(via thepoliticalfreakshow)Source: mollyfamous
Five years ago I sat in this very Starbucks on a Saturday morning lamenting the loss of my grandfather, Hugo. Today I’m sitting in the same place, thinking about how I just lost my grandmother, Phyllis, as well. My cousin called me this morning while I was at work but I could not pick right up since I was on a call with a client. Her voicemail had all of the makings of a call I didn’t want to return - short, to the point, no greetings or anything friendly.
Sure enough, it was exactly what I had thought. Grandma passed away last night in her sleep and now she had joined my grandpa wherever they may be. Truth is, she had wanted to go for some time now. She missed my grandpa tremendously and had, more than once, wondered why she was still here when all she wanted to do was be with him. It always made me tear up when she said that because the thought of losing them both was just too much. They basically raised me and were certainly more “parental” than my mother was.
I really do not have anything but good memories of my grandma. She was always nice and never really got mad at me. Sure, when I was a kid she made me go grab my own switch off the tree for punishment (see, you can punish your kids without repercussion, Parents Who Refuse to Discipline Their Mongrels), but, whatever. I probably deserved it so why complain? I guess the one bad memory I do have, actually, is when I made her cry when I was in middle school. She was giving me a haircut and whatever she did was not up to my lofty standards so I got mad and yelled at her. She got upset and took off into the house, crying as she did. At the time I do not think that I cared or realized what I’d done. Looking back, it was obviously completely selfish and a completely dickheaded move. She was trying her best and doing what she could for me and I was a spoiled little prick about it. I never did apologize but I think in the grand scheme, it did not seem to bother her much afterward. She never brought it up again so hopefully that was the case.
I remember lobbying her for a Super Nintendo in the 7th grade and explaining just why I had to have one! Fairly certain there were some charts and graphs involved showing how I was doing my chores and getting good grades in school. Turns out, she had bought on for me already and was going to give it to me at Christmas. My lobbying was happening in July. Well, when I woke up the next morning, there was a nice new Super Nintendo waiting for me in the dining room.
At one point in my adult life, she also kept me out of jail, so that was nice of her as well. She jumped in at the last minute to cover the cost of me essentially getting caught for check fraud and it was not a cheap bailout. My grandparents also bought my first and second cars for me. At the same time, they also paid off my credit card debt though I did not ask for it. Naturally, I decided to screw myself over more and use them again the last few years, but, that is my fault and doing.I never understood why they offered that up and I felt terrible taking the money. Nobody in my family knows either and I aim to keep it that way, really. So, shhh, Tumblr! :)
I think my favorite memory is of us singing together down on The Property in Murrieta. Grandma and Grandpa owned 7 acres of land down in that area that they’d initially planned on retiring to. Since there was so much space, they had planted dozens of fruit and citrus trees. We had to drive down there every few weeks in order to water them and clean the place up. Grandpa would take a chair up on one of the hills and pick of ground squirrels with his .22 as well. We spent numerous Easter weekends down there and I always found the most well-hidden eggs and baskets.
During the weekends when we went down, we would walk up to the trees to water, Grandma and I. We would sit in the shade of the tangelo trees on concrete benches my Grandpa made at the shop singing together.
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are grey. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. So please don’t take my sunshine away.
I cannot believe I still remember the words to that…
Just thinking about that song, let alone saying the words, has made me tear up for the last few years now. Writing that down brought me to the verge of tears and, boy, is it hard to hold this all in so that the hipsters here do not silently judge me…
Now, I am left to my own devices without my grandparents. Grandma deteriorated quickly this year. Her mind becoming less sharp as she had less to do. My mother lived in the house, but, they did not speak. My mom would just lay in her room watching television all day while my poor grandmother - who could hardly move around due to her heart and lung problems - just sat in the living room day after day. No one to talk to. Nothing to read since her eyesight had likely gone almost completely at this point. She probably just sat there all day, eyes closed, wondering where the love of her life was and why he had to leave. I imagine she is better off now though, to be honest. She was not living any kind of life recently. In fact, she probably deteriorated the way she did because my mother refused to display any sense of decency and bury their past as her mother wasted away in front of her. A mind left with no stimulation falls apart quickly.
