Today would have been our daughter Molly’s 33rd birthday.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOLLY!
Of course, I love her and miss her. Daily.
I heard via the almighty Internet (on FB) that her best childhood friend is pregnant!
With a boy.
While I wish she and her husband well, part of me always wanted to be a grandfather. And, of course, that never happened.
And I’m a little jealous.
I’m certain Molly is happy for them.
When my marriage was winding down, my wife and I separated. And we eventually got divorced.
It’s only by the grace of God we remained friends. (And remain so to this day! :-) )
The separation was longer than most. Eight years. But, we lived apart, shared custody of Molly, equally (alternate weeks, with one alternate day in the middle.) And living a little more than a mile apart, it ‘worked’.
But, initially, when she told me she wanted to separate, pain aside, it occurred to me that I wanted to do something extra special at Christmas for our daughter.
And I found these art pieces of little girls interacting in their world, by Frances Hook.
And determined I could probably afford one each holiday season, as a special gift to Molly.
Sometimes, getting funds together for toys, clothes and such was difficult. And the statuettes were an additional hardship.
But, I managed.
And she seemed to appreciate them, even when the tradition began, when she was age 5.
The first one was entitled “Birdie”. I got it because I remembered her chasing sparrows in the park, trying to get one to light on her finger. Calling out “Birdie, birdie!”
And so it was to pass she received a different one each year for Christmas. It was nice as we all continued to share Christmases together.
But, Christmas 1994 found me having difficulty finding another Frances Hook porcelain statuette with a little girl in it that she didn’t already have. Eventually, I did find one, though.
And I found out the reason for the dearth of sculptures. It seemed, the artist had passed away the year Molly was born – 1983. And in 1994, the porcelain figurines stopped production.
We lost Molly the next March.
I wonder if somehow The Universe had made the connection.
A number of folks close to me have pre-deceased me. And with some (not all) it would be nice to have another 15 minutes.
Or a day.
My Mother, who passed when I was in the Second Grade. My maternal grandfather, Gramp, when I was 24. Of course my daughter Molly, when she was 12…
And a couple of others.
But, I’ve never had that kind of spiritual connection. And I’m a little envious of those who have!
My friend Bob – who saw a vision of his mother in the moment of her passing. Five miles away!
A girlfriend who saw ‘something’ resembling my deceased dog Ilsa wandering around my house.
My daughter had a childhood friend and neighbor who awakened one night to see a black cat outside on her closed window sill. My daughter loved cats. And the cat opened her mouth and laughed, sounding just like my daughter! Of course, this could have been a dream – except the girl’s mom ran into her room and exclaimed, “I heard her, too!” This was about one month after Molly’s passing.
But for me, bupkis.
I like to think I’m a spiritual guy. Perhaps I am, but just not in that way.
Part of my ongoing, imperfect move toward self-improvement is to learn to ‘let go’ of others negative actions in the past.
And my own. As for me, I’ve been making amends. Mostly.
Other folks, well…
My roomie has been watching some comedy on our satellite TV network. Apparently everyone is in it – so she recommends I watch it.
One of the noted cast members is J*** F****!
You remember: that traitorous bitch actress who visited NORTH Vietnam while were
at war engaging in a ‘police action’ against them, demoralizing our own efforts and (in my opinion) giving aid and comfort to the enemy!
I’m sorry. She can rail against the capitalist system, all while making millions selling movies, and work-out videos. And continue to appear in films and TV shows.
I’ve no problem with that. (Hypocritical though it may be…)
Giving aid and comfort to the enemy, for me, is beyond the pale.
Then, there’s that (then) 23-year-old guy who broadsided my daughter Molly and I. (in 1995) I’m unable to forgive HIM, yet, either.
Frankly, I’m more likely to forgive HIM than Ms. F****. He was speeding, rushing to get to his job when he ran the light and T-Boned us. Accidents happen. (A co-worker reportedly said he bragged about ‘getting away with it!’ He paid an $800.00 fine. Stupidity and youth and all that.)
That traitorous bitch visited a country with which we were at war, actively supported them against us. There are even stories of her betraying POWs she visited to their captors – although theoretically those stories have been debunked.
Regardless, if she had protested at home, as many good Americans did, I’d have no problem. Protest is a fine American tradition.
Hollywood has produced some amazing talents. J*** F**** and Sean Penn amongst them.
Sean Penn hugged Hugo Chavez. While ridiculous and reprehensible, we are not at war with his country.
She should still be in Leavenworth. At least. The car guy should have served time for vehicular manslaughter, and would probably have gotten out by now.
She did issue an apology years later.
He has not, except a mumbled “I’m sorry” in court.
Accidents are, sadly, accidents. Treason is treason.
I’m still not watching that show.
Obviously, in the area of forgiveness, I’ve still work to do…
Doppelganger (n.) a duplicate person, as in someone who looks exactly like __________.
