In Memory, In Ink

I have a friend named Quinn.  Ever since she was ten years old, she lost the ability to speak.  She got incredibly sick.  It was a disease that caused massive inflammation all over her body.  She nearly died.  A fever of 104, death nearly came for her but she came back from it.  Now she no longer has the ability to speak.  It’s been a very hard life for her.  You don’t really think about the value that the ability to speak has until you lose it.  So much of her life was hurt, and she has been trying to come back from it for as long as she could.

Through all of that, there was her incredibly supportive mother.  Even when she found out that her daughter was gay, and her father kicked her out of the house, her mother did everything she could to help her.  To the point that they ended up getting a nasty divorce because the mother hated the father for how he treated their daughter, which in turn translated into how well he treated her sister because she was the child he had always wanted.  Meanwhile, Quinn had her mother.  When she was really little, as I understand it, Quinn was a very talkative little kid.  Her mother called her “Chatty Monkey.”  It was with this in mind that when she died, Quinn had an idea for a tat.  But since she has no artistic talent, it just stayed as an idea, until now.  With the help of my dear friend Kathryn, it has finally come to fruition.  As it will when it is immortalized on Quinn’s skin forever.  One of three tats, all of which have great significance for her.

16901932_10155070158909111_1716337255_nThe monkey is to stand for the nickname that her mother had for her all her life.  The gun is because her mother was a crack-shot, most specifically with a revolver.  The smoke is because, the unfortunate truth is that her mother was a chimney.  You can extrapolate how she died based on that.  Woman went through a pack a day.  I try not to judge how people live, but as her coughing got worse, even Quinn felt terrible.  The woman left our state to go be in a warmer climate, and it did help.  But it only went so far.

A wonderful woman has passed away.  She left a legacy of a connection between mother and daughter that is unmatched, from a girl who life has been horribly unkind to.  How people keep their memories close.  Quinn is putting this memory on her hip.  So when you see this image, keep in mind the connection it symbolizes.  Let me know the connections that you have with people who have left your life and how you keep that alive in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“Death is not the greatest loss in life.  The greatest loss in life is what dies inside us while we live.” – Norman Cousins

Peace out,

Maverick

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A Hard Question

Another long day comes to an end.  I put Ellie to bed and now was settling in to watch some news before going to bed.  My days of being a journalism student in college still catch up to me.  The urge to keep informed about what is happening in the world.  Another Presidential election over.  The infotainment that is cable news has to find some new thing to milk into the ground with the fact-free reporting that they do.  The modern Fourth Estate is a joke.  I truly do believe in what it was supposed to represent, but now it is just a shadow of what the great journalists fought for.  When Edward R. Murrow took on Joseph McCarthy, when Walter Cronkite took on the government over the Vietnam War, when Ted Koppel took on the government over the Iran hostage crisis, they fought for what the news was supposed to mean.  But they were gone.  Sorry if I preached, but I still think about things like that, even now.
They said that becoming a dad would totally change me.  Sure, it changed my routine and how I look at the choices I make, but it didn’t magically turn me into a curmudgeon who is uber-conservative and believes that liberals are stupid.  I still believe the things that I believed then.  Only difference is that now I get to try and be the best dad that I can be while believing what I do.  I have taken a hard stance that I want to impart my values in a way where I give all sides their due.  I wasn’t going to teach my little girl what to think, but rather how to think, and let her come to her own conclusions.  Sure, it meant that for a while there, she believed that her deity was Santa Claus, but now she is at the top of her class and is the smartest child I have ever met.  Makes me wish she could see her.  I look at the pics on the wall, and my mind goes back.

