Tag Archives: death

Happy Birthday, Dad!

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Eighty-four years ago a man was born in Flushing, New York. He married young, at age 22, fresh out of the Air Force, with a promising career as a civil engineer. But with the first child born, and then twins right after, that dream was dashed.

This man was my father, who died six years ago today. Six long years. And yet every morning I still say hi to him, wish him well, hoping that he’s doing okay in whatever dimension he resides, smoking a cigar right down to its wet spinach stub and cradling a glass of chardonnay.

My Dad’s passing was the first time in my life I experienced a close death. I guess I was lucky over the years, through my thirties and forties, never witnessing a death, never having been to a wake or funeral.

That all changed six years ago, when my dear Dad died from—what was assumed—a massive heart attack. Who knows? There was no autopsy. Christ, there wasn’t even a wake or funeral. It was as though this man who lived and breathed on this beautiful blue planet suddenly vanished, with no fanfare at all.

He was whisked away, only to be subsequently burnt to ashes in a matter of days, still wearing the golf shirt, overly long shorts, and tennis shoes he wore when he died. I never did give him a proper good-bye. I tried, but when I called the funeral home, the woman informed me that “I’m sorry, Honey. He’s on his way to the crematorium.”

I remember that day, six years ago on August 10th, when my brother from Florida called me and told me that Dad had died.

I was floored. I didn’t believe it. I was pissed, angry, confused, bewildered. I ran into the backyard, bent to the ground on both knees, and wept, big, wet wracking sobs.

To this day I still cannot fathom that he is…gone.

Dad, even though some family members have said in the past for me to get over it, I still greet you every single morning with a hearty hello and plant a kiss on the portrait I did of you. The picture above was taken a day before he died, on Friday the 13th, 2010.

Or who really knows? It could have been August 14th, the morning my Mum returned from vacationing in Maine, where my Dad was just there the day before. She found him lying face up, his legs resting on a chair in the living room, as though he was doing sit-ups, lying there staring at the ceiling, his last gaze probably looking at the years-old resin stain from countless Christmas trees dragged and hoisted into the room. Maybe he thought, with his last dying breath, he wondered how he could get rid of that stain, having not seen it from this angle lying on the floor.

And then he released his last breath.

How do I feel on this momentous day, the sixth anniversary of my father’s death? I am still angry. I still miss him. Terribly.

I love you, Dad, and wish you much comfort. Know that at least this offspring, one of seven, still think of you—every single day.

Happy 84th Birthday, Pops!

With much love,

Paul Harry

 

© Paul Grignon – 2016

All Rights Reserved

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In Memory of Pops…

August 14th, 2013

Three years.

It has been three years since my Dad died.

36 months.

Still, it doesn’t seem possible.

Still I expect to see him at the store, hunched over, his purple hands dangling at his side, his glasses filthy from some chore he was doing at home.

Whenever I go over to the house, I feel his presence; silent as always, sitting in an armchair, reading the paper while Mum and I prattle on about things.

And still, still every day do I think of him. Even after 1,000 days, I think of him.

I have been remiss in visiting my Dad’s special place, where Great Blue Herons roost. But on this solemn anniversary, after work I will make the trek there. And I think I’ll take Andi along. My father would have liked Andi. I always thought that in retirement my Dad would have gotten a dog, someone to keep him company on his long, solitary walks.

Here’s to you, Pops. Just wanted to let you know you are always in my thoughts. It’s not the anniversary I wish to celebrate, but I celebrate this day in your honor.

Earlier today, at my new job, an older gentleman came in. His name was Al, and he was 80 years old. He took out a batch of work, 35mm photos that he had produced, and we chatted for over 25 minutes.

His first piece he ever did was of a Great Blue Heron, and I thought that his presence in this store was somehow an appearance of my Dad, incognito, stopping by to say hello.

It was quite touching to watch this old man, explaining his process, how he has done this ‘hobby’ for the past 53 years. I looked into his eyes and saw the passion and kindness that enabled him to produce these exquisite works.

All the time listening to him, it reminded me of my father, how out of blue he would regale some untold tale of his youth, and I would be rapt.

I bid the old man a pleasant day and I thought that, for the briefest of moments, it was indeed my Dad incarnated. He had stopped by, on this anniversary, to say hello.

Dad, may rest, calm, and peace be yours.

Take care, Pops. I love you.

Your son, Paul.

Copyright, 2013, Paul Grignon, All Rights Reserved.

