Creatives

Upon witnessing the thousand upon thousand upon thousand of marvelous, brilliant, and novel flowers and plants during Jenni’s morning constitutional; it is hard to argue that there isn’t something profound influencing our world. This something has a broad canvas and phenomenal palette upon which to design and express.

I call these something’s Creatives. Not the adjective creative, but the organic, the essential, and the vital spark igniting intelligence and the miraculous diversity called Life.

For example:

 

Dear (You):

I wrote this long-handed while sitting in “The Olde Crapper,”
the oldest pub in Stow-on-the-Wold.

Typed, it remains identical except for the
“dopplestick” Altbier’s splay of creamy foam
due to the barmaid’s negligence and naiveté
of noteworthy Alt-style ales and their
distinctive yet dreadful character:

the infamously delicate and fragile froth
which collapses quicker than a slit souffle!

10 May, 2014

Dear (You):

Not writing to you doesn’t imply not thinking of you or your gracious patience since 3 February, 2014. That was the date of my last post which required wringing the writer’s dishcloth to honor the writer’s vow: To write no matter.”1-handwrittenletter2

Marcea, an insightful, honest, and very good friend (38 years) proposed “If writing is a catharsis, then I strongly suggest shifting your focus to gain perspective. If you force posts they’ll be “a whole lotta negativity” which no one wants to read.” And she was right. I spent months trying to frame what I went through, but everything devolved into a pity party or my selfishness or that I’m an unforgiving asshole. Then my partner mentioned an interview between Katie Couric and Hillary Clinton about forgiveness which ignited an epiphany underscoring families and catastrophic illnesses:

  1. Families take care of each other unconditionally, absent of remuneration, mea culpa’s, or thank-you’s;
  2. Family business is no one else’s business;
  3. Do your best and ignore failure. Indecision and regret stymies timely action;
  4. It’s their life and they’ve entrusted (not burdened) you to execute their wishes;
  5. Overlook your life which can wait. Focus on their life and prepare for remarks about death;
  6. Skirt your visceral, sentimental and selfish hope that life is too precious to be cavalier;
  7. You love, accept, honor, and respect their free will rationale about their life or death;
  8. There’s nothing, nothing more important in the whole wide world as this; and
  9. Be strong even though your heart is breaking.1-death2

Many thanks to my partner (of 30 years) who lifted the burden of impossible tasks (cleaning out his house, and negotiating with lenders); my best friend Scott who travelled with me and discussed diagnoses and added a degree of levity.

And especially to Marcea who gambled friendship for honesty.

I could not have navigated the maze alone, and I am truly blessed by being their partner and friend.

P,S, I have several drafts for new posts “in the oven.” Keep an eye out for them.

Ker-Plunk!

"I love it here!"

“I love it here!”

Our dog Jenni is a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier. The Wheaten was bred in Ireland for over 200 years to be an all-purpose farm dog. They share a common ancestry with the Kerry Blue Terrier and the Irish Terrier. In Ireland, they were commonly referred to as the “Poor Man’s Wolfhound.” The Wheaten was not recognized as a breed in Ireland until 1937. The first Wheaties were exported to the United States in the 1940s.[7] Finally, in 1973, they were recognized by the American Kennel Club. They are loving and very smart dogs i.e. Jenni knows English, Spanish, and Shitzu. She greets everyone in the same way: standing up and licking their faces. Jenni is protective of us, but isn’t aggressive even when attacked by a Rottweiler. And most importantly, they maintain their puppy like qualities throughout their lives. Yay! (Sheesh).

I had no intention of buying a dog, but I was in a manic state. When I’m manic my mantra is, “I get what I want. Period!” I’d wanted a dog for the longest time; ever since FiFi my childhood pet leapt into the front seat of the car holding a one way ticket. Had I known she’d never come back I’d at least been able to tell her how much I loved her, and that I’ll miss her dearly, and I didn’t know why adults kidnap pets which won’t be coming home.  Back then I convinced myself that my toy poodle had been set free in the woods where she could join the seldom seen and subject of many legends, the pack of wild poodles!

What a great day!

What a great day!