I met her when I was in college.  The two of us immediately clicked.  Our weirdness meshed so well, and we were fast friends.  For a few years, life was good.  We would go out, have dinner, go to movies, see random things that happened in town that got both of our attention.  Was even dragged to a couple cultural festivals by the girl.  I was always a little apprehensive about going to things like that.  So different and random.  Really was my father’s son.  He hated new things, and would complain up to the point that he actually was there.  After that, once he was in the middle of whatever it was, he was enjoying himself.  Made for vacations where my mother would have to put up with him complaining all the way there, but I could tell that she knew that it would be worth it once he was there, just as excited as the rest of us.
One night, at a Japanese culture festival, the two of us were sitting and eating some noodles.  It was fantastic.  There was music playing and I didn’t want to be anywhere else.  That’s when I look over, wanting to say something to her, but she is already looking at me.  A look in her eyes, telling me that she had been looking at me for a while.  We just look into one-another’s eyes, and I don’t need to say anything else.  Her hand goes to my cheek, and I move in closer.  Each movement brings new rounds of butterflies inside that are driving me crazy, but I don’t stop.  Then our faces are so close.  When did this person who was nothing but a friend to me become something more?  I didn’t know, and I didn’t care.  Everything about this moment felt right.  Our lips met, in a soft embrace that I never wanted to end.  It was the first night that I felt like I was living since high school, where my last relationship ended.
It’s five years later.  We’re at the church that she grew up in.  I’m not a religious person, but she is.  I can put aside how I feel about it all, because this makes her and her family happy.  I’m saying “I do,” and tears are going down her face.  We embrace again, and everything is wonderful.
Two more years later, and we are pregnant.  She is so excited.  I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t scared out of my wits.  We both have good jobs.  Money isn’t something to be afraid of.  We made sure that we were ready before taking this step.  But even with all of that, I’m still scared to death.  What does it mean to be a dad?  Both of my parents have advice for me.  Hell, everyone has advice for me.  The entire fucking world is suddenly an expert on having children.  Not helping.  Not one bit.
We are sitting in a room, listening to a doctor.  She is telling us that my wife has cancer.  Due to the pregnancy, it is making her immune system weakened.  It just happened to come in at the right time.  My wife is scared for the baby, but the doctor said that it hasn’t gone to her reproductive system.  Facing her own mortality, the first thing she thinks about is the baby.  Admirable.  I wonder why.  I just want to save her.  The options we have are limited.  We can’t do chemo with the baby in there.  We’d kill it.  By the time the baby is done, it might be too late for more radical treatments.  It’s already in the second stage.  My wife is crying.  I think I am too.  Hard to tell.  My whole body feels numb.
It’s just after dawn when she goes into labor.  I get her to the car and drive like a bat out of hell to the hospital.  It’s not close.  She looks terrible.  The treatments for cancer that are safe, along with the progression are making her so sick.  So scared that delivering the baby will be dangerous.  Told her to do a c-section.  It’s safe, easy, and then it’s over.  She says no.  Wants to deliver this thing the normal way.  Stubborn woman.  Stupidly stubborn.  What’s the point of doing things that way if it’s an unnecessary risk?!
Being right never feels like a victory, for me.  I am watching as my baby is being wheeled away, while they get the crash cart.  Over and over, they attempt to restart her heart.  It doesn’t work.  Holding my newborn daughter in my arms, I watch my wife die.  What should be the most wonderful night of my life is when my heart is breaking.  I have so much that I have to do, only difference is that now I have to do it all on my own.  Never have I felt more alone.

My eyes open, as I see a light at the top of the stairs.  Down the stairs she comes.  Sitting up, I see that the TV had turned itself off due to inactivity.
“Dad, you up?” a voice calls.
“Yeah, in the living room.”
In her flannel pjs, I see the girl coming over.
“What’s wrong, sweetie?”
The look on her face, it’s concern, but awkward.  “I heard a noise, from down here.  I think you were talking in your sleep.  Heard you calling out to mom.”
A feeling of shame.  “Oh.  Sorry if I woke you.”
She sits down in a chair across from me on the couch.
“It’s okay.”  There is something more there.  “Can I, ask you something?”
Parent moment – she’s just shy of middle school.  The talk is coming.  Anytime I hear that question, I know that the big one is coming.
“Sure, kiddo.”
Looks down at the floor, then back up at me.  “Do you blame me, for happened to mom?”
It hurts.  I am physically hurting because of that question.  Not because it offends me or something, but because I have to wonder how long she has been carrying that question around in her head.  The girl was always eager to please, her whole life.  Anytime that I wasn’t at work, she would be where I am, doing whatever I do.  To this day, she still is like that.  Part of me thought that it was just a kid bonding with their parent, but maybe it was her trying to atone for what she feels like is her fault.  Maybe this is a talk I should have had with her a long time ago.
“Never!  What happened to your mother was not your fault.  Cancer can happen to anyone, at anytime.  Lady Luck just didn’t shine on her, is all.  It happens to all of us.”  Was that the right way to say it?
Tears started flowing down her face.  “I hear you, but you kept calling out to her, over and over.  You said, ‘don’t leave me.’  How can I not think that you don’t at least blame me a little for what happened to her?”
I motioned for her to sit down next to me.  “Now, don’t you go thinking that way!”  She got over and I put my arm around her.  “You coming into my life was the greatest day of my life.  Your mom was willing to risk getting sicker just so she wouldn’t have to put you in danger.  She told me that if the worst should happen, to promise that I would take care of you.  And I did.  With all my heart, I said that I would be the best dad that I could possibly be.  Not a day has gone by that I regret it.  Not one.  It was the hardest few months of my life, adjusting to taking care of you without her with me.  I needed a lot of help from grandma and grandpa.  But you are the greatest thing to ever come into my life.”  A gripping at my heart.  “And with you here, in a way, it’s like she never left us.  She’s with us both, right now, because you survived and are still here.  Never have I blamed you for what happened to her.  Not one time.  I miss her every day, but it’s not your fault.  Okay?”
All she could do is cry and burrow into me.  I held her close for a long time.  Then, I picked her up and carried her like a big cat upstairs.  Thank Groj I am such a big guy and have worked to take care of my body.  Hefted the big kid like she was nothing.  Laid her down on the bed and pulled the covers over her.
“Good night, baby-girl.”
“I love you, daddy.”
“I love you too.”
I don’t think there is a harder question in the world I could have been asked.  Suddenly, that other talk seems a hell of a lot easier.