Dead Things…

WARNING! GRAPHIC IMAGES BELOW. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!

Walking Andi down a quiet stretch of back road, near swampland and twisted, broken trees, there is an abundance of squashed fauna embedded in the asphalt.

These poor hapless creatures didn’t stand a chance. A frog weighing in at five ounces faced against a hurtling metal behemoth weighing in at 3,000 pounds, well, there’s no contest, is there?

Frogs, moles, mice, baby birds, chipmunks, turtles, squirrels, opossums, skunks, and other assorted and indeterminate creatures litter the tarmac, their poor torn bodies crushed and fly-ridden, left as mere fodder for maggots and crows.

If they could talk (I mean, in human language, as I’m sure a turtle or chipmunk have their own brand of communication), what would their stories have been?

For instance, coming across a frog that appears relatively intact, I wonder where he was going and where he came from. Was he having an illicit love affair with Ms. Toad down the road? Did his frog wife suspect anything? Was he out carousing with some of his amphibian pals, having a stiff drink of bog juice at the local watering hole? Was he a tad tipsy as he hopped across the road in the wee morning hours?

Just minding his own business, perhaps formulating a few white lies for his patient wife, maybe give her a bouquet of dead flies as an offering and then—BLAM!—a ’67 Nova driven by a slacker mechanic  with his own set of woes runs him over. Not enough to squash him, though. Just enough head trauma to allow him a few more moments of life, for him to wonder just what in hell had hit him.

He lies on the side of the road face up, staring at the swaying branches of pine above, watching as a lone heron flies high overhead, and hears his comrades off in the distance, tuning up their banjos for the evening’s symphony at dusk.

He lies there with his lies, and wonders what will become of him. He knows only a few more breaths are his and that soon he will croak, and croak no more.

Just one tale among many lifeless tails out there dotting the pavement everywhere. We humans think nothing of splattering a frog, or a bug, or even the occasional squirrel. Nope. There’s impact, and then we’re gone. And so are they.

So what the hell am I driving at here, when I’m not driving along back country roads? It’s just a simple message, really; to pay more attention to what may be out there ahead of you, hopping or skipping or jumping or slithering or leaping or walking across the road. Try to make the effort to save a turtle or a blind hairless mole rat that may be dawdling across your path.

Hey, they all have stories and lives and loved ones waiting for them at home. Just like us. So have a little more respect for the fauna that may just scoot in front of you.

(And Buddha forbid those who nail a black cat crossing your path. )

There’s an old bumper sticker out there that’s rather apropos. It read, “My Karma ran over my Dogma.”

And as we all know, karma can be a bitch.

So keep an eye out for that female dog that may bound in front of your Beemer.

That’s all I’m saying. A li’l courtesy for critters.

And for all those who bypassed my writing and skipped directly to the gory photos?

Well, there aren’t any. What kind of psycho do you think I am?

If you did scroll, man, you are one sick puppy.

©Paul Grignon, 2013, All Rights Reserved.

To Pops…

Second Home

A soft wind blows

Over my father’s

Fragmented grave.

He is out there,

Amongst the frogs,

The cattails,

The herons;

A second home.

I pay tribute

To the man

Who loved me

In his own

Particular way;

A quiet man,

Silent and solitary,

Dispensing rarely

His life story.

I rarely heard

Words from him

Of his childhood.

‘Twould be nice

To engage in

Conversation once again

With him alone,

Wine in hand,

Where herons roost.

blue-heron-in-flight

©paul grignon, 2013, all rights reserved.*

*Image courtesy of Mark Hilliard.

Eric Alagan’s Provoking Poem…

Eric, at his blog Written Words Never Die, has written a poem concerning the wonder and meaning of Death, and all it entails. You can read it here.

It made me pause, and I thought of my own Dad’s death. (Eric’s poem prompted me to compose my previous post, about my Dad and where he liked to go.)

Below is my response to Mr. Alagan’s thoughtful composition:

Fading Light

Agility, gone, replaced by

Frailty.

Abilities, vanished, taken

Stealthily.

Faculties, absent, vanquished by

Senility.

Momentarily, a flicker; extinguished, such

Fragility.

Nobility, once clutched, absconded by

Futility.

Inevitably, yes; now cloaked in

Tranquility.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2013, All Rights Reserved.

 

Where Herons Roost, and Father Rests…

Yesterday, I planted pansies at a site where parts of my Dad are scattered.

