Category Archives: Missing Folks

100

“Who’s thaaaat?” I asked with my three-year old heart filling with love.

She laughed.

That’s your father when he was in the Navy!”

“Wow.”

I sat and stared at that picture for the longest time.

My dad was an incredibly handsome man, and I adored him.  I still do.  And he is still the handsomest man I’ve ever known.

Today would have been his 100th Birthday.

mr-whiskers

Dad loved this picture.  Mr. Whiskers.  1917-2000

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Filed under 1917, 2017, Cool people, Crazy family members, Dad, Family, Father-Daughter Relationships, Good Deed Doers, Growing up, Humor, laughter, Love, Missing Folks, Normandy, Taking Care of Each Other, Thanks again

Earth Day / Science / Judy

Earth Day.  The Science March (which I sadly can’t attend until Science gets around to curing my damn Crohn’s Disease).  My late sister Judy’s birthday.  So I’m reposting this.  Hey – Jude believed firmly in recycling!

***

She’s been gone now for 17 years, Jude.  Not a day has gone by since that I haven’t wanted to talk with her, laugh with her, or, alternatively because she was my sister, smack her.  There really isn’t a relationship like you have with a sister.  Even long after they are gone.

*****

Today, April 22, is Earth Day!  It’s the Anniversary of the very first Earth Day.  Here  is Walter Cronkite’s report on the first Earth Day, 1970:

It would also be my late sister Judy’s 65th birthday.

Whoever made the decision to turn Judy’s birthday into Earth Day chose wisely.  Judy was a born environmentalist and recycler.

On the first Earth Day, Judy was a new, very young mother who believed in saving the planet.  She was the first “environmentalist” I ever knew personally, and well, I thought she was nuts.  There was a recycling bin in her kitchen for as long as I can remember.  And this was back when recycling took effort.  She believed in gardens, not garbage, and she made life bloom wherever she was.

I’ve got kids,” she’d say.  “It’s their planet too!”  

But years later, Judy took recycling to a whole different level when she helped people recycle themselves.  In the 1990s, Jude, who was then living in Florida, began working with the Homeless, assisting at shelters.   Then she actively began trying to help homeless vets food, shelter and work — to enable them to jump-start their lives.

When she died in early 2000, the American Legion awarded her honorary membership for her services to homeless vets.  A homeless shelter was named in her  honor.  So she’s still doing good works, my sister is.  That would make her wildly happy.

Jude also gave me the Beatles.  So it is very appropriate that they wrote a song for her.

You see, the night the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, it was MY turn to choose what we were going to watch.  And we were going to watch the second part of The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh starring Patrick McGoohan on the Wonderful Wide World of Disney.  My four (all older and MUCH cooler) siblings were furious with me.  But I was quite insistent.  You might even say that I threw a Class I temper tantrum over it, but I wouldn’t admit to that.  Hey, I was seven.  And it was my turn to choose.  Fair is fair, especially in a big family with only one TV.

Somehow, Judy talked me out of my turn.  She was always very persuasive.  Thanks Jude.

Hey Jude, Happy Earth Day-Birthday.

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Filed under Adult Traumas, All The News You Need, All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance, Anniversary, Birthday, Childhood Traumas, Climate Change, Cool people, Crazy family members, Crohn's Disease, Do GOP Voters Actually THINK?, Elections Matter, Family, Farts, GET VACCINATED, Global Warming, Good Deed Doers, Good Works, Hey Jude, Holidays, How the Hell Did We GET HERE?, Humor, Judy, Mental Health, Missing Folks, My Right to Protest, Not My President, Peaceful Protests, Plagarizing myself, Role Models, Saving the World, Science, Shitty GOP, Sisters, Taking Care of Each Other, Trump is a Putz, Vaccines, Women Should Decide Women's Health Issues

Cut It Out, 2017

Dear 2017,

Cut it out — right now.  Just stop being an asshole.  You’re far too young.

We already have to deal with Donald Trump sullying the Oval Office.

We already see our rights, our civil liberties, our healthcare, Medicare, Social Security, all flushed down the toilet.  [No.  I’m not going to illustrate a flushing toilet.  What do you take me for?]

But you’re off to a bad start otherwise, too.

Stop taking people.  Or stop taking good people.You need to take someone?  I have some suggestions.  Call me, 2017, so the U.S. Secret Service doesn’t.

But Mary?  You took Mary?  You left Trump and took Mary?

Jeez, 2017.  Cut. It. Out.

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My Old Friend Ray Died

My old friend Ray died this past Monday.  Suicide.  She leapt to her death from a parking garage.  I don’t know any more than that as yet.  But Ray has been troubled for many years.  There will be a memorial service next month.

