone hollered when my sister Dina returned home last night.
Of course she already knew we were there. All the cars in the driveway and the front yard would have given it away, even if she hadn't already seen the party noted on someone's calendar.
But when she and Kenny pulled into the driveway, we turned off all the lights anyway. And we all hid in the kitchen anyway. And we all hollered surprise anyway.
It's the thought that counts, right?
The occasion was Dina's birthday party. The actual birthday isn't until Wednesday, but nobody wanted to get plastered on Thanksgiving eve, so the party was last night.
Most of the usual suspects were there, with the notable exceptions of my cousin Jeff, who apparently hasn't figured out how to use his voicemail, and BadPickleGirl, who was stuck at home with a sick child.
Yes, I was very disappointed that BadPickleGirl wasn't going to be there. I'd been looking forward to seeing her and talking with her. I'd also planned to introduce her to The Reverend.
Speaking of The Reverend, that's what my first beer was (202). I'd originally thought that it would be my only beer, but I drank it fairly quickly and surprised myself by wanting more.
I spent the first couple of hours inside the house watching Nick at Nite with some kids. The other adults were outside either freezing to death or huddled in front of Dina's fancy new outdoor fireplace.
Then my friend Eric's wife Teri came in, so I had someone to talk to. SpoonsGirl joined us inside for a while too. I got the number for SpoonsGirl's brother, VegasDude. Since I'll be there next week I may look him up.
Since Eric hadn't shown up yet, Teri was out of beer. And since I'd finished mine, I was out of beer. So we went on a beer run to this little store in Greenville. They actually had a few beers that looked interesting. I chose one that was new to me:
(bottle) Clear bronze. Good head and lacing. I got hints of several spices and unusual flavors, most notably of vanilla. Very easy to drink. Very good.So I liked that a lot. I know that most of the PBDs I know would sneer at it because of who makes it, but that's their loss. More for me.
By the time we got back to Dina's, Eric had shown up. So I had someone else to talk to.
Then at one point everybody went inside the house to play some game but Teri and I stayed out by the fireplace and talked for a couple of hours. I had a second bottle of the Blue Moon Winter Ale (24).
Oh yeah, I got to talk to HatGirl early in the evening. They were going to Buckhead's and she wanted to know if there were any good beers there. I told her that I hadn't been there in months, but that they'd always had at least one or two beers that weren't swill.
Then later on I texted HatGirl to see which beer(s) she'd chosen but she texted me back saying that they hadn't gone after all. They'd gone to Rich O's.
At around midnight or so the last of the party guests started leaving, and I came home.
It could have been twice, it could have been fifty times. When your mom's heart stops beating, you don't really bother keeping an accurate count.
That last night, that last night before that last morning, they'd called. They'd called and they'd told us about the first time her heart had stopped. They'd told us that we might want to come in. Just in case, you know.
Mom had been in the hospital for over a month, and had been unconscious for at least a week. The doctors and the nurses, they kept trying to prepare us for what was going to happen. One nurse in particular had been a friend of Mom's for thirty years - even she admitted that there was no hope.
But we didn't listen to any of it. Death was something that happened to other people's mothers. Not to ours. Ours was going to wake up, and she was going to be okay, and she was going to go home and everything was going to be fine again.
That last night, before that last morning, they called. And Dad and I went in to the hospital. And we waited. When we could, we went into the room where Mom lay. They'd given her a private room in Intensive Care, so that was nice. We went into her room and we watched the number that tracked her heartbeats. We watched that number shrink and shrink and shrink and fucking shrink.
Then we'd watch it plummet to zero, and the doctors and the nurses would usher us back into the waiting room.
And we'd wait some more.
Sometime in the early morning, about 3:00 I think, the nurse came and told us that it wouldn't be long. She said that if there was anyone that we wanted to call, we should do it right away.
It could have been twice, it could have been a hundred times. When your mother is dying, and you're trying desperately to let your sisters know before it's too late, you don't really bother keeping an accurate count.
Dina's phone rang and rang and rang. It was after 6:00 when my brother-in-law finally answered the phone.
"Mike," I said. "It's happening. You need to bring everyone here."
Timing is everything.
It really is just like in the movies. You sit in a room, and you wait for somebody to come and give you an update. Always before, it had been a nurse, or a doctor. Always before, it had been one of them, but never two. Never ever two.
At 6:30 or so, two people left my Mom's room and walked toward Dad and me. I wonder now, were there two of them because there were two of us?
The nurse was crying. I'll always remember that the nurse was crying.
I don't remember what they said to us. I mean, I remember the gist of it, but not the details. When people tell you that your mother has died, you don't really bother memorizing their words.
