4Feb/190

The Crossroads Of Mortality

February 4th, 2019

I stopped by Mom’s house today to start the vehicle, check for mail, and make sure all is as it should be. I also called and talked to a friend while I was there. We’ve been friends 30 years now and while he’s been the epitome of health as long as I’ve known him, he had some disturbing things happen to him the last three months. It’s culminated into something that will eventually take him from us. As with many things, it’s just a matter of when.

The snow continued to melt outside—our second warm day in a row since the -35 degree with wind chill days last week compliments of the polar vortex…gotta love that phrase—and I found myself momentarily mesmerized by the sound of water draining at the end of the driveway post-phone conversation. A stream formed from two of the neighbor’s houses, combined with what melted from Mom’s, and poured into the sewer.

It was a very simple moment, yet I took it in. I thought about what it may be like to one day find myself in the circumstance of never seeing or hearing this sort of thing again. Would Mom have given anything to be where I was one last time? Would Dad? Grandma? And what memories or thoughts will my friend take with him when it’s that time?

One of my most fervent hopes is that I won’t lack closure for anything in my life or be the one holding up closure for another. That hope is already blown, though, and I know it. Closure isn’t meant to be. I was denied closure in the past and I was asked to deny closure in the present. What will my friend do?

He’s taking the news better than I think I might. Or maybe he isn’t. I could be snuffed out in a heartbeat tomorrow tripping over a Lego and into an elevator shaft at work. Believe me, I can barely live correctly, so I know I won’t die that way. I told him on the phone this afternoon he might very well outlive us all. That’ll really piss him off if that happens, probably more than if he goes before us.

One thing I won’t do is pity him. Nobody needs pity. But I will help and I will be strong for him and his wife when they need it. I can only hope that whatever suffering he’s in for is brief. And this thought of brief suffering has brought up memories of my father’s time with Alzheimer’s. That was 7 years of hell for that man. 7 years and some people go longer than that.

I know if I wind up developing it, I won’t put Ralph through it or any of my friends. Not that. It’s too much a burden on them and I won’t be that. My hope is that if things start to get bad, there will be just enough of me left to know to walk down the street to the lake and try to swim to Canada. I won’t make it to our neighboring country, but like everything else in my life, I’ll try.

What preoccupies me most these days, though, is what mark we leave behind. Who will remember my parents after their friends, Ralph, me, and my relatives pass on? Who will remember my friend after his time has gone? What mark do I leave behind? My books? My blog posts? My idea for a hat that says “Make American Trumpless Again”? My senior Olympics tryout swimming to Canada and losing?

I know there’s something after this life. I have no doubt of that. Can I tell you what it is? No, not with any certainty. Maybe it’s different for everybody. Or maybe it’s the same, yet nothing like any of us think. I guess that mirrors life a bit too, doesn’t it?

So, do you ever think about your mortality?

________________________
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, and sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant.

30Jan/192

Dear Vice President Pence

January 30th, 2019

Faith- strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

Dear Vice President Pence,

“…to see major news organizations attacking Christian education is deeply offensive to us.”

“We’ll let the other critics roll off our back, but this criticism of Christian education in America should stop.”

These are, as you might recall, your comments regarding offense taken to your wife starting work at a school where the application requires the applicant to initial, among many other things, that they will not engage in “homosexual or lesbian sexual activity” and “transgender identity”. The school also reserves the right to deny students who identify as gay or come from a household where the parents happen to be gay.

Because that’s what they did back when Jesus walked among mankind, right? He was all for it, correct?

Your faith tells you this is the way people should be treated and it’s justified because of an interpretation of the Bible. And it is an interpretation, otherwise how many other older beliefs would you have to follow that are considered outdated and, in some cases illegal? Do you avoid eating shellfish and execute people for breaking the Sabbath? Yet this particular bit about gay folks sticks with you and so many others.

And you wonder why people are offended?