The worst part was that I did not make it up there the last couple years nor did I speak with her in the last month or so. Each time I called, my mother just said she was asleep. I never made a trip because I never took the time despite going to plenty of other places for the weekend. That means I am batting 1000 when it comes to not seeing my grandparents before they die. I did not go see Grandpa because I could not bring myself to see him in the state he was. Plus, he said he would probably be gone by the time I got there anyway so do not bother. He was always funny and witty even to the end. Grandma, on the other hand, I just did not visit. Subconsciously, I probably did not go for the same reasons. I did not want to see my poor, withered away grandma, I want to remember her as she was.
Well, death and all its finality has surfaced once more and there is nothing to do other than move forward. The world spins, people walk by and nothing has changed. I have to decide how I will interact with my family, if at all. This will certainly spiral into some kind of shit show and remind me of all the reasons I do not speak to most of these people.
I will miss my Grandma tremendously. I will miss talking to her each week and constantly playing along with her asking how my job in Beverly Hills is going since she could never remember where exactly I worked. How she would procrastinate every morning while getting ready for work and then how she would suddenly transform into a bat out of hell to get dressed in the last 30 minutes! I will remember how much she loved me and how far out of her way she went for me so many times in my life when I did not really deserve it. Most of all, I will just remember her for all of the good she brought to me and how she helped shape me as a person, for better or worse.
RIP Phyllis Bracci
You were in a dream of mine. I don’t remember all of the details, but, I remember enough.
We were walking through some kind of hallway, destination unknown. It was dark, lights were flickering around us as we made our way through the hall, hands intertwined. Eventually we came into a darkened room where a figure was sitting in the corner. After a quick glance we made our way to them. Turns out, it was a guy, about 20 years old, dark hair and pale skin. There was a glow to his skin, something wasn’t quite right but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
Unfortunately, this is all blurry and I don’t remember the conversation we all had. All I remember is the end…
“I don’t know what you’re searching for, but, it’s all for nothing. There is nothing out there after this.”
At this point, I figured it out – he had died and come back somehow. We happened to run into him as he got back from whatever other realm he’d been in. He was telling us that this life is all we get, there’s nowhere to turn afterward and nothing to look forward to.
A moment after he said this, we dissolved into the darkness and materialized in a field alone.
That was it. I woke up and tried to remember more, tried to remember the full conversation with the unidentified dead man but couldn’t. I don’t know what any of this means – if anything – but apparently you and I figured out the what happens once we die.
This. This is what I should’ve written last night, though, that would’ve been impossible since none of this had happened then.
I noticed the man walking toward me. The candles illuminated your face and made that smile all the brighter. The man continued ambling toward us, his belongings in tow. I glanced at him and saw his weathered face from his days outside in Santa Monica. His beard was scraggly and his eyeglasses were well worn. He walked by us without saying a word or even glancing up.I stood there, staring at each candle. At each photo. The chalk notes scrawled onto the sidewalk. I looked at your photos, frozen in time, realizing that this was all we had left now. These memories captured in time, perfectly framed around your smile and those bright eyes.
Some time later, I noticed the same homeless man walking back towards us. Your other friends and I stopped talking for a sec, long enough for the man to walk up to us and stop. In his hand, he had a flower. He still said nothing, we may not even have been there. He dropped it next to your photo, turned around, and walked away. I couldn’t even gather the strength to say thank you… It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
The first raindrops hit me while I stood there in silence, alone now. I’d finished my note to you and placed it with the rest of the flowers on this makeshift shrine to your life. Next, the thunder rolled in. I saw the first flash of lightning out of the corner of my eye and didn’t believe what I saw. Staring up into the sky I saw more flashes, heard more rumblings. The rain came a bit harder now, extinguishing some of the candles, washing the chalk messages away. Sadly, I realized that those messages will be washed away…just as we all are at some point. All that’s left is the memories held dear by those who loved you. I relit as many candles as I could to keep the flames burning longer…hoping to avoid the finality of it all.