I remember sitting down. No, scratch that. I remember a hand reaching down from above and pushing me down.
I remember my dad, after the doctor has finished telling us. Dad said, "So she's dead then." It wasn't a question. It was a simple statement of fact. It was also a silent scream that will haunt me forever. Some things you don't get over, and that was one of those things. My father, upon hearing that the only woman he'd ever loved was gone, my father kept himself in check. For me, and for my sisters, he stayed strong.
I remember that he put his hand on my shoulder, and that I put my hand on top of his, and that we just sat like that for the longest time. We sat that way until the doctor and the nurse left us, until they left us to go back into Mom's room so they could disconnect the wires and the tubes and do whatever else needed to be done. After a patient has died.
My sisters arrived too late. Dad and I were standing out in the hallway when they rounded the corner. They were actually smiling. Forced smiles, to be sure, but smiles nonetheless. That was the last time I'd see smiles for a very long time.
Somehow, somehow we managed to tell them that Mom had already died. Dad told Dina, and I told Neisha. Hell, I didn't even know Neisha, and there I was telling her that her life would never be the same again. It was hard, of course it was hard. But I did it. I did it for Dad, who was putting his own grief on hold so that he'd be better able to help his children.
You know what I wish? I wish that I believed in the afterlife. I wish that I believed that Mom could have been there in that hallway with us on that morning. She would have been so proud of Dad.
I know I was.
I still am.
My sister Neisha sent me this picture of us siblings.
Yesterday my sister Dina finally married Kenny.
It was originally going to be a nice quiet affair in Dina's back yard, but because of the rain, it ended up being more like a Keystone Kops skit, with 8,000,000 or so people all crammed into Dina's living room.
I filmed the thing, as best as I could, with Dina's camcorder, then I took a few pictures with my cellphone. One of the latter is this one:
I left the rest of the picture taking to the other 7,999,999 people.
Also, because of the weather, the happy couple decided to postpone the reception and leave for their honeymoon early.
Guess when they're doing the reception now?
Right at the beginning of DaveFest.
It'll probably come down to a coin flip for me. DaveFest is a huge honor, and not one I intent to take lightly.
This poster hangs at Rich O's. I really like it. It's just so busy. Everywhere you look there's something going on, people having fun. Each little section is its own scene, unencumbered and uninfluenced by the goings-on of the scenes elsewhere.
This is kind of like the scene at my niece's graduation party yesterday.
Except that there wasn't quite as much beer. And instead of people making beer, there were people swimming and talking and pitching horseshoes and playing volleyball. And instead of workers and pagan characters and smiling buildings and royalty, there were a bunch of people that I hadn't seen in several years. And instead of hops growing all over, there were eighteen year old girls hopping all over the volleyball court.
Just to briefly list the relatives that I hadn't seen in a long time (or ever) that showed up yesterday:
Most of the regulars were also there, with the exception of my cousin Jeff who wasn't returning any calls, and Dan "Holy Shit" Kruer and his wife Chris who had other plans.
So I guess my sister has been holding out on me. She does have hot friends. At least one anyway, and I'm now hopeful that she'll "remember" some others. Some that aren't married.
I spent about the first hour on the deck by the pool talking with my sisters and my cousins and my aunt. At one point I realized that I was completely surrounded by estrogen and decided to escape before, as Neisha warned, I started getting cramps and developing uncontrollable urges to ask people for directions.
I pitched a dozen or so games of horseshoes. The first game I lost with my cousin Mike. The next ten games I won with a coworker of Kenny's or with my friend Eric, then I lost the last game with Kenny.
By then it was dark, and I sat for a bit talking with Eric's wife Terri while the guys tried to pitch one final game of horseshoes by sense of smell or something. I don't think that worked out very well for them, but no paramedics were called so it could have been worse.
Let's see, to drink I had a half-gallon of NABC Blonde Abbey. That's a lot of 7% beer to drink but it was spread out over several hours so I was okay.
Once I left Dina's I drove down to Rich O's (even though I was filthy) and had a diet coke while talking with RealTrainGirl and MisunderstoodGirl, and some dude that looks like Buddy Rich, and DooRagGirl.
I guess I'm a little sunburned. I don't look that red by I can definitely feel it in my face. It will probably start to peel, further increasing my already undeniable sex appeal. Today I get to mow my lawn so I'll probably look like a tomato by this evening.
Well, not really. But when I saw all of the rice in the parking lot at my old high school Sunday I did get a little sad for the future.