I’m offended you’re offended. Why? I’ll put this as simply as I can; in my mind, your faith ends where it contradicts my existence. Having faith is a choice. You can choose to open yourself up to it or not. I can’t change my attraction to my own gender and I don’t want to change it because I see nothing unnatural or wrong with it. I exist. I exist this way. I have the right to exist this way just as you have the right to exist as someone with heterosexual feelings.

I look back at the last 6 years of my life and, let me tell you, they haven’t been happy ones. I’ve lost both my parents—one to Alzheimer’s and the other to strokes and cancer—my father-in-law to cancer, my mentor to cancer, and more friends than I care to list. These are people who my husband and I cared about and who cared about us. Good people. People who made a positive difference in life. People who didn’t run the country and represent everybody in it, but who never said or believed it’s okay to discriminate against part of the population.

You know your record with our community. We know your record too. You fought against recognizing marriage between same-sex couples. You co-sponsored an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. You voted against ENDA. You voted against the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” And let’s not forget the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that went quite poorly for you when you were Governor. You knew what you were doing when you passed it. You knew what it would be used for. And we know what forced your hand to correct some of the damage; the loss of money to your state.

Now, here you are, Vice-President, serving under a man who goes against so many of the values Christians hold dear to them, values you and your wife purport to hold dear. What would Christian educators say about your boss if he wasn’t President? Think about it. But he is President. And while your job increased in scope as Vice-President, your view of our community hasn’t. So you work for a man like him, yet we’re the ones you hold in contempt?

It might interest you to know that I pray. Maybe even to the same God. I pray for the souls of my family and friends. And I pray any further damage you do to me and my kind is limited. Very limited. And that you don’t get a second term as Vice President to inflict more.

I pray you are forced to bear witness to your words and actions one day.

Maybe a little prayer on your part will help you evolve. We evolved. That’s why we’re here today. Now it’s your turn. And in this you have a choice. We don’t, because we’re here as we are, and we’re done changing to fit your faith.

Sincerely,

Kristoffer Gair


Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, and sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant.

14Jan/192

Dear Marianne

January 14th, 2019

Let’s just get this right out of the way. If you were still here, Ralph and I would have shipped you Mom’s dog after she passed and told you all the best parts about him and his little personality. You’d have thought you were receiving a little blessing from Heaven made of gold. And then he’d have given you attitude, wouldn’t listen, peed on your floor, and thrown up on your shoes within a week or two. However, by then, there’d be no returning him and you’d be cussing our asses out. Oh, you’d laugh about in 3 or 4 years when he passed, so stop glaring. It could happen!

How are you? It’s almost been a year since you left us and I half picture you sitting on a long couch being handed red seedless grapes while someone else holds a goblet of Coke…or that godawful fruit drink you used to mix for yourself, and hands it to you from time to time when you snap your fingers. The good life! And no more tele-marketers or insurance people to deal with since Hell doesn’t have a direct line where you are above. Definitely the good life!

I’m sorry the hospital never forwarded my last card on to you before you passed. It was a funny one, though I think you probably saw what it said for yourself reading over Sharon’s shoulder at some point. I know you heard our eulogies. It didn’t escape me or Ralph when the clock outside the room chimed at a time it wasn’t set to when we stood next to it. We knew right then it was you and you were okay. That was you telling us as much.

Things are kinda “meh” here. Do you remember how people used to say you can never go home again? Naturally, they mean that in the human sense, not the angelic sense. Well, I dropped something off at my aunt’s house before Christmas and while I haven’t been back to see Grandma’s condo and the house I used to live in, I did drive by Grandma’s old house, the one on Fenton. Lots of family history in that house. Mom grew up there and I have incredible memories of all the holidays spent there. The current owners have let it go to hell. What a disappointment.

That day is further reason I haven’t driven by the condo or home where I grew up. I can’t quite prepare myself for the disappointment. The same goes for your house. I drove by with everybody else on the way to the church, only I haven’t been back. I can’t do it. I have too much history there from when Ralph lived with you, and too many good memories. Funny memories. And the dogs.