Flowers for Pops

He died two years, eight months, and fifteen days ago. He died three days after his 78th birthday. Some of his ashes are scattered here. Other parts of him are strewn closer to home. Sanctuary

I visited this site because it was a sanctuary to him. He would go for long, solitary walks and sit idly here for a while, watching the herons in their nests, gazing into the sky for a heron in flight.

I went there with my Beloved Julie and, after I planted the yellow and purple flowers we, too, took in the splendor of the scene; a soft murmur of wind, the delicate trickle of water over a dam, the firmament reflected in a shimmering pond. Reflections

It was a perfect spring day.

The task done we perched on an old lichen-covered stone wall and sat in silence, and allowed our senses to be embraced by Nature’s wonder.

A heron suddenly flew overhead, it’s slow, rhythmic wings fanning the air. I knew it to be Dad. We both said hello to its magnificence as it passed on by. Heron

Other bird calls pierced the air as lazy Monet-like cumulus flitted across our path. A single heron popped up from its nest, its roost for the summer. We lingered, and soaked up the quietude, pleasantly  immersed in the languid flow of Nature.

Forty minutes later, we packed up and headed home. With one last glance behind, we bid my Dad peace and comfort.

“See you, Pops. We’ll be back soon. Love you.”

We left, to enjoy the remainder of a sunny April Sunday.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2013, All Rights Reserved.

 

Finis…

002One day our son came home from school with a plastic bag filled with water. We were all packed and ready to go to Scituate for the weekend, to visit family. Inside the bag was a goldfish. Our son exclaimed, “We have to go to Wal-Mart! Right now! He needs food!”

First of all, what teacher gives every student a fish to bring home? We did not have a fish tank, and we couldn’t leave him in a plastic bag. I found a Tupperware container and slopped the fish and water in. I said to my son, “Don’t worry. He’ll be fine for two days. We’ll get food when we get back.” And then we left for our trip.

This  happened about four months ago. The reason I even mention this at all is because yesterday I went into my son’s room, to dutifully change the fish’s water, like I have been doing ever since the fish arrived in our home. By the way our son, quite cleverly, named the fish ‘Fins’.

So there I was, bringing the tiny tank I had purchased months ago into the kitchen, to change the rank water. But I noticed Fins wasn’t his usual frisky self, darting from side to side. He was lethargic. I gently took him out with a net and put him in some fresh water. He remained listless. I emptied the water, washed the rocks and fake seaweed and the ‘Surf’s Up’ little sign I had bought.

When it was clean I added fresh water, along with a water conditioner, stirred the tank, and returned Fins to his newly replenished home. He remained listless, almost comatose. I sprinkled in some choice salmon flakes (our cat Boo loves them) but still no response.

During the day I continued to check up on him. I’d open the tank and stir the water, and once in a while Fins would stir. But then he’d (I am only guessing it was a he) became lethargic again, and his head would bob, as though he was bottom feeding.

My son came home from school with a friend and disappeared into his room. He was in there for less than ten minutes when he came out and reported the sad news: “Fins is dead,” he said. There didn’t appear to be any sign of sadness on his face. Perhaps it was because I did all the work; changing the water, feeding him, making sure the water was the right temperature.

I went into his room, and sure enough poor Fins had expired. His gills were not moving at all. Maybe he died of sheer boredom; swimming from one end of the tank to the other, over and over again. That would make any creature  weary. Or maybe he died of loneliness. The only fish in the pond. Perhaps he was despondent and simply gave up the ghost.

I would have had a picture of him but I’m sure you can visualize a goldfish. I mean, how many people take photos of their fish? I can see of a cat, or a dog. Plus, goldfish all look alike. (Was that some kind of ichthyologic racial slur? I don’t know. Probably.) “Fins, and to all your brethren, I hereby apologize for my previous callous remark.”

I took Fins out of the tank and wrapped him in a paper towel. Only his head showed. He looked so tiny and helpless. Poor Fins. Our cats hovered about, sensing a snack. But this was one fish that wouldn’t end up in their maws.

I went into the bathroom, said I’m sorry, and ceremoniously flushed him down the drain, to some kind of fishy Davy Jones’ Locker. “Rest in peace, Fins.”

So now the tank, as you can see, sits empty. Will I get another fish? Probably not. I’ll empty the tank, and relegate it to the bowels of the basement.

And then I’ll wait to see what my son brings home from school next.

Um…does anyone happen to know how to take care of a platypus?

©paul grignon – 2013, all rights reserved.