My niece Bethany graduated Sunday. This strikes me as odd because she's only eight or nine as far as I'm concerned. And she'll stay that way dammit!
That's her looking at the camera.
The graduation festivities were, as I pretty much expected, quite boring except for those brief seconds when (a) Bethany came in with all the other Seniors, (b) Bethany got her diploma, and (c) Some particularly hot girl passed by.
That last point does not mean that I'm a pervert. It means that I'm a dirty old man.
Huge difference. Dirty old men have the same fantasies that men throughout time have had. Perverts risk getting sent to Federal Pound Me In The Ass prison.
So the nice thing about attending a high school graduation is this: If they're graduating, it's a pretty damn safe bet that they're 18 years old and therefore not jailbait. This is important to me because I've often had a hard time deciding who is stare-worthy and who is just a cute kid.
Like every time I go to Polly's Freeze.
Bethany was the first of any of my sisters' kids to graduate. In two years Dina's son Cory will follow his sister into adulthood, then my sister Neisha's kids Devynne and Logan, then finally Dina's youngest son Gehrid.
By the time Gehrid graduates I expect I'll be too old to ogle the pretty girls.
Last night I went to Rich O's.
I'll give you a few seconds to recover from that shocking news.
Okay, now breathe. It'll be okay. The Sun'll come out tomorrow.
Actually, the night started out with other plans. My sister Dina had called me to say that she and SpoonsGirl would be at a bar called O'Shea's in Louisville, and I figured that I'd go there and hang out with them.
Right after I left home, however, Dina called me to tell me that O'Shea's had been boring and that they were now at a place on Market called Farmer Brown's or some such.
A few relayed questions to the bartender confirmed that this Buster Brown's or wherever had only piss on tap, and I told Dina that I'd be going to Rich O's after all.
They joined me, and we spent a few hours in the red room talking about various stuff.
At one point this guy (one of those fucking pretty boys that always gets his way that I hate) tried to pick up one or both of the girls with the classic line, "I'm going to the store, do either of you need anything?"
My sister rattled off a shopping list consisting of feminine hygiene products and various ointments and creams. It was quite funny.
To drink, I had (of course) a couple pints of of NABC Noble Smoker. Dina had two "peachy things" which I guess were Lindemann's, and SpoonsGirl had something so boring I can't remember. Probably Spaten Lager.
After I left I went to listen to some karaoke with my cousin. There was a girl there that I went to school with but didn't really know. I will say that BigHairGirl is aging quite well.
Once I got home I played pool, pausing every minute or so to glare at my cell phone, until about 4:00 then went to bed.
Okay, so this will be quick because I don't really feel like writing anything right now. Maybe I'll come back tomorrow and add some stuff. Or maybe not.
Friday I had one of those fucking nice and pleasant evenings at Rich O's. Boring boring boring. I'm pretty sure I had a Corsendonk Christmas Ale and a couple pints of Guinness.
On Saturday my sister Dina had arranged for several family and friends to meet up at Rich O's to help usher me into my forties. It was supposed to be a surprise but I ruined it by showing up early, plus I'd already had my suspicions when Dina called me a week before to ask what my Saturday night plans were. I ended up leaving and then coming back in so I could let them surprise me.
From left to right: Dina, my old friend Eric, Dina's fiancé Kenny, Eric's wife Terri, my sister Neisha, and her husband Chris.
Making later appearances were Dan "Holy Shit" Kruer and his lovely wife Kris. CoffeeDude also came in but I don't think Dina had a hand in that.
My first beer was a Piraat, back on tap after a long absence. After Dan and Kris had arrived, and Eric left the kiddie table, I moved over there and spent a while talking with Terri about books and the intriguing fact that she has single sisters.
CoffeeDude had been recommending a Goose Island Honkers Ale so I had one of those.
(draft) A great beer for starting out an evening, yet interesting enough to make an entire session out of it. Smooth and malty. Tastes like it should have a higher ABV.
Once Terri had relinquished the throne I moved there and had a Guinness in honor of LaptopGirl, who was of course still absent physically but was nevertheless present in my thoughts.
Also in my thoughts were TrainGirl, gone for months now, and MisundersoodGirl and RealTrainGirl. MisunderstoodGirl is not working there anymore so I fear that I won't see either her or RealTrainGirl very often. Oh yeah, NotGeorge was supposed to be there but was a no-show. He'll be pretty bummed when I tell him that Dina was there.
For my final ceremonial beer of the night I had an Alaskan Smoked Porter and, once everyone else had gone home, I found myself sitting nearly alone with CoffeeDude as the big and little hands met at the top of the clock behind the bar.