Speaking of the dogs, I can’t help but wonder if Holly and Meka have gotten their revenge on you yet. I think they’ve been plotting for a very long time. I envision them pushing you out the back door and screaming at you to go “Do your duty!!!!” while you flip them off. You know you’ve got that one coming!

What it all comes down to, Marianne, is I miss you. I know Ralph does too. I miss the sound of your gruff ass—yet loving!—voice. I miss your tell-it-like-it-is way of summing things up, especially with expletives. Oh, the sheer multitude and combinations of those expletives! And I miss how you’d actually ask me about what I was currently working on story-wise, because you’d eventually read it. Sure, you’d read it to see if any of the threats I made about putting you into a story found fruition, but you’d read them nonetheless. I don’t miss your driving, though. Sorry. The other drivers in the state of Illinois don’t miss your driving either. Your driving music? Yes. That thing you called driving? No.

Please keep an eye on us if you would. Having one extra guardian angel up there in Afterlife Compliance leaves us all breathing a bit easier. I promise next time I can get Ralph to a Portillo’s, I’ll eat a hotdog in your honor. And, hey, if you find any decent crab leg restaurants up there, make a reservation when it’s our time to join you. We’ll catch up over a good meal. You make dessert, though. No bitching. You made incredible desserts!

Until next time, may Tiny Tim serenade you with Tiptoe Through The Tulips for eternity! lol I know, I know. “Fuck you!”, right?

Love,

Kris

PS If you get a chance, listen to the new Sarah Brightman album, Hymn. It’s heavenly! Er…you know what I mean.


Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, and sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant.

11Jan/191

A Peaceful Ending

January 11th, 2019

I work in a hospital and I’ve had a number of friends and family pass in the last six years, so I think it’s natural my thoughts tend to drift towards endings more often than not. Have you ever thought for more than a few fleeting moments about how you’ll pass? I realized driving home last night that I haven’t, but when I do, I always tend to think it’ll be one of those sweet, pleasant endings without pain or regret. In other words, bullshit.

How often do we ever read an obituary that states “(name) fell asleep on a layer of rose petals surrounded by family and friends while their soul drifted off into the next world, elevated to Heaven”? More like “(name) kicked and screamed writhing in pain and cursing all those around them until one brave family member unplugged the equipment, thereby silencing this tortured soul once and for all. Bets placed at the scene whether or not he/she was headed straight to Hell. Reading of the will began immediately to see who received the inheritance.”

Maybe you’re like me, listening to the news in the morning and shaking your head. How many people get shot during a week during the midnight hour? They die in the street, their car, or their house, all in pain and wondering why this happened to them. A local family here was returning home last weekend from Florida on I75 and another vehicle struck them, killing both parents and all three young children. What the heck? So many painful ways to go, so little time.

Look at my own family. We watched my father robbed of a piece of his memory, a piece of who he was, each day until his body couldn’t even remember how to swallow a tiny bit of water or food. Love that Alzheimer’s, right? He wasted away mentally and physically to nothing. Is that how he would have wanted to go? Hell no. My grandmother? Hooked up to a breathing machine with no hope of waking up again after a kidney stone and other complications robbed her of a longer life? Hell no. And my mother? Would she have chosen to go by multiple strokes and shit rehabilitation facilities where she was allowed to fall and come away from those places with urinary tract infections? Hell no.

Would I ever choose to go that way? NO. Will I have a choice in the matter? Probably not. Where the heck does this misconception of a peaceful end come from? How exactly do we get to the point we delude ourselves into thinking we’ll leave this world different from how we entered it—the kicking and screaming part?

Ralph and I don’t have children, so we won’t be relying on them to help us pass. He might be willing to put a pillow over my face and move things along if it gets to that point. Ralph might do it anyway even if I have years left. Or maybe he and a number of others I know who’d like to have a hand in putting a pillow over my face could do the deed together, then go out for Mojito after and reminisce. And, really, would I care at that point?