***

Ray and I laughed and cried together since 7th grade, when serendipity moved me from one seat in Homeroom to one across the table from her.  To be honest, I was terrified of her.  You see, Ray was cool, she was popular, she was fun and funny.  Everybody wanted to be her friend in 7th grade.  But she wanted to be my friend.  I’ve always felt that she changed my life with that action; she raised my social status in school.  I was no longer a non-desirable.  I was a “Friend of Ray’s.”  And that was something special.

For the last 18 hours since I got home after learning the news, I’ve tried to write my feelings, my memories, my heartbreak.  But I’m failing.  How do you put a life — anyone’s life, but especially such a complex life into a few words?

Each relationship is a jar full of fragments of memories and laughter and tears.  With Ray, the edges of them were sometimes jagged, and it was never clear when you’d reach into that jar and slice into something painful for her.

Because Ray’s life was full of disappointment and pain.  But it was also full of laughter and memories that she held onto and didn’t let go.  She was smart and funny.  A talented actress in high school.  A beautiful writer who wanted us all to write and once had a party where she gave us blue notebooks and we all spent the entire night writing.

Mostly, she wanted love.  Craved it.  Begged for it.

Still, she frequently acted to push love away.  She alienated family and friends alike, especially by middle of the night phone calls – that continued in spite of constant requests, tears, anger, etc. Often, she just wanted to chat about old times.  She didn’t show up when she was supposed to meetings with friends.  Couldn’t stand to be in groups.  Made many poor choices in life.  She frankly pissed everybody off a lot.  It made her a hard person to put up with.  I along with everybody who cared about her became exasperated and felt helpless.  We went in and out of her life. After the last time she called me in the middle of the night, I blocked her from my home phone; she had only my cell.

Friends and family tried to help, but helping is sometimes easier said than done.  Certainly than done successfully.

For the last 12 years until about a year ago, Ray worked customer service in a Bed, Bath and Beyond.  I learned of the difficulties of retail workers through her – how schedules were never firmed up, so workers who couldn’t survive on those low retail wages could get a second job.

She told the most wonderful stories she told of the people who came to her counter for returns.  She could tell the stories so that the incredibly foolish mistakes of customers were endearing.  As if each silly error were a personal gift to Ray.  I’d been trying to talk her into writing a book.

One story stands out, though.

A man placed an oscillating fan on the counter, its head bent down at the hinge, facing the floor.  Looking awkward.

“It doesn’t work,” he said (Ray imitating his voice).  “It’s broken.  Its neck is broken.”

The man had clearly never lifted the head of the fan from its packing position.  So when he plugged it in and turned it on, it turned in a jerky motion like a Rocke ‘em, Sock ‘em Robot.

Ray straightened the neck, plugged it in, and showed him that it worked just fine.  She sent the customer away, happily with his fan, somehow without making him feel foolish.

Since yesterday, I have been thinking that Ray herself was a lot like that fan.  Her head was always bent incorrectly, awkwardly.  In her case, it was towards the past – towards her (our) wonderful childhood.  Sadly, there was no friendly customer service representative of life to help straighten her towards a life built more on the present and the future.

Good bye, Ray.  I love you.  I miss you.  I will always hold you dear to my heart.

May you rest in the peace that always alluded you in life.  But may your heart be ever full of love and laughter as it always was.

***

Many of us have thought about or attempted suicide, or know someone who is in crisis.  There is help.

December is a particularly sad time for many.

Get help if you need it.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

  • 1-800-273-8255 (24/7) (Press 1 for Veterans line)

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Mental Health, Missing Folks, Ray, Suicide, Suicide Attempts

Home For Christmas Again

She told the story every year with a warm smile on her face.  Sometimes her eyes got a little bit misty.

“It was 1943, and the War was on, and your father was in the Navy, on a ship somewhere in the Pacific.  We never knew where he was.  Like all the other boys I knew, he was in danger every day.  We lived for the mail, we were terrified of unfamiliar visitors in uniform.  A telegram sent us into a panic.  And ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’ had just been recorded by Bing Crosby.  It was Number One on the Hit Parade.”

That’s how Mom started the story every time.

Of course I’ll Be Home For Christmas was Number One that year.  Everyone, or just about, was hoping that someone they loved would, in fact, be home for Christmas.  That all the boys would be home for good.  But all too many people were disappointed.  I doubt there were many dry eyes when that song came on the radio that year or for the next few.

Mom and Dad got engaged right around Pearl Harbor Day, but the War lengthened their courtship significantly because Dad enlisted shortly after the attack.  It was to be a long war, and a long engagement.  But Mom was in love with her handsome man.  But Dad was even more so.