So I began this new year in my life as I'd spent most of the previous one - sitting at Rich O's talking with a good friend and enjoying a good beer.
So my aunt Helen died the other day.
I guess technically she was my ex-aunt as for the last several years she was my uncle's ex-wife. I don't really remember when the divorce happened - it was during the 15 year period when I lived away from here.
I also don't know the circumstances of their divorce, but I gather that they couldn't have been pleasant. Not like all of the other divorces that happen all the time when both parties are singing and dancing.
The reason that I don't think this divorce was pleasant was that when I asked when and where the service would be held nobody knew exactly, and I got one of these when I said I'd find out from the funeral home:
Well Dave, I guess you just have to do what you think is right for your self and your own conscience.
This was said with the same tone of voice I'd have heard if I'd announced that I was embarking on a multi-state killing spree with my herion dealing cult leading gay lover.
So I definitely sensed some tension there.
Well you know what, I liked Helen. And I'm going to go pay my respects. The rest of my family can do what they think is right for their own selves and their own consciences. My conscience tells me that, if things were really bad between her and my family, then she showed a lot of courage when she came to my father's funeral. I can repay that, if nothing else.
Went to see the play Seussical at the high school last night. My niece was in it, and my nephew made a couple of appearances as a stagehand.
I enjoyed the play, especially the performance of one of my niece's friends as a yellow bird. There were two things that struck me as unusual though.
I realized about halfway through the thing that, as good as it was, it would probably be unbelievable if I were stoned - and that's a thought I haven't had in over two decades.
Near the end, when the Whos are trying to be heard, one of the characters takes a deep breath and shouts
I was positive that this kid was going to say fuck but the applause over how long he held the fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu made it impossible to hear how he finished.
After the play, I went to Rich O's and met up with my sister's friend SpoonsGirl and her imaginary friend HotBlonde. I had a Corsendonk Christmas Ale, a Rogue Dead Guy, and a Hitachino Red Rice Ale. Rich O's wasn't as crowded as Fridays have been lately, but of course I did arrive later than usual.
SpoonsGirl wanted to steal a mead cup then, when I told her I wouldn't allow it, she grudgingly offered to buy a mead cup, but they didn't have any for sale. I promised SpoonsGirl to remind someone to order an extra one sometime so she could buy it.
"Watch this, CoffeeDude. I bet I can get that girl to come sit with us."
CoffeeDude took a look at the girl at the bar, then took a look at me, then took another look at the girl at the bar, and then gave a little chuckle. "Go for it." CoffeeDude was skeptical.
He was more skeptical when I began flailing my arms and calling out "Hey you!" trying to get her attention.
He was the skepticism king of the universe when, having failed to lure her gaze with my flailing and hey-youing, I wadded up a napkin and threw it at her head.
Hey, girls like that stuff, right?
Well my aerial bombardment did indeed get her attention, as I'd known it would, and I patted the couch and told her that a seat was available. She got up and made her way over.
We couldn't very well turn CoffeeDude loose upon the world, thinking he'd discovered a new secret of chick-magnetism, throwing stuff at all the women he encountered, so after enjoying a couple of seconds of being CoffeeDude's hero, I introduced him to my sister Dina.
Dina's fiancé was out enjoying a boys night out so she came to Rich O's to have a couple of beers with her older brother. Awwww.
Other than this little bit of rarity, it was a pretty tame night. We all sat in the living room area and talked. I had a Gulden Draak and a Delirium Tremens. I introduced Dina to NABC Tunnel Vision, and she seemed to like it.
Also, I guess the place where my uncle and cousin have been doing karaoke has decided to stop for a while, so unless they get another gig somewhere I'll be going straight home from Rich O's.
That's what I did last night.
Actually more of a Saturday beer report as Friday I stuck to Diet Coke, but let's not get too picky, okay?
Friday night I arrived late, mainly to get some food for my flu-ravaged body. The place was incredibly crowded.
Even after 10:00 it was mostly standing room only.
At one point, however, I did grab a quick seat on the loveseat and I and some people I didn't know got to comparing cell phones.
I took this picture of the cute blonde sitting on the sofa and sent it to her phone eventually. My first attempt went to some random number and some guy called me back and asked "Who's the blonde? She's hot!"
This picture was not from Friday night - it was just in my phone from the week before or something. These are a couple of my Rich O's friends.
OddlyPrettyGirl paused long enough to smile for the camera.
After I'd left Rich O's and eaten some food I felt a lot better so I went to where my Uncle Wayne does karaoke.
This is my Uncle Wayne and my Aunt Carol and some Hispanic guy that I don't know.
