"deal me out, boys..."
probably the coolest pick up line ever. laid thick on my mother at a swingin' 60's london med. school party. my mother was in england for a year as an au pair girl, and my father had fallen in love.
three years later they were married, lived in england for two, and then took the queen elizabeth II over to toronto, canada in 1965.
on december 13th, 1978 he died at age 38.
he collected stamps, loved rugby and was obsessed with soccer. if you think andres cantor can crank out a "gooooooaaaallllllllllllll"....you never heard my dad yell when pele scored in varsity stadium, toronto in the mid-1970s.
we used to go trainspotting after school. he had a black leather binder crammed full of CP or CN engine numbers. my heart would flutter as we covertly pulled up behind some random building close to the railway tracks. first you could feel her. the slight tremors underfoot. and then the sight of spotlights in the distance; a green light, then anticipatory palpitations and, quick, the necessary preparations. highlighters uncapped. eyes peeled wide. would it be a number we hadn't seen? wiggling with excitement, my brother and i could hardly wait for the engine to pass. if it was a number we'd never seen, excessive hopping and hugging ensued. if it was a number we had seen before, we waved and waved and waved at the conductor.
and they always waved back.
even after school snacks of chocolate milk and bananas couldn't compare.
[yup, there she is. from a jaguar to a pacer. go figure]
he loved open faced tomato sandwiches with mayonnaise and salt.
he loved the beatles, and elvis.
he made house calls to his patients in little italy, at a time when that was considered antiquated.
he created games for us all the time. shuff 'ha penny with quarters, scrambled word games, cycling events and soccer in the park.
but, it became clear that no-one was picking him for the team anymore.
in 1970, he was diagnosed with diabetes. so, perhaps i am projecting, but his twinkle diminished, as he commenced upon a path that would ultimately destroy him physically and mentally.
for years i witnessed his deterioration through a bubble of deception.
no-one explains to a child of 7 why your father's teeth are falling out at the table. you just feel a stone drop into your bowels and permanently settle in.
you do them an incredible diservice to lie, fib, and embellish the truth.
i don't know what's worse. people who "don't know what to say", and say nothing at all. people that claim, "well, things could be worse", or the green shit advocates who believe juice is a cure-all, no matter how many times i have tried to explain that broken kidney filters can't process anything anymore.
no, i think the worst are the people who spout bumper-sticker-esque platitudes adopted from some quickie weekend conference on "zen and positivity". "there's no right or wrong. it just is"...
similar to those that subscribe to the ridiculous, manipulative commercialism of books like "the secret". oooh, channel a house, and you will receive, based on the power of attraction. to suggest you can cure breast cancer by simply watching charlie chaplin movies, is not only ridiculous; but wildly irresponsible. are the rest of us simply inadequate in our determination?...or is it maybe, just possible, that it's all a bunch of hooey?
you tread on thin ice by suggesting that those who live the hell of chronic illness; restriction, discomfort and isolation should perceive their situation as "good; it's just meant to be..."
what a convenient quote to casually toss around when you have zero context for the core of others' pain.
what insults me most about these statements is the inflexibility; the inhumanity. with no attachment, there comes no suffering. sure. (i studied my yoga!). but without attachment, there can be no love....so what's the point?
these recent letters from israel have revealed eerily similar disappointments, fears and frustrations between us.
but his sense of humor, despite a recent brush with death in '76-'77, remained intact. self-effacing; almost caustic. and introspection piercing a bulls eye every time.
he knew he was going to die.
"for myself, i am not afraid. this is not so important- as long as the time spent between now and then is joyous and happily". (1970)
"i cannot helping reacting totally emotionally to my situation. despite being aware that i ought to know better. i am not unhappy. i am not depressed". (1978)
for years he trudged through a disintegrating existence, much in the way i tolerate mine.
his addictions, have become my addictions. and his downward spiral is now my downward spiral.
but he never lost his joie de vivre. not once.
when you lose a parent, a part of you is annihilated forever. but, if there is a gift to be found in all of life's challenges, perhaps there's one right in front of my nose.
[december 13th, 1978]
i have finally found my soul mate.
one of the last times i saw him, i proudly showed off my "grease" double album. as i prattled on about the story, the characters and the musical numbers, he seemed nothing but enthralled. i suspect it was his last stand. and yet, he never let on.
all i saw was my daddy.
and all he saw was daddy's little girl.