Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

A Year Since Mom’s Passing

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

I knew a guy whose mother passed away when we were still in high school. We were never friends per se, but we’d gone to grade school together and knew of each other. I remember thinking how awful for him, and I couldn’t fathom losing either of my parents at that age. People do, though, and in many respects, I am lucky to have had mine as long as I did. I was 45 when my father passed and 48 when Mom did. This still feels too young to have lost them both.

I went silent for the most part after 2017, and especially after losing 90% of my previous blog posts. Just didn’t have it in me to start up again. I wasn’t sure either if I’d ever write another book either after losing Dad. I did. It’s dark, but a story I’m proud of. Mom never read it and I’m glad for that. Grandma didn’t either, though both read Falling Awake. Grandma preferred stories with happy endings. Mom wondered when I was going to start writing comedy again.

One of the things I did when Mom was in hospice is read to her. I read chunks of Falling Awake 3 to her, parts I thought she’d like, and parts she inspired. There’s a lot about a mother’s love in that story. Three mothers, and three children, and their very special relationships. The bond between mothers and sons is very special, and I wanted to celebrate that a bit.

But then she passed. I cried. My aunt cried. My mother’s friends cried. Ralph cried.

I did something after Mom’s passing she and I should have done after Dad’s. I went to a grief therapist. There’s no shame in it. I needed to talk, she got paid to listen, and Ralph didn’t have to put up with my inner monologues seeping out through my mouth. Win/win.

Are things back to normal? No. And that’s okay. I still haven’t finished going through Mom’s things. I still haven’t sold her house, though not for lack of trying. I still haven’t taken Dad’s and her ashes to their final resting place yet. Next year, I think. I watch movies and still catch myself thinking “I need to give this to Mom. She’ll love it!” I walk through Meijer near her house and remember the times I walked with her while she recovered from her first stroke. I pass places we went to during that time and remember back. A year hasn’t dulled the sharpness of the memories and they sometimes continue to cut like a hot knife through butter.

Her dog has taken up residence in our house and adapted much better than I thought he might. He hates not having the run of the place, hates not being allowed on the furniture or bed, and hates we don’t live for his luxury the same way Mom did. He gets over it, then gets crabby every once in a while. He also has an unerring knack for licking his privates far too frequently. Oh, and he snores too, by the way, but almost in a charming kind of way.

I sometimes feel Mom near me. I didn’t for a while, and I think it’s because she might have thought I didn’t want her to be, so I made sure to start talking to her each night before bed and tell her it’s okay. She heard me.

There are days I still feel like I’m sleepwalking through my waking hours. Still dazed. Still confused. Then there are other times life holds me spellbound. I’m not where I want to be in life. I’m not where I thought I’d be. But that place where I thought I’d be? The place that exists in my head? It’s somewhere else in time and far beyond my reach.

So here I am. One year later. Still recovering. In a place I didn’t think I’d be. And that’s okay. Some journeys end. Some continue on. There’s a Chinese saying; some people build walls when the winds of change blow, and other people build windmills. I built a few too many walls.

Maybe it’s time to try building a windmill.

The Crossroads Of Mortality

Monday, 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?

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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.

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 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.

Merry Christmas And A Look Back At 2018

Saturday, 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.

Holidays

Monday, 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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The Brave Face

Monday, 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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In Memory Of Kathy Gair (1950-2018)

Saturday, 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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Mom’s Passing & The Last 6 Months

Saturday, 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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The Baggage We Carry

Monday, July 16th, 2018

I had a chat with a couple friends this past Friday. One was celebrating her birthday and suddenly became quite emotional. Not necessarily in the good way, but a kind of “I need to get this off my chest” kind of way. This friend is absolutely lovely. She just has some baggage from her youth that tends to rear its ugly head from time to time. Friday was one of those times. Then the other friend we were with shared a few things about her childhood, and the scars those memories left.

Seems like we all have baggage.
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