On Saturday I felt pretty much back to normal so I went to Rich O's and had some half-pints of several beers.
Some other stuff happened but I'm keeping it to myself.
The weather did its best to wreak havoc on my family's holday plans, but only suceeded in shuffling things around.
Instead of my sisters and I meeting and Dina's house, we went to Neisha's and trudged through their unplowed driveway.
Instead of having my grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins to my house for Christmas Eve, we all ended up at my grandmothers house. The official reasoning for that was to make it so my grandmother wouldn't have to go out in the cold, but I think the unofficial reason was that Christmas Eve has been at my grandmother's house for the last million years - except for last year when it was at my house - and it just somehow feels right to be at her house on that night.
Afterwards, my cousin Mike and I played pool until nearly 4:00 AM, and I'm feeling pretty sluggish from my halfassed attempt to get a decent amount of sleep.
Right now I'm sitting here pretty bored. I want to go out and do something tonight, but I'm not sure what. Rich O's is closed (for the holiday, not because of the street conditions). VigilanteGirl is working. Maybe I'll make the trek to Jeffersonville in search of Newcastle at Hooters.
Oh yeah. Mike and I split a bottle of Delirium Noel last night. A very good beer for such a cold night. After that I had my last bottle of Mad Bitch and Mike tempted fate by drinking some canned Guinness that'd been in my fridge for either months or years.
Well we all ended up driving to my completely snowed-in sister's house for gift exchanges.
Down the road from my house there's this overturned snowplow. Not the best omen.
This is my sister Neisha's road. Actually this is the good part of the road. What doesn't really show up in the picture is that the "plowed" part of the road is still over a foot deep.
An added bonus in this picture is a part of my finger.
B-day greetz to my lil sister Dina, yo!
In my hung-over state I forgot to write about this Saturday occurrence.
When I first arrived at Rich O's, I walked to the bar to order my first beer and talk with CoffeeDude for a bit.
Before I'd got two feet inside the door this girl sitting at the bar just started freaking out.
That's him! That's the guy! He's right there! I can't believe it! Hey Dave, over here! How are you!
Finally, the recognition I deserved. She was waving and bouncing up and down and I wouldn't be surprised if she wet herself a little.
This moderately attractive (I like brunettes in glasses) girl was as happy to see me as anyone has ever been - even more so than WendysLady. The problem was, I didn't have the slightest idea who in the hell she was.
I scanned my memory of my slightly checkered past, and found nothing. She did look familiar but I just couldn't place who she was.
Well as it turned out, this girl was a friend of one of my sisters, and I had actually met her a couple of times before.
What got GlassesGirl so excited was that she had just been talking to someone about my sister, and in particular my sister's Renaissance Faire obsession, when I walked in.
There I was, living proof that my sister existed and, by extension, proof that there really are people in the world that travel around trying to out-geek each other by dressing up in garb and saying aye and huzzah all the time.
My sister's fiance has this truck that cracks me up.
It's a Dodge, extended cab, dually wheeled, long bed monster that will come in quite handy if he ever needs to, I don't know, maybe tow my sister's house a few feet to the right or something.
Watching him pull into my driveway yesterday was like watching the Queen Mary pull into port.
Halloween is in a couple of days, so I thought I'd write about the only "true" story of the supernatural that I've ever been a direct witness to.
My grandmother died on September 27, 1998 in a nursing home. Before she went to the home she'd lived in a relative's home for about a year. Before that, she'd been in the same house for nearly 60 years. That's the house I'm talking about here.
I grew up about 100 yards from MaMaw's house, and I spent a very large part of my childhood in it. With my parents working all the time my sisters and I spent nearly as much time in that old house as we did in our own. All of my cousins would come over to play pretty often. We had Christmas lunch there. From the time I was about 10 until I was 18 I spent at least two nights every week in that house.
No matter how much time I spent there, the house still scared the shit out of me sometimes.
It's just a creepy house. The upstairs in particular - many of the rooms have crudely-nailed panels blocking access to or from the attic. As a kid I was always afraid of those areas and would usually sneak past them while watching carefully for an arm, or a tentacle, or whatever I was most afraid of during that particular time in my life.
But enough background. I was a kid. It was an old house. It scared me.
A couple of days after my grandmother died my cousin Jeff and I went up to the old house to look around. Though nobody had lived there for over a year, there was still electricity and water since my uncle had been using it for storage.
This was the first time I'd been in the house since MaMaw had died, and it was the first time Jeff had been there in at least a few years.
So we went into the house and were immediately stunned by how warm it was. It must have been over a hundred degrees there. The furnace was going full-blast and the registers were almost too hot to touch.