I’ve joked in the past when friends have said me and Ralph will be one of those couples who die together that if it happens that way, he was driving. Do I think we’ll pass together? No. And I wouldn’t want us to. He’s 4 ½ years younger than I am. He should have more time, quality time. He should finally be able to do as he pleases without me looking over his shoulder, and he’ll appreciate not having to tell me everything I should do the way he does it because it’s better. Couple things.

I wonder if they have mediators in the afterlife.

So what about you? Ever given any thought to how you might go versus how you want to go and if you’ll actually go that way? Or does it make you uncomfortable to think about?


Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, and sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant.

6Jan/197

A Dog’s Mourning

January 6th, 2019

I’ve recently been told that the body doesn’t differentiate between physical and mental stress. Stress is just stress. And, over time, it can change the mind’s chemistry depending on how much stress you’re dealing with on a consistent basis. I imagine it’s the same for animals. The dog we inherited from Mom, Cuckoo—no, we didn’t name him, and, yes, he’s certifiably nuts—has exhibited a number of signs of mourning that didn’t click with me at first because of my own mourning.

Cucks—one of many nicknames for him that include Dumbass, White Dog, Nut Job, and Snowflake (this last one comes compliments of Ralph’s friends)—is originally a rescue dog. We don’t know much about his original owner, but he was rescued from a friend of Mom’s many years back. That’s how Mom got to know him. Mom later adopted him when her friend ended up in a nursing home.

Cuckoo adapted well to the house with Mom and Dad. He’d been there many times, knew me, and he actually provided a canine distraction for Dad, who had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Mom took Cuckoo up to visit his previous owner and they used to chuckle about the dog walking in, taking a look around, then wanting to leave and go back home. He was very nonchalant.

Then Dad died and Cucks was there during Mom’s mourning. She concentrated on him and through her love of caring for this dog, created some delightful bad habits we continue trying to break him of here. Did he grieve for my father? Probably. I didn’t see it, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Plus he had mom and became a little attention monger.

Then Mom moved into the new house and Grandma moved in with her. Cuckoo used to go into Grandma’s bedroom each morning and sleep on her bed for a bit while she drank her coffee and watched TV. He’d meander in and out of there during the day, especially if Mom ran errands, and this new situation gave him two people to get attention from. Grandma passed and Mom had her first stroke, so I started staying at the house with him because I thought it would be easier on him. One of three people would come by the house and let him out during the day while I was at work, and he still slept on Grandma’s bed and had the run of the house. This allowed him to continue with some semblance of what he was used to.

I took him to see Mom a couple of times when she was in the hospital. I’m pretty sure he knew things were not good. I’m also pretty sure he knew when she passed. I’d moved him into our house by then because it became easier for me, especially with my job. He was forced to adapt to not having the run of a house during the day, is not allowed on the furniture, and doesn’t receive the same amount of attention he did previously.

Cuckoo accompanied me to Mom’s house several times while we’ve started emptying it. And while he was overjoyed to be able to jump on beds and furniture again, he also watched strangers enter a place they hadn’t before and carry things off that were a part of his life with Mom and Grandma. I think it was early December the last time I took him over there with me, and it will be the last.

I don’t do this out of anger or meanness. I do it because Cuckoo was inconsolable for several days after. He just, in my opinion, doesn’t need to see his world dismantled further. He remains excessively needy, doesn’t understand there’s work time and play time, but has done extremely well in terms of not jumping up on furniture. There are days he acts and looks sad, and nights I have to wake him up from a bad dream. He and Ralph have had their “this-is-how-it-is” speech and Cuckoo seems to understand where he fits in within the household, so there’s that.

This is a time of mourning for me, my aunt, my husband, and Mom’s friends. This is also a time of mourning for Cuckoo. Dogs feel. They know joy. They know sorrow. They know anger. They know surprise. They know shame. They know excitement. And we know when they need time to grieve too.

________________________
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, and sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant.