Until next time, a quote,

“Grief is like an ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing.  Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming.  All we can do is learn to swim.” – Vicki Harrison

Peace out,

Maverick

A Smile for Father’s Day

Well, it’s another Father’s Day coming up.  And there’s something to know about my old man – he is unimaginably difficult to shop for.  What do you get the guy who has everything he wants and wants nothing else? (I want to put it out there that I acknowledge that being happy with what you have is a good character trait.  But it still makes holidays difficult.  So sue me) Here’s an example – when I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he said mousetraps.  Because it seems that my cat is not living up to her namesake and killing a mouse somewhere in the house.  That’s what he told me he wanted.  Now, I could have tried to be creative and really go the extra mile.  But you know what I did instead?  I got him the fucking mousetraps.  Okay, I wasn’t that much of a douche.  I included some candy with them.  But still, I got the guy exactly what he asked for.

Now, with Father’s Day on Sunday, I am at a loss again as to what to do?  I’m currently in crushing poverty due to joblessness, that he didn’t believe me when I said that I put in 4 to 10 applications/resumes per day.  If only I could show him what my Sent folder in my email looks like.  The family would know why I’m depressed.  But I can feel my luck changing.  Things are coming together.  I can feel it.  But I digress.  I’m at a loss again as to what to get the old-timer.  Didn’t even ask.  Partly because I am strapped in the extreme for cash (and being forced to ask for their help for that.  Don’t think that makes me proud for a moment) and partly because I knew that I would likely groan at the answer.  Or at least my mother would.  When she heard him say he wanted mousetraps for Christmas, her reaction was almost vocally-exact to what her mother said to her husband.  I swear, it was almost pitch-perfect.

So what am I going to do?  I thought long and hard, and I figured out what I’m going to give.  It’s the best gift I know how to give – a smile.  How will I do that?  With the written word.  Since I know the parentals read my site, they’ll come across this and hopefully they get a laugh.  I will retell an anecdote for you all, which will make you smile, and hopefully the memory of it makes him.  Here goes.

My father is a hunter.  Pretty good at it, too.  I watched one time where he shot a moose so perfectly that it did a backflip and died.  That was kind of amazing.  Good eating, too.  Unlike hunters who just want a head to mount on their wall, we eat what we catch.  Moose is awesome.  Best burgers in the world are made from it.  Man, I am the king of digressions tonight, aren’t I?

Anyway, it was one fateful night when he was out on the hunt.  Left the dog home.  He’s a giant lug, who has all the brain cells of marbles in a tin can.  Carefully stalking prey isn’t what the albino lab is made for.  Myself, the mother-unit, and the dog were doing whatever, when the mother calls me out to the living room.  I do so, and she tells me that he sent her a text, telling her that he’s on to something and coming our way.  Since the prey is likely to come by the house, the logical thing to do is get a rifle for her to shoot, if she gets a chance to finish the job.  Turns out, she gets that chance.  What happens next is just the first part of a wonderfully-hilarious night.

The rifle was a lever-action.  Cocking it should have been the easiest thing.  But did she?  Nope.  Why?  Because for reasons totally unknown, she couldn’t.  I got a laugh while this moose was literally right outside the door.  I should have grabbed the rifle and shot it myself.  I at least know how to cock a lever-action rifle.  But because my mother is incapable of doing so, the old man ended up shooting it.  And it didn’t drop.  It kept moving.  Moving to where, you might ask?  Into a giant grove of trees, that’s what.  A giant mess of old, dead trees that are rotting.  Getting in there was a mess.  It was late at night.  The sun was setting fast.  The light was very limited.  Which means that they had to work quickly.  The animal had to be skinned, gutted, and the vital meat components taken out and hung up.  We couldn’t leave it out there.