I went to the thermostat against the kitchen wall and, sure enough, it was set at the absolute maximum. I turned it back down to about 50 or so and Jeff and I continued our explorations.
The next day I mentioned to another cousin (one who's father was using the old place for storage) that I'd lowered the thermostat.
He got a quizzical look on his face, and told me that there was no way that the furnace could have been going, that there was no way that the house could have been that warm.
You see, when my grandmother had moved out of the house, over a year earlier, they'd removed the propane tank.
I confirmed this rather alarming fact myself. The house had no gas supply. The furnace had no fuel. The pilot light was long dead.
So that's the story of the weirdest thing I've ever experienced. If I was better at writing about scary stuff I bet you'd be shitting your pants right about now.
Yesterday I went to a wedding. One of my cousins on my dad's side decided to take the plunge and marry a guy that looks, oddly enough, a lot like one of my cousins on my mom's side.
The things I wanted to say about the wedding are these:
1. This was only the second church wedding I've attended. To me there was what seemed to be an awful lot of talk about God and His "One Man, One Woman" plan. I guess you have to expect all of the religious talk in a church wedding, but I actually thought the guy got a little too political.
2. The bride's side of the aisle had about 50 people. The groom's side had maybe 10. I don't know what the story is there but I'm sure it's an interesting one.
3. Neither of the bride's brothers made the trip from TN to attend. These are the same brothers that didn't make the trip a week earlier when their father had emergency bypass surgery. According to an informal poll (I asked some people at Rich O's) it is not unreasonable to drive 600 miles to see your father for what may be the last time before he has major emergency surgery. According to the same poll it is not unreasonable to make that same drive to attend the wedding of your sister.
4. That's all I can think of.
Happy Birthday to my little sister Neisha!
I didn't really forget your birthday. I just forgot what yesterday's date was.
Happy birthday to my Grandma Siltz!!
And it looks like you got the present you wanted!
Found out this morning that my niece Bethany has been nominated for Homecoming Queen!
My sister is very excited.
My question is, "Why even bother to vote?" I haven't seen any of the other girls but I already know that Bethany should win.
I mean, who could compete with Beffie?
1. Impressive because of unnecessary largeness or grandeur.
My sister Dina bought this smimming pool. It's about half the size of her house. My other sister described the view of the thing from the kitchen as looking like The Great Wall of China ran through Dina's backyard. I have to agree.
Too bad it's been so cold here - she might have to wait until Spring to enjoy it.
One of the neat things about my childhood was that my Mom's birthday often fell on Father's day.
That happened again this year, but with both of my parents gone it's just not as cool as it used to be.
My mom died in 1988, and my dad died 10 years later, both at way too early of an age.
Last Fall, on the 5th anniversary of my dad's death, I wrote a pretty lengthy entry about it.
I was planning to do the same thing this year, on June 20th, to say some nice things about my mom.
It's just too much.
I'll get to it eventually, but the thought of digging through memories that are over 15 years old just doesn't appeal to me right now.
I know Mom would understand. The last thing she'd want would be to have me sitting here at my computer getting sadder and sadder while dredging up all those old memories.
Thanks for understanding, Mom. And Happy Birthday.
Today marked my annual family reunion, celebrated in June each year, at least since 2001 or so, and held at my sister Dina's house.
I wish I could sit here and write about how fantastic these get-togethers are, but I can't.
For the most part we all just sat around talking about various fluff. We also played a couple of games of horseshoes.
I'm glad that Dina has started holding these things. I just wish people would take them more seriously. Several of our cousins didn't make it, again, and I can't help but wonder what happend to the old days when family - even extended ones - were important to everyone.
Not that I'm perfect when it comes to family appreciation. Far from it. The annual reunion of my mother's side of the family has become more of a nuisance than an event I look forward to.
Anyway, I'm rambling here, so I'll stop.
Last night was a special night at Rich O's. For one thing I actually got my sister Dina to come by for a while. This rare event was then surpassed by the arrival of Dan "Holy Shit" Kruer, a friend from 20 years ago, and his wife Chris, a childhood friend of Dina's.
First things first though. When I arrived I knew that I'd need to find a suitably weak beer for my sister to drink. I asked some regulars what was the wimpiest beer at Rich O's and was told it was Spaten Lager. I had one of these to field-test it for Dina and it was indeed wimpy.
I sat for a while, drinking my wimpy beer and talking to RealTrainGirl and her friend Matt-Josh-Willy-Whatever about various things like would I be able to recognize Dan and Chris when they arrived.
