There comes a point in every little journey where the house becomes quiet and dark... sometimes there is the glow of the telly, turned down low, oddly by this time i'm sitting up and thinking and usually i have one or more cats lounging about with me... i call it the sixth sense... every cat i've ever had knows when the human dude is on the astral plane... they enjoy it and we discuss the tenets of existence and the like. The further i skip along toward my own non-existence the more i appreciate the world around me... shame really i hadn't figured that out thirty years ago but you know that old problem with youth... i was too busy ingesting as many substances as possible, chasing women, to busy being the East End's version of Shiva while what i really wanted to be was Ganesh... but as stated i was young and dumb... i mean really what other way is there to be?
My uncle called me the other day. He has cancer. It seems it wasn't caught and it has now spread to his liver, spleen, lungs, bones... fucking you name it. It's end game shit and he's in hospice and he called to tell me because since my dad died we've talked regularly on the phone and much like my dad the conversations are never short. A lot of people in my family have always thought of my uncle as a chronic fuck-up and that statement is not wholly untrue, i have a soft spot for chronic fuck-ups since i fall squarely into that category. My dad looked out for his big brother, they were only 18 months apart in age and other than myself my uncle was the person closest to my father. My dad liked to say his older brother was the dumbest smart guy he ever knew.
My uncle saw my dad the day he died. He went to visit him that morning and he has told me the story a few times. He asked how my dad was doing and he said my dad said, fucking horrible. My father was not one to complain and just his response gives me insight into that day, a day i think about a lot. Uncle D talks about how my dad was just fed up with feeling terrible and really wasn't enjoying anything. As my uncle stated the other day, you hit a point where you can't do anything but sit around and watch television and what kind of life is that? i understood perfectly though i joked that to some people that was life. He talks about that last day and how when he left my dad he broke down in tears, he felt guilty leaving as he thought about my dad sitting there alone... i told him there was nothing to feel guilty about... that i was glad he saw him that day.
The history of families, of people, is documented in the myths we create and those myths are created to help us, to get us through the grief and come out on the other side with an acceptance and joy for the fact that we got to love and know those people who meant so much to us. My dad had cancer. He died of a heart attack. It was never confirmed but i know... how? Because i'm his son. As i told my uncle, my dad had a buzzer around his neck in case of emergency... the myth i've created, which i believe is based somewhat in truth since i had talked to my father extensively about what was coming was this... that as my father walked by the pictures of his three grandsons, of his son and his daughter, to change his laundry (which is what he was doing) that his heart finally gave out and that he knew he could hit that button and they'd come sprinting in but why? to be confined to a bed and inundated with tubes until finally after X amount of time it was over? No Pops even in his last moments as the most rational man i've ever met decided that it was okay, that it had been a good run and to go out on his feet instead of strapped to a bed... at times, like now, as i write this, it makes me wipe tears from my eyes.. and at the same time it makes me happy. He went out the way he wanted.
Friday as i sat on the couch watching Mr. Cave and his Bad Seeds i discussed all this with Syd and Zuko who seemed to concur that it was a good myth. I walked to the front door and watched the clouds stroll by in the night sky, i studied the trees and the gentle sway, my uncle had stated that he wasn't afraid to die but that he was going to miss the beauty of the world, the trees and lakes and rivers and birds singing in the morning... the things a vast majority of the human race take for granted or outright ignore. I'm going to miss my uncle. After my dad's passing we both filled a void for each other as we each represented a part of my dad to the other... i mean how fucking beautiful is that?
Much like with my dad we talked about his condition and then moved on to things other than mortality and non-existence.. basketball, our kids, and a long conversation about women.... my uncle talked about how he took dance lessons because back when he was kid it was a good way to get close to girls. How he learned to play the piano for the same reason... it was a great conversation and he joked that being 6'4 (my uncle is 5'8) and a hot shit basketball player probably helped me in that department and i told him it didn't hurt. We laughed about my days as the scruffy poet and how i found out how writing poetry wasn't exactly a bad way to meet girls either... about the the readings i used to hold at my apartment in college, ostensibly as a place to give people an outlet but more for me to talk to the girls who came by to read or listen. It was a man knowing the end was coming near and talking and recounting his life. We talked for a couple hours. When it was over my uncle said something i don't think he's ever said to me, he said, I love you man... i said the same. Over the past three years and through my dad's illness we're closer than we've ever been. At almost 79 and with health issues of his own it was still a bit of a shock, my uncle has always been a vibrant character but i could hear him tire as the conversation went on. He's a good guy, an intelligent and sentient human being... he's always recommending books for me to to read, he devoured books, he could talk for hours... when i hung up i took a few deep breaths wiped the water from my eyes.