Tom e-journal

Tommyjournal archive    May 2008

I'm impressed by the WhatTheFont?! server, even though it wasn't able to match the font I've used here for 2008:

N.B.: despite what they say, their system accepts images larger than "around 360 x 275 pixels". Discussions about my father's death have often touched on larger questions. A talk today with a merchant in town led to an exchange like this:

merchant:There must be some purpose to all this. I haven't figured out what it is. But we didn't just crawl out of the ocean.
Tommy:Yes we did.
merchant:No we didn't.
Tommy:Yes we did.
merchant:No we didn't.
Tommy:You're entitled to your opinion.

I think it's wild that life crawled out of the ocean. Some people, though, are never satisfied.

My life got better when I started thinking that this is it. In the pile of mail waiting for me when I got home was a voter info pamphlet for an upcoming local election. Excerpts of statements it included from candidates (for Superior Court Judge and County Supervisor, respectively):
I still change the oil in my own car.
Kathie [candidate's wife] is a member of the quilt guild, ...
After about 3040 miles (about 4890 km) of driving, I'm home.

You want to see pics from my trip, don't you.

WTF is a tactical vehicle?
WTF. I figured it applied to me; driving cross-country felt like being on a mission. (Pennsylvania)

fucking heathens
Graffiti, UIUC campus. (Illinois)

sculpture, Nebraska
Granite sculpture, at a highway rest area. (Nebraska)

Moonrise (not over Hernandez though)
Homage to Ansel Adams (heh). My truck looks puny next to one of the big guys. (Utah)

For all your cosmic ray needs. (Utah)

antler-encrusted gate
Gate bedecked with many, many antlers; higher-res version here. (Nevada) I've spent the past four weeks in what had been my father's house in New York. Just writing that sentence feels weird; when speaking about my father, thoughts still come to mind in the present tense. It's still sinking in that he isn't here.

It is strange and sad to be here without him. The past weeks here have been permeated with a sense of loss. Walking in the front door, I saw my father's jacket hanging where he'd left it.

I returned a pair of pants that he had bought just hours before he died. The day had started just like any Monday for him; he had carried a neighbor's garbage pail back to their house after the collection truck came.

The second parent's death feels different than the first. With both gone, I feel cut adrift. My brother reports a similar feeling.

I've been moved by how supportive people have been. Every expression of sympathy has been genuinely heart-warming.

Just about every day has had intense moments. I've broken the news of my father's death to a number of his friends who called to talk to him.

Quite a few people who I'd never met before have told me how much they liked my father. A neighbor in his early 20s told me he credits my dad with having gotten him to quit smoking. My dad's saying how much he missed my mom (who'd died from lung cancer) evidently did the trick.

To accommodate schedules of family members, the memorial service didn't happen until a couple weeks after my father's death. Waiting for the service was tough, and not just because I'm generally impatient by nature.

The memorial service included time for anyone who wanted to speak about my dad. I was reminded of how the experience of addressing a group of people has a different quality when everyone is paying close attention to what you're saying.

The service was held at a Methodist church (that my father had belonged to since 1949). I got the organist to play some pieces I like by Bach and Bartók. Yes: putting Bartók--who did not believe in an afterlife--on the program was subtly subversive on my part.

Today, I will load a rented truck with about 3000 pounds of tools, lumber, and furniture. Starting tomorrow, I'll drive home to California. I haven't blogged for a while because I've been coming to terms with the recent loss of my father.

He lived 94 years, had good quality of life right to the end, and died in his sleep. I'm fortunate that I got to spend six weeks with him recently, from Thanksgiving through New Year's.

I've been torn about blogging on the subject. These past days have been by turns sad, intense, mysterious and draining. Substantial subject matter is good blog material, yes? But when I've thought about how to approach the topic here, I've been at a loss. I feel as if whatever words I could come up with would fall short of what I'd like to say about my father and about what I've been feeling. I may have more to say with time; I'm just now getting to the point where I feel like writing about it at all.

For now, I'll just say that I'm grateful for all that my father did--and I'll quote from Dan Savage's recent blog eulogy for his mother:
In lieu of flowers, please send pictures of your boyfriends' rear ends. (Lesbians may send flowers.)

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