Of all the things Jenni is, there’s one she isn’t. She’ll never make the Olympic Swim Team in the 100 meter freestyle. In other words, she can paddle for her life, but Esther Williams she ain’t. It was late spring and the fish in our 500 gallon, 5 foot deep pond were beginning to shed their winter blues by swimming close to the water’s surface to enjoy the warmth of longer days and warmer sunlight. I let Jenni out to explore the Daffodils, Crocuses, and Snow Drops, all signs of Winter’s imminent departure. I always kept an eye on her even though the perimeter of our backyard was fenced in. Then I saw her: She had leaned to far beyond the safety of soil and onto the slippery limestone, her paws slid across the smooth face of limestone and Ker-Plunk, head first into the pond! I ran to the pond to find her circling in the middle precariously beyond my reach. I tried to coax her to the side, but she was panicking and her dog paddling was becoming erratic. I leaned over the edge of the pond, well beyond balance, grabbed her by the nape of her neck, and lifted, with one arm, a saturated fifty pound dog.
I expected that my bravery would result in a flurry of unstoppable wet kisses, but instead was the target of three whole body shakes, saturating me with gallons of my own pond water.

Kindness Serves the Souls of Strangers

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“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”   - Plato
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”   - Mark Twain
“Offer kindness without reward knowing that someone will return that which you offered another.”   - Henry Van Dyke
“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”   - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I want to thank those of you from around the world that were generous, hopeful, and kind in spirit to send my brother Get Well cards. Thanks to you he received hundreds of cards which surprised him and stunned the hospital.

When asked by nurses “who do you know?” He thought for a moment then said, “Me brudder!”

We Think Alike, Our Pets and Us

a-dogsnose-1
I have reason to believe that dogs aren’t aware of their size relative to the rest of the world. From the smallest breed to the largest there’s an obvious contradiction: the smaller breeds are the yappyist as though their bark implies, “C’monr! I’ll take y’all on! Me against 5 of you’s . . .” and their turf protection reminds me of the bully on the block. The larger breeds behave like Conscientious Objectors: demonstrating their reaction to conflict by staging a lay-in or sit-in. But I’ve determined that if you take a dog, remove its fur or hair, its legs, and its torso, a dog, fundamentally, is simply, a nose.

During one of our early autumnal walks, way past midafternoon’s march of the mothers to the elementary school followed by the pupil parade, two waning hours before dusk clocks in, we hit the abandoned sidewalk for Jenni’s thirty minutes of pure dogdom; when she’s not a pet, not part of the family, and not dependent on us. It’s her time to be a dog.

Often during our late afternoon, early autumnal walks we’re victims of late summer breeze’s giving way to staggering gusts which shake the trees like a determined child rattles his piggy bank. Green canopies disperse the shock while weaker, lower limbs lose grip. Cracking like brittle bones, the weakest branches drop like boat anchors, littering the ground with a menagerie of dissimilar limbs. Those few afternoons are beyond compare to play a rousing game of Stick!

IMG_0023

Stick! is a close cousin to fetch with one caveat: When I say Stick! Jenni’s got to find a stick to bring back to me! It’s a marvelous game, especially since I never taught her about sticks. Either Jenni understands English or I’ve picked up a bit of canine vocabulary.

On a particularly gloomy, chilly, and misty afternoon Jenni wished to play Stick! But the pickings were sparse until I located the perfect size stick for Jenni. However, it had threaded itself around three wrought iron spindles of a formidable fence. I bent down to pull the stick free from the fence and it didn’t budge. The harder I pulled the tighter it lodged itself into the fence. I paused for a moment to check on Jenni’s whereabouts, only to see that she had bitten down on the other end of the stick, and matching my determination, pulled even stronger when I successfully gained an inch on my end.

The Dead’s Etiquette: Returning To Sender

Self-designed stamp for the return of mail to sender.

Self-designed stamp for the return of mail to sender.

Emily Post let me down. Abby offered a half smile. The Post Office just stared at me.

My question was always the same: “At what point can I stop stamping to return my deceased brother’s mail?

Just last week he received a stack of mail three inches high! Perhaps they’re thinking of him as Deadbeat rather than Dead.

He died four months ago at which time I rented a P.O. Box in my neighborhood and had his mail forwarded to it. I designed the “return deceased” stamp. And each step was more painful than the last. With each envelope I was reminded that at some point in my recent past my brother for 58 years disappeared. Poof! Extracted like a tooth, and like an extracted tooth a hole remained reminding me that something had occupied that hole, something I took for granted as permanent.

I still cry when I’m reminded that he’ll never return as though he was exploring the far reaches of dense jungle. And with each damned envelope which I mannerly stamp “Addressee Deceased,” I ache with longing which tumbles to tears then swells to a contemptible bitterness toward companies which mechanically spit out statements completely void of sympathy or understanding or humanity.

I think it’s time to treat their mail like my best friend brother was treated: simply disappear.