Dina arrived and immediately wanted to know where LaptopGirl was. I guess she's read about my fascination with her in my 'blog. Unfortunately LaptopGirl didn't arrive until after Dina had gone but she did get to meet RealTrainGirl and MisunderstoodGirl before Dan and Chris arrived.
While the girls drank their wimpy Spaten Lagers I tried to make recommendations for Dan. I think he tried the Beak's Best, then sampled the Cone Smoker and Community Dark before settling on the Dark as a beer he liked.
I ended up having a few half-pints of Cone Smoker and then a couple of Community Darks. The Cone Smoker is style#1 and the Community Dark remains unchanged.
After a while my sister and then my friends left in search of some industrial swill and I sat and talked to LaptopGirl and a couple of Rich O's professional beer drinkers until they closed the place up and kicked us out.
Exchanged presents with my sisters' families last night. It definitely seems odd to be having Christmas on December 19, but everyone is so busy busy busy that last night ended up being the best time to do it I guess.
I got two of the things I'd specifically asked for (a Skewb Diamond puzzle and Robert Byrne's new book) as well as a cool cat calendar, a DVD, and a couple of cans of nuts.
Next on the festivities calendar is Christmas Eve, which will be at my house this year. That will be very strange, since it's been at my Grandma's house for my entire life.
Birthday greetings to my sister Dina!
Perhaps it's time to start lying about your age.
Today is the five-year anniversary of the day my dad dropped dead.
Well that's not what actually happened. He really died at a hospital after collapsing at work. He died in an emergency room before anyone in his family even knew he was in trouble. So for us, who had no chance to say goodbye, he was there one instant and gone the next. For us, he simply dropped dead. A month before his 57th birthday.
I'd last seen Dad a couple of weeks earlier. He'd dropped me off at the airport as I was flying to Chicago for work. For us, things were still a little strange. I'd only moved home, after living all over for 15 years, just a few weeks before. We'd not really had a chance to get to know each other since I'd become an adult. Oh, our relationship was good, not strained at all, we just didn't know each other as well as we could have. All that was going to change, though. I'd moved back to Indiana and we were going to hang out a lot. I think were both a little excited, and maybe a little nervous, about the change that was about to take place in our relationship.
The last words I said to my dad were when I told him that my sister would pick me up at the airport when I returned from Chicago. The last time I saw him alive was when he drove away from the airport curb in his Monte Carlo.
A couple of weeks went by and I was again traveling on business, this time to Baltimore. I left on a Monday and when I returned that Thursday night my sister Dina was waiting at my house with her family. I knew something was wrong, and she told me the news. The words that should have been burned into my brain forever were lost almost immediately.
Dad fainted blah blah broken nose blah blah ambulance blah heart stopped blah emergency room blah tried to revive blah blah died.
Dad was dead. My uncle had gone to the hospital, expecting to give Dad a hard time about breaking his nose in a fall at work, only to arrive and be told that his older brother had died. Uncle Wayne had then driven to my grandmother's house and had somehow managed to tell his mother that she'd lost a son. He then called my sister Dina and broke the news to her. I cannot even begin to imagine how hard that must have been for him. Dina let my other sister Neisha know then drove to my house to await my return from Baltimore.
My sisters and I became orphans five years ago today. We'd lost our mother ten years earlier, after a long hospital stay. Back then, we'd had time to prepare for the worst, even though I don't think any of us really believed it would happen.
When Mom died, it was as if a dull ache inside us had suddenly solidified, become a tangible thing that we could at least get a grip on and even push aside somewhat. When Dad died it was like a stake through the heart. The shock, at least for me, completely overwhelmed the grief. In a way, it still does, and I'm oddly grateful for that. After my mom's funeral I went back to my home in Omaha and went on with my life. A sadder life, of course, but less sad because my physical separation from my family aided in my mental separation from what had happened.
After my dad's death there was, and could be, no separation. My sisters I and went to the apartment the next day to clean out Dad's things. We met with the funeral director to discuss arrangements. We went to Dad's house in the country, the house that my sisters had never had a chance to see, to collect what we could. To keep busy. To keep from having to stop and think.
For the last five years our lives have gone on. I bought a house, partially with the money from my dad's life insurance. My sister had another baby. She got divorced. My other sister has developed this obsession with Renaissance Faires. We've all gone on because we've had to. We've had to play the hand that we were dealt. Folding is not an option.
The rest of the world has gone on as well. The Internet bubble has burst, but not before creating an awful lot of new millionaires. The passing into the year 2000 ended up being more of a media event than the disaster many were predicting. We elected (sort of) a new President. And the United States, perhaps even the world, became a much scarier place when that second plane struck the World Trade Center.
