Sunday, September 7, 2008

May 20, 1936 - August 26, 2008




My dad is dead.


It is very strange because like Meryl he was dead for so long before we found out. I spoke to the doctor who treated him in the ER and she gave me all the details. He was dead before anyone ever would have had a chance to be there with him or for him to give any contact info. They looked up some old contacts from when he was there two years ago and apparently numbers had been copied wrong. Fortunately when the case was turned over to the city those guys had the good sense to try directory assistance before he was buried in Potter's Field.

I am sad on and off. It is unreal. I chose not to maintain a relationship with him as an adult (although I tried briefly after my brother died, he was impossible). I think people need to be needed to live. He was not feeling very necessary. His last book was cancelled. I told him not to come to Sachi's graduation.

He fainted and woke up before the ambulance arrived. He said it happened before and maybe his sugar was low. The doctor told me he was calm and cooperative in the ER. He died once and she brought him back with a punch to the chest. When he came to, he asked what happened and she told him. "So I was dead? Wow!" The next time he coded, they could not bring him back.

They didn't do an autopsy but it was not a heart attack or his diabetes. They think he threw a clot in his brain or lungs. When he was in his forties, he had a similar experience to the one I had where he lost sensation and vision. He went in the hospital and they thought stroke. He was released and his sight came back. I think he had a cavernous angioma in his brain. They are hereditary especially in Hispanic families. He never had a CT scan or MRI. They didn't really have that technology back then.

I loved him even when though I should not have. He was a dangerous and destructive man. (IN THE YOUNG EYES OF A SMALL CHILD) Never confuse the art with the artist. He spun up a childhood for us and then edited as he went along removing the typos, egregious grammatical errors, and places where he dug his pen so deeply into the paper it tore. The result was a fantasy. It was lies but as beautiful and lyrical and seductive to a child as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

It 's so sad. I wasn't even that great a student. I got good grades but I did not try very hard at all. Short cuts, that was how he always described my efforts. I didn't even want to apply to Harvard and I don't remember what my essay was about. For sure, he edited it to the point where it did not resemble anything I could have produced.

And then in college, I fell apart. I could not tell which world was the real one, the bedtime story indoctrinated into me by my father, that societal norms were to be rejected because they cultivated fronts and behind the falseness was something to be feared or the one I saw in front of me where despite their Judeo-Christian beliefs and waspy prep school backgrounds, everyone sure seemed a hell of a lot happier than me. I wanted what they had but I did what my father told me to do.

"How are you?"
"How am I? Fuck you! Like you even really care."

It did not win me many friends. I conformed and I felt broken in two, then three, then more. And now there are so many pieces all over the floor I don't even know where to put them. Truth? Value? Beliefs?

Labor Day weekend I visited some friends and I gave them a copy of Blood Fugues. (I had about five copies.) David was worried I had made a mistake because the copy I gave him was signed to me. I said it was fine. (And I still mean it - this is not a hint asking for it back!) The signature made it even more valuable and he could sell it on eBay. I think I even joked that it would be worth more when he died. He was already dead. (ACTUALLY, I VISITED MY FRIENDS THE WEEKEND BEFORE AND DAVID GAVE ME THE BOOK BACK THE DAY OF THE MEMORIAL AND I FEEL GUILTY ABOUT THAT.)



1 comment:

Another towie said...

There is some serious gravity in your reflections. Definitely not at all the typical sappy stuff. I can't say I'd react the same way because I was brought up with different 'values' in the Southern USA (Southern Gentleman), but it is very refreshing to read what you have written here. As ugly as it can be sometimes (or maybe not ugly - just unconventially beautiful), I think more people could learn a thing or two more about life and death by reading the things you have written herein.

I hope (and I would suspect) that despite some of the 'ugliness' you were raised with, or perhaps because you were raised with it, you have come to a finer appreciation of a higher quality of happiness, at least relative to the people you grew up around who you *thought* were so much happier than you (you just might have thought wrong). It sounds like perhaps this has happened with your now having a family. And being a huge fan of your sister, every indication I've seen is that she's a damn fine individual, so that's awesome, too! As cantankerous as your father was, it seems that you have come to appreciate some of those qualities, despite your distance from him in recent years.

As an aside - the song that you co-wrote with 'Suz' is one of my most favourite of all of 'her' songs - The Leaf Song. It's my most-played song of the last 2 or 3 years.

I know you may not want to publish my response, but I thought that it just might be worth writing to you for you to read, even if only privately.

Best wishes to you,

Another Towie