Working at night, someone had to have the honorable duty of holding the flash-light.  Believe it or not, but this is something the old man takes very seriously.  Something he apparently got from his father.  If you messed up with the light, that was not a good thing.  Guess who got to hold the light?  Me!  It was deemed my duty.  The parentals would skin and gut, while I held the light.  While the holding of the light is something that my old man takes very seriously, I am in insufferable smartass who is utterly-incapable of stopping myself from being such.  And we were out there for some time.

So what did I do?  I found a way to liven things up!  See, the parents are getting on in their years.  Old couples like the argue.  The parents do it all the time.  While the skinning and gutting of the moose was taking place, they were bickering almost non-stop.  So what did I do?  I found a way to make it into a joke.  I did my best David Attenborough impression and narrated their skinning and gutting as if in a nature documentary.  I was quite proud of myself.  The parents both looked like they wanted to strangle me.  But because I am quite good with voicework and my narrations were funny, they couldn’t bring themselves to stop me.  Who else was going to hold the light?

We ended up getting a crap-ton of moose meat.  It was a good night.  But the thing to take away from this is – if my mother had been able to cock a lever-action rifle, none of that would have happened.  But where’s the fun in that?  To this day, whenever something ridiculous is going on at my house (you wouldn’t BELIEVE how often that happens) I decide to take up the smartass tradition of narrating.

And that’s the Father’s Day story.  None of this happened on Father’s Day, mind you.  But it’s just a story to make people smile.  Hopefully that worked.

Until next time, a quote,

“Here we see the two hunter, stuck in a natural hazard, trying to quickly skin their catch while the light fades.  The hunters do not work well together, and thus there is tension in the group.”  -Lucien Maverick

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: F*ck Disney and Star Wars, In Memory of 1313

For those of you who didn’t know, before Disney bought and bastardized Star Wars by making everything family-friendly, there was a game that was announced that looked fucking amazing.  It was a game about a young Boba Fett, where you followed him on some unknown job to sub-level 1313 on the capital of the Empire (at least I think it’s the Empire by the time of that game).  It was a game that took the mechanics from Uncharted and translated them to outer space.  Did it bother me that this game was basically a direct rif with different weapons of another game?  Fuck no!  Watch this demo and tell me if it bothers you.

Did that not look like the most awesome thing ever?!  Did you not want to see that?!  After how bad Lucasarts games had been, this was almost a breath of fresh air.  You had these fun characters.  You had a great design.  The gameplay looked smooth enough.  I will say that the physical fighting was much less impressive than the games it was riffing off of, but still.  I would have played that until the cows came home.  Especially if there were the hidden collectibles that the Uncharted franchise has.  Let me collect and analyze stuff from the Star Wars universe!  Let me get to know this character who has such a huge cult following, even though he did nothing cool in any of the original films.  His character got so popular that he became a complete boss outside of the main films.  Hell, the prequel films sucked, but then you get Cartoon Network’s series: The Clone Wars.  And in that, we also had a badass Boba Fett.  It’s weird.

Then Disney decided to buy the franchise.  And what happens when they buy something – they make it family friendly.  Cartoon Network’s series?  Gone.  A dark and serious war series (that was getting really grim by the end), that’s not family-friendly.  Now they have this bullshit “Rebels” series, which just retcons the history that Star Wars: Force Unleashed set up.  Oh, wait, they are choosing to ignore the Expanded Universe.  Of course.  And this amazing-looking game died with it.

This is what Disney does.  See, they are an evil corporation that doesn’t give a fuck about creating good content.  They want to make money.  The newest Star Wars film was proof of this.  Unpopular opinion: I think the new film was boring.  It was a movie I had already seen before.  The effects were better, and the new Death Star could blow up lots of planets instead of just one.  But the plot was almost beat-for-beat.  I was bored.  If only that film had had the guts to do something moderately-original.  Like you know what would have been cool – if the “Resistance” had lost the battle.  Like they are doing so well, and then fail.  That would have been a nice change.  And would have gone well with the deal with Han Solo being killed (I’d say spoiler alert, but come one, you’ve already seen it).  A grim first act would have set the stage nicely.

