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Location: Midwest, United States

"Power lines, my travlin' partner on this ride. Dripping, pulling - up and down, in this sing song, their lullaby blends with the swaying train. I curl myself into this journey; folding myself up into this pocket of time. Old familiars greet me - that swing set in the back yard, the ruins of an old church covered in new birth and old - mixed with unremembered newness." Journal Entry, October 13, 2005~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~All words are copyrighted by GoGo on a Page/gogoroku.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

"we'll i ain't got no more bull shit to feed you": in memory of

I’m listening to this new CD, Chris Bathgate - Throatsleep. Well, it’s been with me for a few weeks but I like to absorb my music, so this is the first time I have popped it into the CD player. I only mention the artist and album title in case there are other folks out there who appreciate random finds now and again. I know I do. In fact, I only knew about this artist because a friend of mine introduced me to his music.

This is where I want to become concise in my ramble on this page. I want to mention that there is a song on this album that I have heard before. I want to talk about how this wonderful/insightful/artistic and talented friend makes me road trip CDs when I travel and how Chris was on a few of the compilations I’ve received. I want to talk about how it was great to see him perform live a few weeks ago and get a slew of albums from him – to pass along and share. I want to share about how this friend, who introduced me to his music, makes the best compilations and her attentiveness to the song list never escapes me. That hearing the song tonight, spurred memories of being on the road and how the music she shared accentuated the trips. Finally, I want to mention one road trip, when I was first introduced to C.B, and the journey itself because out of all the things I want to mention - it is this memory I want to put to page. AND A BIG THANK YOU TO kp, in case you come by this way again. And thank you for telling me you read my page.

The Memory: "love ya, kiddo"

The memory was of driving down route 9 to my grandfather’s funeral. It was an expected death that happened at an unexpected moment. I was working two jobs, trying to taper off the travel gig while preparing for graduate school the following fall.

What do I remember?

I remember the death happened during a very busy week for me. The funeral itself felt like a day off since I was working 7 days a week at that point. Getting the call from my parents that Grandpa Ray had died was the unexpected part. A month or so earlier, I had called him during a hard period in his life. Treatments were sketchy and the docs thought he wouldn’t pull through. It was the last conversation he and I would have, though a week later he had a sudden turn for the better and prognosis was good. We all expected him to pass on at some point, but at his death everyone thought he was in a good phase. His death was sudden without lingering insult or pain.

To back up to the last conversation we had, I cannot think of a better last dialogued shared. My grandfather was my nomadic storyteller. He taught me to how to read palms and appreciate a funny story. Tried to get me to chew, but that’s a story on its own. He taught me a good laugh comes from the belly and that a stagnated soul dies earlier than the body does. Our last words shared were simple ones. I told him about getting into graduate school and he was the first family member to tell me congratulation and how proud he was of me. Ray told me about his prognosis and how he had no intention of letting "those docs" predict his death. He said he would walk out of that hospital and he did, even though those docs expected him to die before the end of the week.

Ray told me he was gonna pick a day to die when no one was looking for his death, and he did just that. His last words, you know those valuable monologues we yearn for and cling to in movies, plays, and in our personal worlds, that echo in our ears for years to come, were as cherished to me as the experiences I shared with him. On his memorial card at the funeral, I wrote those words:

"Well, I ain’t got no more bull shit to feed you. Love ya Kiddo."

Driving down Route 9 to Cemetery Street where the funeral was held, a block a way from his home, those words rolled off my silent tongue channeling his voice. Even now, I can hear his voice and his laugh. The music played and my mind went wondering down all the memories of him. I practiced the words I would say at the service during his eulogy. It was my intention to share stories of him that he told to us over and over again, that made us laugh more from his own contagious laughter then the retelling of the story. I wanted everyone to know his last words to me because they were the epitome of his essence.

In the car on the way down, I didn’t feel sad for his death, though knew he was someone I would mourn. Not a sad mourning of loss and regret, but like an Irish wake I knew I would mourn with the recanting of his memory and stories he shared. I realized he was the inspiration behind my own need to be a good storyteller and my attraction to a good laugh. Being a person who has distanced herself from her family, in order to become the best of them and not the worst, Ray’s death brought me face to face with everyone in my family as I was at that moment. To honor him, I wanted to present myself as the better part in all of us, but scared I’d get lost in old ways and habits where there was no I in the situation. On that drive down, as I remembered him, I was happy to know the better parts of me included him, including the storyteller and laughter.

When I stood in front of my family at the memorial service, I took on the role of canter and retold his story. We laughed together and his last words told to me became something that belonged to everyone.

This is the memory spurred by a song. That old travel music for that particular drive has become the soundtrack for that moment and that memory...and a few more, but that’s another story. And if I had any wrap up to this ramble, I would say that life is a layered thing.

Embrace those layers.

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Blogger BendingPeak said...

You are so great at telling stories and making the reader (ME) 'feel' like I am right there with you.
I am also glad that you have found some new music. I am always in search of something that will spark a memory inside.
Hope you feel better.

12:09 AM, October 08, 2006  
Blogger getalife said...

What a wonderful lesson to pass on. Thanks to you both!

10:24 PM, October 22, 2006  

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