I have no right to be sad when I live at the beach, have some resources, and a life some people would look at with disdain–too self centered; and others with envy–self centered, beach, people to laugh with, a Manhattan Upper West Side apartment that if not mine is there for me when I want or need it.
Yet every year this time of year comes and kicks me in the tuchus with stunning strength and an alacrity I’m always shocked to feel.
I’m lonely; I miss my mommy, and my daddy too–though he will be gone 20 years this coming 3/31. Actually I miss him more than ever–and never know what to call death though that’s what it is to me. I can’t believe in passing to another life in another side but it sounds so inviting I would love to. I can’t believe in the big sleep and one day the Messiah will come though I will always identify myself as Jewish for reasons I have discussed too frequently.
My Mom–well Courting readers know too well how she fell 33 days after 9/11, lived for fifteen minutes while she cried into her Companion button that didn’t save her, she wanted to live.
I’m not John Gunther.
I can’t think of expressions like Death be not proud. hell I studied that book at least twice: once in elementary school or junior high, and then again high school, and really have no idea what the expression means. For death, something I was too familiar with at too young an age, has never lent itself to the grandeur in that statement.
I’m jealous. Of all of you who have lost loved ones in the blogging/facebook era. People, often strangers or semi-strangers, reach out to you with plaudits and condolences. I’m jealous but don’t begrudge you it. I love that mourning has become something people can do so openly and with so much companionship (tune “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” prepare to puke.)
I can’t help it. I belong to the sardonic life school. Because I’m so frigging nice which apparently is fashionable, I embrace irony to keep me from being the sucker I truly am—but I really don’t want to go there now. I don’t miss having kids or having a partner but either or both would have made life so much easier during both my parents deaths
You’ll never know what it’s like to take the LIRR alone (train from Great Neck to Manhattan) after planning your mother’s services with your sister and brother in law, not knowing what to do, and literally running into a crazy woman in what was Gristede’s that year. A large basement super market that never had people in it. I would go when I couldn’t deal with Fairway, Zabar’s, or even Citerella. Invariably it would change names every year.
It was famous for being in the Ansonia which is not only a famous apartment building, former home of Plato’s Retreat, now classy,pre-war, too ornate for my tastes but….and mostly famous in many circles for being the supermarket closest to the Ansonia Weight Watchers. The supermarket had all the right foods.
What do I do when I’m waiting for a funeral, and all my friends are mourning buildings? Rhetorical question. I become embittered and then try everything to lose the bitterness for I have always been called a “lady” when not being called other names.
Empathy flew out the city when my mother died. I don’t fixate on that; I have forgiven and moved on.
But damn last night in a rare sleepless night I realized exactly why I reacted so badly to a house fire, in another person’s home, that awaited me when I arrived home this past Monday 9/13.
The smell. It was the same once wonderful smell of smoke that wafted uptown into my apartment that week.
Obviously it’s something I will never forget. Scents are visceral; remembered long after memories are gone or the mind might be robbed of intellect. I wouldn’t want to forget. I only want to remember when I want to remember. Tomorrow (Friday night through Saturday evening–Yom Kippur, the traditional day of mourning.) I don’t believe in God, dislike organized religion yet view my Jewishness as a culture that has survived too many years of people trying to wipe it out.
I think I was a bitch when my mother died. Demanding. Scared, Unhappy. Trying to hang onto my youth though I was no longer young. Yet doesn’t a person have a right to be all that once or twice in a lifetime?
OK many other times. To be brutally honest menopause changed me into a much better person.
But I always gave 200% of myself and would have done anything for people that I loved and they knew that. I was too accepting of faults; would put up with things until I could no longer stand to be around the person and then end the friendship. Sometimes a friendship of many years.
I believed, and believe, in Karma. I was just going to say something and realized how critical the statement was of me and couldn’t say it. One thing I have learned in the past nine years is that it’s up to us to be kind to ourselves; that in this journey called life in educated America, we call the shots. I, and I alone, am responsible for me and my happiness. For you who have known me a half decade or a lifetime–that’s obviously much progress.
I try tricking the sad season into not coming each year, and each year I’m a bit more successful. I’m already not looking forward to 9/11/11 for I can imagine what Christine O’Donnell will do with it–she’ll probably make it into a tragedy that happened to her and people who don’t believe in masturbation alone.