22Dec/181

Merry Christmas And A Look Back At 2018

December 22nd, 2018

It’s no secret this year and I haven’t been on good terms. I’ll not be missing it when it turns to 2019. Honestly, I don’t remember daring 2018 to be worse than 2017, yet it went there anyway. Unpredictably. All on its own. Sort of like watching our President on any given week. Oh, that wily stability.

I had high hopes for this year. After all, Ralph and I were on more even footing than we’d been on in 2017, we’d talked about taking a trip together, and I was neck-deep into my new job, plus working on the new book. We cooked for 4 last year during the holidays. We’re cooking for two this year. Nobody saw Grandma’s passing coming, least of all, I’m sure, Grandma. I think given the chance of going to the doctor ahead of time instead of waiting like she did, she’d have chosen to see the doc.

On the other hand, if she knew how things would turn out for Mom and had to decide between going when she did and living to see her children begin passing, she may have gone then anyway. I’ve come to terms with their passings being inevitable. If it was their time, then so be it. They lived. They loved. They hurt. They laughed. They cried. And it’s been Ralph’s and my time to cry. My aunt too.

I still miss them.

What worries me most and what stops me in my tracks at times is wondering whether people will remember them, and how they’ll remember them. How will they know just how much they meant to us? What their stories were? What we learned from them in life and what we’ve learned from them in death. It’s going to take time to put it all together.

A friend of mine suggested I should start being more social and going out for coffee—or tea in my case—from time to time. I tried having lunch out last weekend. I went to Chili’s for comfort food and brought my laptop. That’s probably not what my friend had in mind, but I did get some writing done. I even stopped by Macomb Mall for a couple of minutes whereupon I had a panic attack 5 minutes into the visit and decided to leave as quickly as possible.

So you see, I not only want 2019 to be a better year, I NEED it to be a better year. Mentally, physically, spiritually, politically… The list goes on.

If I choose to toast to anything this New Year’s Eve, it’ll be to a calmer world with fewer assholes in charge. Yes, I went there. Yes, I called him that. No, I don’t feel the least bit guilty. And no, I don’t care if anybody is offended by it. I’ve lost too much in the last six years not to be angry right now and not to speak my mind because so many others are keeping their silence.

I’ll also toast to our health, to our animals, to our friendships, to our relationships, to kindness—especially kindness—to letting our anger go, to forgiveness, and to all those no longer with us, whether they walk a different path in life or have passed on.

Merry Christmas to you all. Or Happy Holidays. Whichever you prefer.

And a Happy New Year.

-K


Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, and sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant.

26Nov/180

Holidays

November 26th, 2018

I’m familiar with friends who suffer from depression during the holidays. I’ve been lucky, though, not to be one of them. Holidays and birthdays have always been something my family has celebrated with…well, vigor. I have incredible memories of Grandma cooking, or trips out to Sutherlands Fish & Chips (or Highlands Fish & Chips) back in the day. Family dysfunction be damned. We still celebrated and the gifts were like magic.
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5Nov/184

The Brave Face

November 5th, 2018

My best friend from college and his wife stayed overnight this past weekend. Ralph was home too, which made it even better. The company was greatly appreciated. It’s easier to entertain and be entertaining than deal with the silence and solitude. Good grief…having the dog around is even helpful. A moment happened Sunday afternoon after my friends left and Ralph was getting to leave. He gave me a hug and I remember opening my mouth and just…letting words fall out I’d been thinking the past three weeks.
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20Oct/186

In Memory Of Kathy Gair (1950-2018)

October 20th, 2018

Mom was always afraid of what I’d write about her one day. I tend to be a bit satirical at times because point of view is everything and I prefer to laugh whenever I can. However, there are times I’m a bit more introspective.
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13Oct/1812

Mom’s Passing & The Last 6 Months

October 13th, 2018

I received an e-mail at 3:09p.m. on May 21st, 2018 from my mother:

“Something is wrong with me–I need to go to the clinic to get checked out please. I don’t want to alarm Gram.”
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