Mom, Circa 1943

Mom, Circa 1943

 

My Dad was drop-dead gorgeous, and I have heard that in his single days, he was a bit of a ladies’ man.  Every girl in town, it seemed, had a crush on Dad.

Dad, Circa 1943

Dad, Circa 1943

 

In fact, my Aunt Sally once told me that she had been manning a booth at a church bizarre one Saturday in about 1995, when an elderly woman came up to talk to her.

“Are you Freddie E’s sister?” the woman asked Aunt Sal.

“Yes I am.  Do you know my brother?” Aunt Sal responded.

“I did,she sighed.  “I haven’t seen him since we graduated from high school in 1935.  Sixty years ago.  He was,” she stopped to think of just the right word, “… He was dream-my.”

“He still is,” Sally quipped.

One day not long after after Mom had passed, Dad and I were looking at some pictures I hadn’t seen before.

“Dad,” I told him with wonder looking at a particularly good shot, “You should have gone to Hollywood.  You’d have been a star.”

“Nah,” Dad said.  “Mom would never have gone with me.  And once the war was over, well, I wasn’t going anywhere else without her.”

Dad circa 1935

Dad circa 1935

Dad never quite got over feeling lucky that he had Mom.  And he never stopped loving her.

But back to Mom’s story.

“It was Christmas morning, 1943, and I went over to visit Dad’s mom and dad.  Grammy E’d had symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease for seven or eight years at that point.  She could still move around (she was later, when I knew her, almost completely paralyzed), but she could barely talk.”

Mom continued.  But your Dad’s mom was singing ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’  Well, she was trying to sing it, any how. She kept repeating that one line, over and over again.  ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’  I thought she was crazy.”

“You see,” Mom would say, “Your father had somehow managed to get Christmas leave – he was coming home!  He wanted to surprise me and wouldn’t let anyone tell me he was coming.  He was expected any minute, and there I was, trying to leave.  But I couldn’t stay.  That song made me cry; Freddie was so far away, and in so much danger.  I couldn’t bear hearing it.”

So Mom left after a while, she had other people and her own family to see.  Later Dad caught up with her and they spent most of Christmas together.  Both of them always smiled at the memory.  Dad was home for Christmas that year, just like in the song.  It was a magical year for them both.

Mom was always touched by Dad’s surprise and by his mother’s loving gesture in fighting back the paralysis that was taking over her body to try to get her son’s girl to stay.  To sing when she could barely speak.

“I’ve always wished I’d stayed.”

We lost Mom on Easter of 1997, and Dad really never got over her passing.

The song and Mom’s story took on an even more poignant meaning in 2000.  Because on Christmas of that year, Dad joined Mom again for the holiday.  He went “home” to Mom for Christmas again, joining her in the afterlife.

Even through the sadness of losing Dad on Christmas, I always have to smile when I hear that song.  Because I can just see the warmth in Mom’s eyes now as she welcomed Dad home.  This time, I’m sure she was waiting for him with open arms.

***

I re-post this story every year, because it makes my heart feel a little bit merrier.

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Christmas Stories, Cool people, Dad, Family, Heortophobia, Holidays, Humor, Love, Missing Folks, Mom, Mom Stories, Peace, Taking Care of Each Other

Once in a While

Today would have been my mom’s 97th birthday.  She’s been gone a while now.

She was a singer in her twenties, well known locally for her smoky, sultry voice.  According to one version of my parents’ “how we met” story, Mom was performing when Dad fell in love.

This was one of her favorites.

Happy Birthday Mom!  I can still hear you singing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Cool people, Crazy family members, Family, Love, Missing Folks, Mom

Here We Go Again

When it happened, it was barely in the news.  I tried to write about it, but couldn’t.  I still can’t.  What more can be said that wasn’t said before.  The fact that it still happens says it all.

It could just as easily have been somebody I care about.  Or somebody you care about.

It WAS somebody named Jacob, which is eerie for me since I have a son named Jacob.

Another shooting of children.  Another death.  Another funeral.

If there was ever a way to fight back, though, to show that the guns don’t really win, this was the way to do it.  With superheroes.

Superheroes Gather To Mourn 6-Year-Old Boy Killed In Townville School Shooting

A young superhero is dead.  At his funeral, his mother encouraged everybody to come dressed as a superhero, because Jacob was a superhero and wanted to save people. It was a touching tribute to Jacob, and a wonderful, heartfelt gesture by his Mom.

His family, his community is devastated.  We are all diminished.

Because we do nothing.  Again and again and again.

Fucking guns.  Fucking second amendment.  FUCKING NRA.

Elections matter for a whole lot of things.

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