Disney can’t just let a good thing be a good thing.  They took their marvelous animated film, Fantasia, and turned it into a piece-of-shit Kinect title.  Pixar has become a shell of what it used to be.  The Marvel movies are getting REALLY boring.  There’s a reason that Deadpool was such a breath of fresh air to superhero films.  These movies are getting boring and predictable.  I liked Guardians of the Galaxy, but even I will admit how consistent that film is to the superhero formula.  The difference is that it was funny enough for that to work.

Maybe this is just me getting older and my inner child dying, but I feel like I am gradually losing the ability to let this slip past me.  My favorite comic book films this year is the one about the merc with the mouth, the superheroes fighting each other, and a group of villains saving the day.  That’s how sad this is getting.  Meanwhile, stuff that is original and interesting gets cut off because Disney doesn’t want to risk that their squeaky-clean family image might get damaged by a video game where you have swearing in the Star Wars universe.  Oh no!

Though maybe, since people still buy into this garbage, Boba Fett said it best.

Until next time, a quote,

“Fresh air is overrated.”  – Boba Fett, Star Wars 1313

Peace out,

Maverick

What I’m Thankful For (2015)

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.  I mean that.  I might be an insensitive ass at times, but I’d like to think that my empathy muscles still work.  At least a little.  This has been a really rough year, for me.  Everything started going so well, then eventually ended up sliding off a fucking cliff right at the worst time.  That’s how it is, with me.  Things go great, then it all goes to shit.  All at once.  Always in the absolute worst possible way.  I suppose this is going to be one of those posts that gets all personal.  I know that people hate those.  But I guess I’ll let you see behind the veil of my persona, so you all can see why I’m thankful for what I am thankful for, this year.

As I said, this has been a really rough year.  Things keep going from bad to perpetually worse.  It never stops.  It never gets better.  It always gets worse.  I’m about to start a new job soon.  One that is really the dream job.  No joke, it still feels like a dream.  And will until I actually start, soon.  Can’t be soon enough.  Been living the way I am for too damn long.  It’ll be nice to finally not be afraid of my bills.  This new job is a HUGE responsibility, and I am a little scared of it, but this company seems so nice and outgoing.  Given how cynical I’ve become, maybe it is on me that I constantly question people’s motives.  Can you blame me?  Given my history, I have seen how people really are.  All that aspiration of goodness that people talk about, it’s all bullshit.  Underneath all their talks of goodness, people are just users, looking to use and throw people away.

My personal life is falling apart.  I am hemorrhaging connections left and right.  I have tried so fucking hard to hold things together.  Maybe that’s just making it worse.  I don’t know.  Whatever the case, my personal life is on life support.  My ex had talked about the two of us giving it another shot.  This was when I had this great job, and things were looking to work out for me.  Then, I am at work one morning and I get a Dear John text.  A text.  The little bitch couldn’t even say it to my face.  She had to use a text to throw all the time that we spent together in the trash.  All the years that our friendship grew and meant something.  All that caring, and what it amounted to was a Dear John text.  Telling me that she didn’t want to be with me because of the fact that I have depression and she doesn’t want to be around that.  Never mind when we were living together, and things were good!  They were so good!  It didn’t end on that high a note, but things are fucking awesome, for a while there!  Something that I could have conveyed to her, if she had actually taken the time to have an actual discussion with me.  I know, novel concept.

After getting the text, I get home to discover that she has excised herself from my life completely.  Unfriended, untagged from the pics we took together.  Completely having left in every single way.  This person basically found all the years of time and companionship that we had and made sure that every piece of it was gone.  Shows you how much my company mattered.  Shows how much it matters to anyone, doesn’t it?

My friend life isn’t doing any better.  Met a new and interesting person.  Thought that a connection was forged.  Dead.  Person after person, either the connections are fraying to the point of breaking, or have broken already.  The few connections I have, the precious few, at this point, I am no longer hoping for great things.

Through it all, there has been one thing that has been true and loyal – family.  I don’t give my family nearly enough credit, but if there is one lesson that I have learned and kept with me throughout my entire life, it’s this – family is sacrosanct.  Family comes first.  Family always stands by family, Hell or high water.  My parents in-particular.  I’ve asked a lot from them this year.  I’ll be asking for one more last favor, and I swear to Groj that that will be the very last.  I don’t like asking for help, and believe me when I say that couldn’t appreciate them more now than ever.

