Monday, August 17, 2015

Crossings; with and without goodbye.

Where the hell have I been? Off the social media grid that's for sure, entrenched in real life.

At the end of May, my sweet dad fell ill and passed away a short time later. Ed was 90 and lived a very full life. Still, I can't help but wish for one more family gathering, one more backyard barbecue, one more time to clink my glass to his and hear him say, "Slainte."

When you’re the writer in the family, it’s clear you’ll be writing the obituary, memorial card, and eulogy of any family member who crosses over. Honoring a life in words is my final gift to them. Hopefully, I capture their spirit, do them justice, make them proud.

To say my dad was a character is an understatement. People were drawn to him because he was always upbeat and funny. Nearly 100 people turned out for his Celebration of Life gathering, not bad for someone who outlived many of his contemporaries.

When it became clear there was nothing more doctors could do and our beloved Fast Eddie was leaving us (dying of a rare disorder called Heyde's Syndrome related to his aortic stenosis) we decided to switch him to palliative care. 

Regardless of knowing a person’s ultimate wishes, it’s still a difficult decision to make on someone else’s behalf. But once they put dad on a morphine drip, there was no more agitation, no more pain, no more confusion. We all got to spend time with him, gathered around him in a beautiful suite looking out over the Diablo Valley, the place he and my mom made a home for us some 48 years ago. He knew we were there and could squeeze a hand though he was drifting between two worlds.

Still, my dad hung on longer than we anticipated considering how very done his body was. But Ed comes from pioneer stock and regardless of the circumstance, they just stoically keep going. At a certain point when it seemed he was determined to hang on regardless, I switched from telling him it was okay to go, that we would take care of mom, to sending him on a mission.

Camping, backpacking, and fishing had been a big part of my dad's life. So I told him he had to go ahead and make camp for us on the other side and we'd be along shortly.  Told him we wanted a spot near the water with lots of trees. That when each of us came through the woods into the clearing of our camp, we wanted to see him there in his camp chair—a fishing pole in his hand, drinking a beer and smoking a stogie—our dog, Inky, by his side.

I told him his folks had already set up camp there, along with plenty of friends and cousins so he'd better get going, 'cause we wanted a good spot and he needed to have the beer cold when we got there. I assured him everything on his life list had been checked off but he had one last chore: to get the hell outta that tired old body that wasn't him anymore and run like the wind.

Fast Eddie got busy and started leaving in earnest that afternoon. Later, as my brother, Terry, was holding his hand, dad's breathing shifted and we knew he was ready. It was a good crossing.

As sad and difficult as it was to lose a beloved parent, we all got to say goodbye, tell him how much we love him and what a great dad he'd been.

Just a few days ago, as Tom and I were sitting down to dinner, we got the call that a dear friend had passed away in her sleep early that morning. It was a devastating stab to the heart. Debbie was our neighbor, our loyal friend, our council, the unsung rescuer of so many stray souls, human and animal alike.

My dad had a good long life. We got to say goodbye and send him on his way with blessings. It's amazing what a difference that makes. I only wish we'd had the same opportunity with Debbie. So much left unsaid.

So there you have it; why my blog is more neglected than usual. Where my heart and soul have been, and where I continue to linger for now. 


I began this post on a long flight from SFO to Heathrow—"Crossing the Pond" as they say. I was fortunate enough to be able to meet Tom in the UK. He was out on tour with Y&T and had a week off in London. Disconnecting from life and work at home to wander about London and the Wales' countryside for a while was healing.

I’ll be back to social media after a bit, though I suspect in a more limited fashion. I just got clocked by a couple solid life blows that put me on the mat. But I’ll be up before the count of 10 and back in the ring slugging it out as a self-published author. I’ve got more stories and more fight left in me. My dad didn’t raise no quitter.

Until we connect again—make time to be with family and friends, say I love you, be kind to one other. No regrets.