Every now and then, not as often as before but still more often than I'd like, I'm struck by the absurdity and unfairness of it all. Dad worked jobs he hated for his whole life so his family would be taken care of. He lost his wife when he was forty-six. He bought a little house in the country, made it livable, and eagerly awaited an early retirement. He never got that retirement. That time to simply relax and enjoy the fruits of his lifetime of labor. What he got was a new suit and a place in the ground next to my mother.
On my bad days I cannot stop wondering (boy do I wish I could) what Dad's last minutes were like. Did he know what was happening? Was he in pain? Was he scared? I'll never know the answer to those questions, and it bothers me more than words can say. Was he there for us our whole lives and then, when he needed us the most, we couldn't be there because it all happened too fast?
We may not have been able to be there for Dad, but we did our very best to be there for each other. As hard as the loss was, it may well have been impossible for any of us had we been unable to call on our family and friends to share the burden of the shock and grief.
My father was David Martin Siltz. He was born on December 17th, 1941 (Ten days after Pearl Harbor) and died on November 12th, 1998. He was 56 years old.
He grew up in Southern Indiana with his parents, Stanley and Dorothy Siltz, and his brothers Wayne and Stanley.
He married Launa Harmon when he was 21. He and his wife had three children; David, Dina, and Neisha. They in turn gave him between four and seven grandchildren, depending on how you count them.
For several years he built fences for a living. After that he delivered propane gas. Then he turned to factory work, making, among other things, little rubber things shaped like french fries that were used by other factories to make things like tires. He worked hard both at home and away. There was never much money but there was always enough.
He pulled his son and daughter out of bed to watch the first man walk on the Moon, though he knew they were probably too young to remember it.
When his oldest children were little they'd often ask him to draw for them. His favorite things to draw were Chevrolet Impalas. He always drew a checkered flag and a trophy off to the side, and money floating around, and it made his son laugh.
He lost his beloved wife on January 16th, 1988. Just 13 days before their 25th wedding anniversary. He remarried once, a couple of years afterwards, but was soon divorced and single again.
He spent his last years in a little apartment in New Albany. "Just a place to sleep," he'd always say. His real home was the little camper, and later the little house, in the country that he'd escape to whenever his work schedule allowed it.
He loved cars, and could identify all the old cars after the slightest glance. He bought a Corvette and a Monte Carlo SS and withstood the accusations of "mid-life crisis" from his family. He even joined a car club and helped judge entries at their shows.
He could spot a four leaf clover "while driving down the road" as his brother Stan joked.
He was very good at pitching horseshoes. He'd learned from his father.
He liked to play pool with his friends, and put a pool table in his country house - the first time he'd had enough room for one in nearly thirty years.
He liked Benny Hill and James Bond and the old spaghetti westerns.
He was a big fan of Anne Murray.
All of his radios were tuned to the oldies station.
He would read voraciously, usually science fiction novels, and in his locker at work on his last day he had a half-finished book that his son had loaned to him. That book was buried with him.
He would work a crossword puzzle every morning after a night shift, and carry a book of them to work and fill them in throughout the long shifts.
He could walk into a bar that he hadn't visited in years and always be greeted by name by someone there who knew him and was glad to see him. He had friends everywhere.
His favorite beer was Falls City, and it bothered him so much when that beer's recipe changed that he switched brands until it was changed back.
He had all the state capitals memorized.
He was a fan of all types of auto racing, and would often tape races to watch on his days off work.
On his last day he took some cash from the bank. He was scheduled to be off the next several days and was planning to go to his house in the country. That money instead went to pay for the clothes he wore to his funeral.
Throughout his entire life people would constantly misspell his last name. When he died, some newspapers misspelled his name in his obituary.
At his funeral, a friend from work put a book of crossword puzzles and a pencil in his casket. They were buried with him.
His favorite song was the theme from the movie "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." It was played at his funeral.
Everyone has a father, and most people lose theirs at some point. I'm not going to say that my dad was any better than anyone else's. He was better than many, certainly. He yelled but was never cruel. He punished but was never abusive. He played a very big part in making me the person I am today. I have the same sense of humor, the same love of science fiction, the same fascination with the future and outer space. My love of pool started with the table we had in our basement when I was a child.
So much of what makes me who I am came from him.
My father was David Martin Siltz. He died five years ago today.
Prediction: Within five years of this posting, the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants will stop being held.
Reasoning: Pageant organizers will see my niece and realize that any beauty competition that doesn't include her is a complete sham and waste of time.