Things with the parents have been…awkward, through the years.  Me and my old man have always been chill.  Like two roomies just shooting the shit.  That worked for us.  I’ve never complained.  Never will.  It’s fun, when we can laugh at some stupidity.  I’m sure that the old guy finds a lot of my obsessions very odd.  Salt of the earth type.  Worked laying block for almost all my life, and I’m certain far longer.  Did a number on him, over the years.  But he’s tough as nails because of it.  In the best shape of the family.  But I’m getting better.  Being poor is helping.  Having trouble losing weight?  Ask your doctor if poverty is right for you!  Poverty and a Costco membership.  No joke, for the poor college grad, a Costco card is the best friend you are ever going to have.  That and regular exercise.  I don’t hit the gym.  I go on long walks around the hospital that I live by.  To the point that the ambulence drivers wave when they see me.  Yeah, I’m that predictable.  But I digress.  Wow, really got off-topic.  Holy crap.

With my mother, things are a little more complicated.  Or at least, they were.  Now it has gotten a lot better.  See, the thing that me and the mum have had a rocky few years.  It was the first few years in college.  The dynamic between the two of us was getting rocky.  The parent and kid thing gets a little trickier as people get older.  You can’t keep treating your parent the way you did when you were young.  You aren’t a little kid anymore.  Now you have to be a little different.  The mum and I took some time to figure that out.  But we eventually did.  For a time, things between us were really, really bad.  However, we then found the dynamic that worked for me and the father-unit, and now things are pretty alright.

But the point of this tangential writing is – if you remember nothing else in life, and this isn’t true for everyone, remember that friends and lovers will come and go.  Family is the thing that stands by you when things are at their worst.  It is the thing that will be there when no options remain.  That is the thing that I am most thankful for today.  I am thankful for a family that has instilled me with this value.  To stand by your people, no matter what.  Granted, my people is a very short and continuously-shrinking list, but it is still a value I mean to uphold.

Now, as I am preparing to go to my aunt’s for Thanksgiving Dinner (here’s hoping I don’t die on the way.  The roads are icy as fuck here in the great white north), I think to the people in my life whom have been and gone.  Those who no longer have a place here.  I think to my cousin Griffin.  I think to Emily.  I think about my ex.  That last one I hate with a bitter passion, but I think about her all the same.  I think about a lot of people.  My oldest friend, wherever she is.  Are they happy?  Are they mad?  Do they hate me?  I doubt I’ll ever know the answers to these questions, but I ask all the same.  I’ll never know the answer, but some part of me, the part that doesn’t hate everyone, hope that they are okay.  Except my ex.  Fuck her.  A Dear John text.  It’s like the pinnacle of not caring.  To have to give me a hand-wave with a text.  Whatever.

In the back of my mind, there is always this thought that I am going to wind up alone, one day.  I have a lonely apartment, and a lonely fridge, and a lonely chair that is in front of my awesome TV, that I use to watch movies and play games.  I’m not a good-looking man.  A giant, but that doesn’t help.  I’m getting progressively more like the giants in Game of Thrones, with my rapidly-balding head and unappealing features.  So marriage and love are off the table.  I have been grateful for the connections that I have.  I hope that the girls I’ve run with are alright.  None of them talk to me anymore.  I bet that none of them even know I exist.  I’m easy to forget as well.  Another thing about me.

What it all comes down to – family is there for you.  Always.  Don’t lose sight of that.

Until next time, a quote,

“Get to know your parents.  You never know when they’ll be gone for good.”  – Baz Luhrmann, Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen

Peace out,

Maverick

An Ode to Fabio

Woe be the nickname I hath stricken you with
Thine art heard it before knowing who it referred to
In the moving picture with the little fish who was lost
Thine hath been flattered by the comparison
However unfitting though it may be

Thou art the leader of thine family
Strong and noble in thou actions
Be it hunting the wild moose, or flaw in the smoking carriage
Thou hath done many things
Most of which are rather impress, though some…not so much

Verily I say, the patriarch has been a proud teacher
Whether it be the endless spiel about safety in smoking carriages
Or safety in the smoking sled
Thou art’s wisdom lingers with us, and shall until the end of our days
Lest we end up a carriage driver like the Mother, Spirits forbid

Many adventure into faraway lands, thou hast undertaken
Whether it be the island paradise of Kona, or the wet beaches of Seward
Thou hast conquered the mighty salmon!
Many times over
Bringing home a banquet to feed thine family

Wherever thou travels, he does not go alone
Indeed, there is a large white hound who follows
Never far from his master, the loyal mutt goes
He even layeth upon thine lap when thou watches moving pictures
A privilege that was unheard of, in your younger years

Thou takes great comfort in the moving pictures
But there be-ith a man whom you take great offense
He speaks of weather, in a way you find unsatisfactory
Yet thy son finds him quite knowledgeable.
Woe be this dichotomy in the home!