I believe when people talk about wanting to forget they want to forget the polarization and politicizing. The event itself, it’s American history we all lived through. I would no sooner forget it than I would my mother’s death (bad example, I mean her life) or President Kennedy’s assassination though I will always see it through the eyes of a thirteen year old who thought herself much smarter than she was. Or maybe I was smart then and each year since have declined a bit–I waver on that. I blamed the assassination on me. It’s the first major event I remember taking responsibility for. It was President Kennedy’s first trip that I hadn’t been following. As I was involved in Unpopular Girl Eighth Grade Things. Oh how I wallowed in unpopularity. Wore it like a badge….Who knew that I would grow into an eighteen year old people (boys) would love to be with?
My mother did. She never lost faith. And my father thought I was the smartest kid who just had to try a bit harder–in every area of life. He thought me beautiful and managed to make me feel proud, embarrassed and sad all at once. For my beauty was always marred by my talking with my hands or being sloppy. Or something truly minor in the larger scheme of life but to him it was the world. So I have no perspective.
When I turned 25 we did have that rapprochement that allowed me to become the person he told his problems to. Though really those days began when I was 20. Things happened that made my father lose faith in life for a short while and my mother asked me to come home and be with him. I did because by coincidence I had been to a rally that put down middle aged white professional men. And I thought, “but I’m demonstrating against my father,” and I couldn’t be radical anymore though I could be anti-war and wanted equality for women etc.
Oh daddy, how you would have loved Mad Men. Peyton Place for another century. Actually they refer to Peyton Place. It’s almost too clever yet just right. Reminds me of the time we were visiting one of the Bob’s in London. They were two years behind and we gave plot summaries. That night was the first time you didn’t let me meet Mick Jagger 🙂 I do understand now, of course.
The character’s are like your friend/clients. The ones mommy disdained but entertained. Served them chopped liver and they kvelled over what they called pate. She smiled sweetly. Nobody knew how cutting she could be. How she could force me to re-examine my like or dislike of people, my ethics, my beliefs with just a few words chosen wisely
She wasn’t one to endure foolishness but some of these people actually paid daddy in a good year. Sometimes big time; sometimes–well I have an original oil painting and the romance book cover it graced. Sometimes daddy would insist the pot in his big time poker game go to whoever was starving or destitute or sick. How could you not love a man like that? A man of valor and great compassion. I miss his friendship as I miss hers. I was so blessed. Honestly few people ever have that opportunity.
My cousins Gena and Tina did. This past Saturday celebrating the life of their father was a wonderful experience. I do get a warm and fuzzy feeling when I think about it but know how hard it is for them to lose such a wonderful father. Our mothers, sisters in so many ways besides biological, did pick great men. Though their father won the sanity award hands down! And yes he knew how to make them feel good about themselves without lecturing on what they were doing wrong. (Please understand I forgave my father years before he apologized to me unbidden about two months before he died., suddenly of a stroke so it wasn’t a death bed apology. Or maybe it was. But the important part is that I had understood he couldn’t help himself and appreciated him for himself for a long long time.)
This post, meandering and woeful as it is, is dedicated to the memory of my Uncle Jack who read everything I wrote that was published or I blogged. It’s a bit harder to write knowing he won’t be reading. Though I should feel less censored, I don’t come from a family where people had to censor themselves and I thank ya’ll for that.
Someday I will have the sad season down to a science. Probably in another 20 years though I always next year! Or whatever is remaining of this season–less than a month to go!
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••Oh right, New York was never the same after 9/11. More beautiful than ever with incredible parks and the High Line–I have to download pictures–it’s the priciest most artificial place and I love it when I don’t hate it. But I blame Karl Rove for everything. So the shit I should eat–agreeing with him about O’Donnell is unbearable. Vote Democrat in November even if your candidate is Alvin Greene.
My brother in law’s father died at the end of June. Between Irving and Jack I have no older men left, in my life, and feel so strange
This post is raw and needs much editing. Yet I want it out as it epitomizes blogging as I knew it in the beginning. And makes me feel like Yes I Really Am A Blogger!