I finally decided to leave around midnight. More of your neighbors came by. One of Sascha’s coworkers too. The 110 was closed so I had to drive through downtown. The parallels of winding my way through this broken part of the city, staring at decaying buildings under shitty lighting and cloudy skies and playing back all of the memories I could think of with you wasn’t lost on me. The memories are there, but, they’re not as clear as they once were. I remember you introducing me to Sascha and seeing how happy y’all were. I remember us sitting at the farmer’s market in Culver City, deciding not to work that day and just getting high. I can remember you encouraging me to smoke with you and your friend on the patio at Trocadero despite cops being parked twenty-five feet away! I remember calling you on Monday to say happy birthday, not knowing what had happened, and reaching your voicemail. I hung up and emailed you instead, still unaware, asking you to please let me know what you were doing for your birthday.
You left your mark on all of us. You will not be forgotten anytime soon. Peace, light, and love, my friend.
You know, you never wake up wondering who out of your friends isn’t going to make it through the day. You never think that someone you grew close to and respected won’t be there day in and day out. But, that’s the thing about life – you have no idea what will happen with each passing minute or day. And, that is the worst.
Last night, on her 30th birthday, my friend Claire was hit and killed by a car as she crossed the street in Santa Monica. She wasn’t jay-walking. She wasn’t dodging cars. She was walking in the crosswalk when someone who’s just shattered countless lives decided that he had somewhere to be that required him not to slow down as he turned the corner on Wilshire.
I met Claire while I was working on the west side canvassing for Grassroots Campaigns. We grew pretty close over the course of my tenure there and it got to the point where we went out into the streets together each day. I confided in her. Told her what was bothering me about the job and life in general. We’d hit our goals and then walk off somewhere and get high to pass the rest of the day away. The best days were when we worked 3rd Street Promenade – hit the goals early, relax at the beach, get blazed.
After I was fired, we stayed in touch through Myspace and then, later, Facebook. We didn’t see each other as often but when we did, we made it count. She came to my birthday. I went out that way for drinks. We all made plans to ride bikes down the beach together one Saturday afternoon. She finally got things ended/situated with her abusive ex and met her boyfriend Sascha. The guy was as cool as could be and I thought he was perfect for her the first time I met him. He made her smile that smile of hers like no other time I’d seen in the years I knew her. Oh, that smile… Infectious doesn’t even begin to describe it. Radiant. Beautiful. Lively. Those were it. Ear to ear and all teeth. She may have had the brightest smile of anyone I’ve known and now it’s gone thanks to someone who probably could care less.
I called her yesterday for her birthday. I wasn’t sure which number to use since they weren’t labeled so I used the one that seemed like a cell. She hated her phone and had it off most of the time so even though I had the number, we mostly spoke via IM and email. I got her voicemail and couldn’t figure out what it said so I freaked out and hung up! J I ended up writing her on Facebook and telling her to let me know what she was doing for her birthday so I could come out. Looking back on it, I’d noticed the pictures of her that people were suddenly posting. I think I even caught one of her photo surrounded by flowers and candles. But, I was on my phone and didn’t really make any connection. So, I naively wrote an email that she likely never saw. I never got to speak with her and hear her laugh and her oddly “always high” voice inflection. It was endearing and made her all the more pixieish.
I can’t pretend to know what Sascha is going through. Or, what her family is going through. Parents should never have to bury a child. They should definitely never have to bury one as full of life as she was. I always wonder about the people whose tombstones that have the same born and died dates. It pains me to now know that I can make a personal connection to that. Claire, I miss you. We all do. You were the brightest, happiest person I may have ever met. The world is a darker place now that your smile is no longer shining. I’m sorry this happened to you but I hope you’re at peace and sharing your smile with all that came before you. If you run into Kingyatta, say hi to him for me! Love ya, Claire Bear.
some dogs who sleep At night
must dream of bones
and I remember your bones
in that dark green dress
and those high-heeled bright
you always cursed when you drank,
your hair coming down you
wanted to explode out of
what was holding you:
rotten memories of a
you finally got
leaving me with the
you’ve been dead
yet I remember you
better than any of
you were the only one
the futility of the
all the others were only
Jane, you were
knowing too much.
here’s a drink
to your bones
- Eulogy To A Hell Of A Dame, Charles Bukowski
Oh, well, I didn’t know that today was his birthday. So, happy birthday, sir.