I never used to believe in such a thing. I mean, each human being is an individual, there is no one else like them, right?
I have seen three in the past 20 years(!)
About two months ago, I was grocery shopping at the closest market to home. Not because it was my favorite, but because it was close. (Laziness? Heat?)
I’m standing in the checkout line, and five or six folk ahead of me was a familiar guy. Tall. Large. Built familiarly (if that’s even a word?) He turned to push out his cart of groceries, and I almost yelled out his name! He resembled strikingly BOB, my former PI and gun store boss! Except the previous week I was informed by the original Bob that he just has had the lower part of his left leg amputated. And I knew there was no way he would have been across the Valley, 30 miles from his home, and so ambulatory right away. And this guy had more hair, a goatee and a pony tail! Nope – not Bob!
But certainly closer looking to him than his brother!!
Another time, we were in a Mexican restaurant. Because it was cheap, not because it was good. And we were seated by the back door, and could see folks seated outside on the patio. And there was Marla, a former girlfriend. Same figure, same face, same laugh and mannerisms. Except Marla passed away in 2004 – I have a copy of the obituary!
And there was my first observance with a doppelganger. In 1995, about 4 months after the accident. You know where I’m going with this…
The ex and I were window shopping at a large mall, largely because it was late Summer and air conditioned. And a couple walks by with three children. And number-two child looked exactly like Molly, except with blond hair!!!
I’m not normally the kind of man who faints, but I leaned up against the wall and closed my eyes to keep from losing consciousness. And to keep from screaming and crying. And my ex (who obviously had not seen her) asked me what was wrong.
And I nervously pointed. At air.
There was a couple with children. TWO children! And neither resembled our daughter.
To only be able to see her again…
So, it’s another Father’s Day.
This is my twentieth without Molly around.
My own father lost a son (my twin brother – name unknown to me), and a daughter, through a previous divorce. He was not around to suffer the loss of Molly. If he had been, I could have asked him how he dealt with such ephemeral matters.
I guess I know, at least in part, how he dealt – he drank and he overate.
Traits familiar to me.
Fortunately, I’m not an alcoholic and am dealing with my food issues.
If only I knew how to deal with the issue of loss.
Guess I am, in reality. I’m still here. And I have the love of my friends and family.
And that, my friends, is everything.
Go and hug your children and tell them you love them! Because you never know.
(Truly, I cannot believe it’s been Twenty Years!)
There are things that are good to remember; things bad to remember; and things important to remember.
The crummy part of all this is sometimes my brain is not too good at discerning which is which, or what goes with what.
My character (being flawed and neurotic as it is) has a tendency to default to the bad.
A shrink, I’m certain, would say it’s all about low self esteem, negative messages from childhood, etc. The reasons don’t matter.
Twenty years ago, today was the accident in which our daughter Molly was killed.
I was driving – this makes me ultimately responsible, as I was The Dad. The Protector. The fact the other driver ran the red light while speeding is of no consequence.
I carry a sidearm. I’ve done so for 41 years. Long before I even met Molly’s mother, I chose to do whatever I could to protect myself and my family and friends. It’s a roll I haven’t taken lightly.
And I took my assignment as Protector even more seriously when I became a father. It’s what father’s are supposed to do!
We were making a left turn from 44th Street, East onto Thomas Road. A little after 1 PM. Going to Monkey Wards after an earlier visit to Famous Footwear @ 20th St. and Camelback. Saturday’s with 12 year old daughters meant shopping! The signal didn’t have a left turn arrow back then. It was just like in the movies – in the midst of completing the turn, I sensed something was wrong. Based on the estimated speed of the other car, we were pushed across the intersection in about one-tenth of a second.
And many lives changed forever.
I’ve no memory regarding what happened next. Nothing to recall on the witness stand months later. I was told I regained consciousness enough to give my estranged wife’s phone number to the ambulance guy, when I was asked if there was anyone he could call.
I had early drugged hospital memories of being on board a ship(!) Not enough consciousness to ask why I was on a ship. Turned out, with one (now re-inflated) collapsed lung and the other half filled with fluid, County Hospital had me on a pneumatic bed which kept hissing and rolling, to keep fluids from settling in my damaged lungs. Ribs pushed into a lung. Broken collar bone. Broken arm. Tube up the nose, and IV morphine/ativan drip.
My sister, wife and friends were there, being supportive and keeping loving watch as much as they could. Not wanting to answer the obvious question: Where was Molly?
In my few awake moments, I remember asking about the funeral, desperately wanting to be well enough to attend.
My wife was told Sunday morning there had not been any brain activity, and had the courage to disconnect life support. Had our roles been reversed, I don’t think I would have had the bravery. I am forever grateful to her for this. A number of folks benefited from her decision.
