Archive for January, 2019|Monthly archive page

Dear Marianne

Monday, 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.

A Peaceful Ending

Friday, 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.

A Dog’s Mourning

Sunday, 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.

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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.