As Christmas day nears, it nears the time when, last year, I got the call that Georg was in the hospital in Florida with a blood clot. I don’t know how I got this information. Not directly from Dad. He apparently lost his cell phone upon admittance to Aventura Hospital near Hallendale, FL, where he had just set up shop to fulfill his dream of a “winter studio.” He was not the one who called me. But someone did. Illia. It must have been my sister, Illia. But who told her? I don’t know. Everything is a blur surrounding those days last Christmas when Illia and I determined we had to go down there and check on Georg. Actually, truth be known, it was Illia who determined we had to go. My first reaction to her suggestion was: on my Christmas break? Seriously? I did not really want to be bothered. I guess this is an indication of how selfish I can be at times.
But, I went. We went. We assessed Georg’s situation (alone in Florida, poor health, limited funds) and we convinced him he really ought to move up to Sheboygan and live near me. We stayed in his furnished condo with the cool mermaid lamp in the bedroom, and we closed the place up. My brother-in-law, Stephan, went down there a couple weeks later to get Dad’s ‘97 Ford truck and all the items that Georg had carted down from Hamtramck: some boxes of art work, some files, a few articles of clothing. While in Florida, Georg had bought himself a very large flat-screen HDTV. I don’t know the inches. I don’t pay attention to televisions. I hate televisions. But Stephan packed it all up and brought it home to Georg in Sheboygan. The truck broke down in Pensacola. Stephan had stopped off at his folks’ house to rest and gear up for the drive north. The truck needed a new catalytic converter. Done.
Late December and early January is all a blur. Honestly, the whole year of 2013 is a blur to me. Did it happen? Did it really happen? Did Dad really break his hip in May? Did he really not drive or cook the whole last nine months of his life? What if he had not gone off his Warfarin (blood-thinner) sometime in the fall of 2012? What if he had not driven down to Florida twice in four weeks? That much driving would tax even a young, healthy person. What if he had stayed in Hamtramck? What if he had not spent several years living in a studio/warehouse with airborne dust of dubious nature and lack of heat? What if? What if? Would he not have died? Is that what I am suggesting? How far back do I have to go to find a turning point that would have halted his death?
Hey. Vihos. The only way a person can not die is if he or she is never born. You cannot deter death. All you can do (cue the cliché violins now, please) is live your life to the fullest while you are alive. C’mon. Just a couple days ago, weren’t you the one harping on how important it is to do everything 110% percent. Really? Do you ever listen to the things you say? Do you really give life your all?
You seem to spend a lot of time complaining about what you DON’T have (a man to love you, lots of money, several published collections of poems, a vacation home in Southern France, etc. etc.) and not enough time on what you do have (a beating heart, a great son, a cozy little home, food in your fridge, a stimulating job, friends, family, money enough to pay your bills, poetry, this blog for crissakes.) I mean. Seriously. Stop your belly achin’ and get on with living the life that you have created. And if you don’t like what you have created, then create something else, please. Don’t sit there and kvetch.
So what if you lost a brand new crystal earring while walking the dog in the snow last night? So what if you knew this might happen but you assured yourself as you left the house that it would not and so you wore the earrings anyway? So what if you inadvertently did not clasp the earring properly and it fell out of your ear? You traced your entire dog- walking journey with a flash light three times. You tried to find it. This pretty pair of earrings cost you a mere $42. If you really want those earrings so badly, go buy another pair. Or make the lone earring into a necklace. The earring is gone. Accept it. Georg is gone. Accept. It. The earring can be replaced. Alas, Georg cannot.
And yet, you are still here. For now. This, you can also accept. You can actually revel in it and make it fun, you know. But YOU have to do it. No person, no thing, no food, no music, no god, no angel, no rhyme, no reason…None of this will do it for you.
You have to do it yourself. No one tells you this. Or rather, no one CAN tell you this and be effective. You can read about it all you want. All this crap about self-sufficiency and “loving yourself.” This self-focus is not self-ISH. It is simply what is required to be a productive and happy human. But until you do it, embrace, and goddammit, LOVE it, you will always find yourself wanting. You will always feel “less than.” So yeah. Learn the damn lesson Vihos and get over yourself.
Move forward. You can take baby steps. Just make them go forward. Not backwards toward old patterns and useless internal tapes. THROW OUT the old tapes. A new year is starting. The first year without your father. Yes. You said it. WITHOUT YOUR FATHER. You can do this. I know you can. Georg knows you can. Everyone pretty much knows you can, except you.
What if you were never born?
You would not die.
But, you would not live either.
8 thoughts on “What If?”
“Throw out the old tapes!” What a great reminder for the new year. I loved this piece – made me cry — and it made me excited for a new year ahead. It’s up to me to enjoy it.
Lisa, you are one of the wisest people i know.
Diane, this means an awful lot to me, coming from you. Thank you for reading the blog. I’m glad to know you are finding it interesting. Okay, and wise. I don’t feel very wise, but I appreciate you saying it.
Lisa, the “on my break?” thought isn’t selfish — it’s human. I am having a very similar thought right now. I just got home from a long trip today, and I have exactly one day at home before I’m due at the family Christmas celebration. I want to stay home to relax, recover, and spend some quality time getting reacquainted with my couch. But, the celebration means a lot to my family. (And to me, let’s be honest — the timing is just bad this year.) It could be my grandma’s last Christmas. And I’ll be glad I went once i get there. That’s human too — to push through, do the things we don’t want to do, and appreciate their necessity later (sometimes much later). What’s awesome is that you’re able to acknowledge this uncomfortable bits of humanity and deal with them head-on. Good for you.
Um…”these” instead of “this,” please. It’s 2:30 a.m., I’ve been awake for approaching 38 hours, and my proofreading skills are not the best right now.
Hey, Signe, you are human. Thank you for reading and sharing your humanness with me. Have a great time with the fam. Like you said, you will be glad you went, once you get there. Give your grandma lots of hugs and make sure to pay her some extra attention. I don’t need to tell you these things. You know exactly what to do. See you soon.