The funeral was that following Tuesday. I was largely unconscious in ICU at County for another two weeks.
Ultimately, after being moved to Good Sam, being given Tylenol in lieu of the morphine/ativan drip (!) and weeks in the regular hospital and rehab, I was able to walk and breathe again.
I was deeply depressed and pretty much just counting the days.
Until I could pay my respects.
That came weeks later.
I’ll say it again, as long as I take breath – Tell your family and friends you love them, right now!
Because you may never get another chance.
AND be an organ donor.
I try to remember the good times. The IMPORTANT ONES. It’s what has kept me alive for the past twenty years.
My thanks to all of you, family and friends, for holding me up, until I could stand on my own.
(Commentary has been turned off – I know how you all feel. Thanks, again.)
I’ve posted before about sharing ‘the facts of life’ with my daughter. Not reproduction (although we did speak of such things) but letting her know I was discretely armed in her presence, and providing a few basic signals for her to keep safe.
Should terrible things happen.
Hand signals and verbal commands. To be acted upon without question.
I.E. We’re in a shopping mall, and I observe bad guys attempting to shoot other bad guys. The signals mean find cover immediately, and failing that, hit the deck! Things are getting serious very soon.
This doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve plans on engaging multiple gang members.
Molly didn’t know much about my immersion in the gun culture, except not to touch any firearms without permission, and sometimes Dad went shooting, until she was six. Then I shared the ‘facts of life’ (that I carried whenever possible for all our protection, and it was no one else’s business) and devised the signals.
It never occurred to me to consider my tactics when she was younger. A preschooler, a toddler, a baby.
And I think of that mother who was shot to death in the Walmart by her two-year-old!
LIMATUNES opened my eyes!
IF you are an armed mother (or father) involved in the protection of your charges, you should go and read her. She has THREE children of a young age, and considers things I never have.
Armed, with children, of any age is wholly different from just being armed.
From the time we are very small, we believe Life is about acquiring things. Food, warmth, love…stuff. It’s when we are a little older we realize that Life, too, is about loss.
And, most of us don’t understand or like that. In fact, most of us hate it!
And, it becomes a matter of degree. That toy that broke (with which we didn’t play, anyway), gives way to the lost book. The dog that died. The high school girlfriend who moved away.
And we choose to suffer for our loss.
But, there is a larger picture, if we choose to see it.
If we didn’t lose ‘it’, we wouldn’t really appreciate it.
My dear friend Bob (of the many Bobs I know) texted me yesterday, to advise me that on Friday he had his left foot and about six inches of his left leg amputated. He’s been diabetic for many years, and had already lost a toe. Even though I lost the use of my right hip when I was 12, I still grieved for him. I’m certain he has a long and arduous road ahead involving prosetheses, crutches, and much pain.
And grief over the loss of his foot.
Most of us don’t even think of our feet or legs, unless they are giving us difficulty. A blister, a bunion, a corn. Calluses. For me, calluses are difficult, because grinding them off is problematic with a fused hip. And, I too, am diabetic.
I still am fortunate enough to still have all my extremities, though. You can bet my nightly cursory examination of said feet was more than cursory last night, though!
I was wrong. And I survive here to do the suffering.
I love you and miss you, Molly. And sometimes grieve over you.
But, I also appreciate the time I had to know and love you. I believe so much more than if we had continued in our parallel life paths. Because of the yin and yang.
And I’ve my memories to keep.
Go and hug and kiss those you love, and tell them. Because you never know.
And, if you are diabetic, check your feet often.
I’m in whine mode.
(I know I said at the outset that I wouldn’t use this weblog for therapy, but, hell, it’s my blog, so here goes…)
Why? Not only do I not have any funds to get neat presents for friends and family, but, I’ve no one with whom to share the non-materialistic parts of the holidays. One terrific couple I know gifted me with a cool assortment of cheeses and beers (including Lindeman’s raspberry ale!), and all I could give them in response was a small bag of garlic goldfish.
Hardly an even trade.
I love my sister and her kids, and her kid’s kids dearly, but going to a family celebration alone with certain people in absentia is always painful.
Now it’s the downhill slide from the New Year, to Molly’s birthday, to the anniversary of the accident, in March.
We’re told the best way to get out of this kind of funk is to create a gratitude list. So here goes…
I’ve a roof over my head, and a working car. Thanks to my friends! I’m on Medicare. I’ve disability benefits, which, while in no way am I rich, I can buy food, gas, and pay rent. I’ve a select group of friends, both locally and on the Internet, who help out whenever they can. Many of these friends have gone above and beyond – for years – when I am unable to give back in kind.
This must mean something.
I’m disabling comments for this post. Because, in lieu of giving me an Internet “there-there”, or a virtual hug (or a kick in the pants), please stop for a moment and create your own gratitude list.