Friday, August 04, 2006
You're The Writer
I didn't write my dad's obituary, and nobody suggested that I do it. I half-expected that I would given that I'm often tapped for that sort of thing -- eulogies, legal letters, work assignments, love notes (more frequently now, love e-mails) for friends to their beloved or would-be beloved, and even (gasp!) wedding poetry -- my first wedding poem I wrote was at the age of 16 and mostly plagiarized from "Dover Beach." You're the writer, people say, all with a tone that implies I know what I'm doing and should be able to whip something up on short notice. I know I'm living up to the dream when someone says, Oooh, put that down, that sounds good and not so much when someone says, Umm, maybe I'll do it myself. The obits (two were run for my dad -- one hometown, one major local paper) cost per word so brevity was a friend. My dear friend Angela typed out a bare bones version and e-mailed it to the papers. To keep the cost under a hundred dollars, my dad's life was reduced to two small paragraphs. Not to complain. That, I imagine, is a lot more than many people get.
When someone dies suddenly, one can hardly make a sentence. I know many things about my dad, almost none of which I can articulate. Sometimes a person is whole and undamaged in a way that makes them impossible to describe. I know my dad's last days were spent at an airshow, that he had returned home after a long trip. That as soon as I knew he'd gotten home safely, I went to sleep instead of talking on the phone to him. Thought there'd be plenty of time for that later. He and my sister went out to dinner where he had a fajita salad with no sour cream because he did not want to "bloat up" or so he told a rather overweight waitress, much to my sister's mortification. He was young, healthy, the kind of person you say has never been sick a day in his life. He'd had his bad times, as we all do, but he'd never been a troubled person, full of regret and sadness, wishing for something that wasn't. He'd gone to work that final day, two long years ago, and I like to believe he'd felt happy, all that blue sky ahead of him. That's not the kind of thing you can write in an obituary.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"And I was yet aware that this was only a moment, that the world waited outside, hungry as a tiger, and that trouble stretched above us, longer than the sky." James Baldwin
Friday's Sorrowful Mystery
one shot of vodka
one shot of Kahlua
one shot of Starbucks coffee liqueur
Serve chilled as a martini.
Benedictions and Maledictions
There were dwarves on scooters, you say,
and a chicken in the middle of the diner
that you could buy food for with dimes.
This was not that long ago and yet all our
parents have died since then, and we are
lost to each other. The dwarves scared
me, you say, how fast they whipped around,
like they owned the place. Weren’t they
afraid of falling off or hurting someone?
You take another sip of beer. Maybe,
I say, they didn’t think anything bad could
happen since they’d been there for a long
time. I’m telling you something, but you’re
somewhere else already, maybe Nevada.