In the future, thou plans to rest from employment
Verily, the wife hopes that thou art find other things to do
Lest you get up in her business and she doth strike you, roughly
Unto thine retirement, good fortunes be
Tho, in all seriousness, do find things to keep thou busy

Thine does not like the son’s cat
Thou art not give her enough attention
Nor the wife
It must be constant
For she is a cat

Yet, in this year of our Lloyd, let us reflect on thine accomplishments
Thou art built a three-story home!
Almost by oneself!
Thou art had two children
One smarmy and charming and writing this Ode

And yet, as the year continues, let us hope for better things
That thou will find peace and contentment
Tho, as is more likely, thou art shall complain about all the things that need doing
Because it’s not as if you have plenty of time
Like, all that retirement time

With that in mind, we say – a happy fatherly day to you, man with the nickname – Fabio
And to all the other fathers, may yours be good as well
But not as good as his
Just saying, he has seniority

Until next time, a quote,

“Ask me no questions, and I’ll tell you no fibs.”  – Oliver Goldsmith

Peace out,

Maverick

In Memory of Ellis and Betty White

Ellis and Betty (right and center-bottom) with Patty and Frank Merrigan (left and center-top)

Ellis and Betty (right and center-bottom) with Patty and Frank Merrigan (left and center-top)

Man, I don’t even know how to start this.  How do you start talking about the lives of two people who have affected so many? How can you begin to explain the emotional attachments that they formed over the course of their long and happy lives?  This is genuinely the most difficult In Memory I’ve had to do, to date. It will probably be the most difficult one I will ever have to do, until…well, I think we all know who that will be.  My grandmother, Betty White (not the actress, although I have joked with her about sharing the name with her), passed away this morning.  I’ve been pondering, for hours, on how to write about this.  It’s unfathomably difficult.  See, my grandpa, Ellis White, passed away before I was doing this.  Now, I thought that I would do this for both of them.  I may not believe in an afterlife, consciously, but there is still a comfort that comes from believing that two people who have been apart for a little while are now reunited.  There’s so much to talk about.  Bear with me.  I’m doing this while a lot of emotional dust is getting stirred up.  Don’t know how long to get it done.  These two people, Ellis and Betty, led a life that shaped a community.  They won’t be remembered by all America, but an entire generation of people in this part of the world that my folks still live in remember.  But I suppose I’m getting ahead of myself.

Ellis and Betty white didn’t originally live in Alaska.  They came up here from South Dakota.  When they first came up here, they lived in Anchorage.  They set up a house on Raspberry Lane.  My granddad owned a gas station, and they lived pretty alright.  Well enough that they eventually came to live in Wasilla.  They homesteaded out here, buying a pretty sizable chunk of property.  From there, they became part of the web of life out in Knik.  Back when it was all people homesteading.  They were here.  Something that

Betty and the kids

Betty and the kids

people don’t know is that Betty lived out in the Homestead on her own, most of the time.  Ellis had to work in Anchorage, to put food on the table.  But she wasn’t living here alone.

The two of them had five children.  The oldest was Kathy.  Then there was Dick (his name is Richard, but most everyone calls him Dick.  Always have), Scott and Jim.  The last was the youngest of the family – Sally.  She just happens to be my mother.  Funny how that works, right? (Just kidding.  Sort of) Five kids, four of whom were absolute hellions, but the telling of some stories around the campfire (I’m lookin’ at you, White Man!).  Betty had to raise them, for the most part, by herself.  But don’t you go thinking that she was some pushover.  Oh no!  When Betty got mad, that woman meant business!  You were getting an ass-whoopin’, you better believe it!  She had to deal with the homesteading life and raise five kids, she was a tough old gal.  They just don’t make them like that anymore.

But her toughness was directly tied in to how much she loved her kids.  See, Betty had to deal with a lot of stuff.  The foremost was her son Scott.  I barely got to know him.  I hardly remember anything from before my head injury, but I barely knew him before that.  The last time I saw him was when I was around five.  He had some problems.  Scott was gay.  He wrestled with that in a time and a state where that lifestyle was beyond frowned-upon.  It was part of the reason that he ended up having a severe substance abuse problem.  I’m talking the hard stuff.  This substance abuse, along with some mental problems, eventually lead to his death, many years ago.  Betty had had to deal with that for a long time, and she was able to keep her composure.  I have no doubt that it was hard on her.  I can’t even imagine.  But she carried on.

The connection to family that Ellis and Betty had was profound.  See, a ton of their family ended up living up here.  The foremost was the Merrigans.  Betty and Patty were two peas DSCN0153in a pod.  There are so many stories about the two of them arguing for a LONG time about who would pay when they would be out eating.  The two of them were tough women, both of whom had their fair share of problems, but were made stronger because of it.  And that tight bond led to two families being close in a way that most singular families aren’t.  But don’t think that their ties to family only went to the extended one.

Betty and Ellis were very close to their own family.  There are pictures out there of them sitting with their grandkids, back when we were babies.  They would love to see their grandkids.  Thankfully, because they lived on a lake and were down the road from a large chunk of them, they got to do this rather often.  I always got the impression that this was a happy thing, for them.  They also liked to travel with their family.  There are fond memories of time spent in Seward, with them in their ancient-ass motorhome and me and my family in the camper on  the back of the old man’s truck.  You ever see the vehicles that the family drove around, we looked like the Clampetts, sometimes.  The Clampetts go to Seward!  But they never mind.

Indeed, traveling was something that the two loved to do.  There are so many stories of the many trips that they took.  They could have told you, for hours, about how many times they had gone to all sorts of places across the country.  But I like to think that their trips to Seward, fishing with members of the family, was their favorite.  Or at least Ellis’ favorite.  He loved his old boat.  It was a pretty small craft, but I have vague memories of him sitting in his chair, fishing pole in the little holster on the side, looking peachy as can be.  Maybe I’m wrong.  We do color history with our own perspective, don’t we?  I admit that mine is less colored than most.  After all, with my head injury, most of my memories before my head injury were mush.

Homesteading Ruggedness!

Homesteading Ruggedness!

And the two weren’t just big on helping their family.  They were tight with the old community of both Knik and Wasilla.  The two of them were among the ones who started the Wasilla Food Pantry, at Good Shepard Lutheran Church.  That’s the place that I grew up attending.  Nice people, there.  Unlike some people, I left religion on good terms, due to how I grew up in a church filled with pretty nice people.  It’s going to be hard, seeing how hard it is on them, when I am there for the service next weekend.

There are so many people who could tell you so many stories about Ellis and Betty.  So many people who have stories that are just bursting about their interactions with those two people.  They lived a life that was fuller and more enriched than almost any of us are going to have.  Part of me wishes that I had taken the old journalist approach and cataloged all the stories that they had, from as many people as I could.  I know that the White Man has a thousand and one stories to tell.  Although, with him, you gotta take it with a grain of salt.  He’s the king of bullshit.  To live a life and touch the lives of so many.  It’s a little overwhelming.  How can I give those two the credit they so rightly deserve about a life that they lived that was so full?  I’m still debating this.  I’ve given you all pockets of knowledge, but it goes so much farther.  How can I do justice to a life like that?  It’s too much.  As I sit here, Chris Botti playing in the background, I am so uncertain.  Maybe I should have waited a few days, to collect my thoughts.  But you know, this felt right.  It felt right to talk about this now, when it is fresh on my mind and I can think of the most to say.

Still, I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the lives they shaped and all the memories they share.  Now, I won’t claim that my grandma and I were the best of friends.  We had our disagreements, and those were sometimes very unpleasant.  But you know, I don’t hold on to stuff like that.  Especially now.  Old disagreements fall by the waist-side, and we think back to the good memories.  Memories of days gone by, that make me lament for a history that I barely remember, where things were so much easier, and I didn’t have to be scared about everything the way I am now.

I also know that, writing this, it is going to give a lot of people pain.  I do hope that, eventually, this helps people more than it hurts.  I hope that this post can inspire good memories, not sad thoughts.  I mean that, from the bottom of my little black heart.  I hope that each and every one of you can have good memories in your own lives, of the people you know who have touched you so much.  To any family or friends of the two who end up reading this, feel free to share a story in the comments section.  Like I said, I haven’t even been able to touch on how many stories there are.

And to Ellis and Betty, I hope that, wherever you are, you are happy.  Your suffering is done.  Age and pain can’t touch you anymore.  That long good night has given you both the peace that you had a fair amount of in life.  A service is going to be held at Good Shepard Lutheran Church.  You are going to be missed, by so many people.  It is with that in mind, that I am going to share a quote that is of great significance to me, to end this.

Until next time, a quote,

“This may not make much sense to you now, a young man at the beginning of his career, but one of the things you learn as you move up the ranks and get a little older is that you wish you had more time in your youth to really absorb the things that happened to you. It goes by so fast. It’s so easy to become jaded. To treat the extraordinary like just another day at the office. But sometimes, there are experiences that transcend all that.” -Capt. Katherine Janeway, Star Trek: Voyager

Peace out,

Maverick