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4:34 a.m. - 2006-08-08

THANKS

Hey gang.

First off, thanks so much for all the comments, emails and yes ... even cards (Erika).

I'm still waiting for flowers, ya cheap bastards.

But your words of encouragement and thoughts and prayers REALLY REALLY helped me.

I'm so glad I took three months off from doing this.

I'm so glad I quit the DamnHellAssKings thing because that was just bringing in quite a few people (not all) who were basically assholes and I just wanted to share this spot with the nice people.

It's 4:30 in the a.m. and once again ... I have been awake for the last two hours which is par for the course here lately.

I'm handling Mom's death very well. It wasn't really a shock when it happened other than the fact that I was told the night before she had a few more months left to live.

Here's what's weird ... and humor me for a moment or two ... I like to tell this story:

Here's how the coroner said Mom died.

For the last six weeks or so, Dad's gone to wake Mom up, help her out of bed and basically carry her to the den where she would either watch TV or read the paper if she could.

The day she died, she was going to surprise Dad and get up by herself before he could get in there. She felt strong enough to do so.

She had a tumor wrapped around one of the arteries to her heart. Smoke for close to 50 years and you'll get tumors in places you didn't know you had. Trust me.

Anyway, she either

A) sat up wrong or
B) sat up too fast

And the tumor snapped her artery in half.

So when Dad found her, she was "gushing blood" (Dad's words) and saying she needed help.

She knew she was dying at that point and told both Dad and my niece that she was aware that she was dying.

But rather than give any profound last words, she choked to death on her own blood.

So that's the coroner's version anyway.



The memorial service ... looking back ... was a hoot.

Mom was cremated so there wasn't a casket.

And she wanted a very private memorial service. All of her immediate family had already passed away and the only people outside our family was her best friend since childhood and her husband.

The service was last Sunday ... wait ... two Sundays ago. Not that it makes much difference but I don't want to mislead anyone.

The whole morning we were all in pretty good spirits, but we kept putting off the inevitable which was picking out photos to display and the music for the funeral.

We knew she wanted "Amazing Grace" by Judy Collins. That was her favorite song.

And luckily, Mom's childhood friend who had travelled from Illinois to S.C. brought a gospel CD I had made for Mom a few years ago which Mom made a copy of and sent to her friend.

So, about 30 minutes before the service, my sisters and niece and Susie started going through photos to find decent photos of Mom.

All of five minutes was spent on that daunting task. Mom woulda been proud.

Okay ... lemme back up here a minute.

Earlier in the day, for some reason, Dad brought out this plastic Walmart bag FULL of prescription medicine that Mom had been taking.

And there were about ... ohhhh ... 15 pill bottles full of Xanax.

So Dad decides he'd better pop one or two just to make it through the service. That's cool. Nobody was saying "No Dad ... don't become a pill popper!"

Then I voiced my curiosity about Xanax as I had never tried one.

Dad tosses the bottle my way.

In about ten minutes, with the exception of Andrew and my 10 year-old nephew, we were all pretty loaded on Mom's Xanax.

Here's the conversation at Dad's house for about an hour.

"Hey".

"Hey".

"Hey".

"Heyyyyy".

"Heyyyyyyyyyy".

"Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy".

You get the drift.

So we all get to the funeral home and the guy's all "I'm so sorry for your loss and ... "

"Hey".

"Hey".

"Heyyyyyy".

And we were all like Xanax Zombies, thanks to Mom.

So during the service, the guy's up there saying "She was a loving woman and ..."

And we're all sitting there stone-faced staring at him with glazed looks in our eyes.

And he HAD to be thinking "What is with these people??"

I sat in the second row behind Dad and my sisters and niece ... and none of us shed a tear.

We listened to this guy talk about Mom, play her favorite gospel songs, stared at her pictures ... and we were all so relaxed and laid-back from the pills that we must have looked like a bunch of slack-jawed hillbillies waiting for the moonshine to be passed.

Afterwards, Mom's friend wanted to see her body.

I still hadn't seen the body because we got to South Carolina after everyone else had already went.

Dad recommended not seeing her.

But once her friend expressed interest I was all "Well, I don't want to be the only one who didn't see her!"

So ... and I was expecting this to be a private viewing ... "You go first and I'll go in when you're done" kind of thing.

Nope ... Susie, me, Mom's friend, my sisters, my niece ... we all just piled in there.

And Mom looked damned good.

She wasn't embalmed or anything because she was getting cremated and why waste embalming fluid, right?

But her hair had grown back since I saw her in May and she looked much better than I was expecting her to look.

I patted her on the head and told her I loved her.

I would have kissed her forehead but ... well ... I've seen WAYYYYY too many horror movies in my day and I just couldn't bring myself to do that.

The LAST thing I wanted was my Mom to be a total zombie and have her eyes fly open and have her gnaw my neck off as I went in for a last kiss.

THEN ... I think Mom's friend noticed or picked up on my desire to share a kiss with her.

Share a kiss with my Mom ... not my Mom's friend. Just want to clarify that. Mom's friend isn't really my type because she's kinda ... old and frail. Smells nice though. Still working that Jean Nate' perfume like it's nobody's business.

But Susie was standing right there and Mom's body was right there and ... seriously ... it just wasn't an appropriate time for me to be making out with my Mom's 65 year-old friend.

Anyway ... Mom's friend kissed her own finger and then placed it on Mom's forehead.

AHA!!

THAT'S how you kiss a corpse without people calling you a corpse kisser!

At this point, you don't wanna just immediately go in for the finger kiss because someone else just did it, and while being called a copycat isn't as bad as being called a corpse kisser, you're still going to be the main topic of conversation in the various cars other than your own as they're pulling out of the funeral home parking lot.

"That damned Uncle Bob! I kissed my finger and smeared my saliva on her forehead and then he did the exact same thing! THE NERVE!!"

So I waited on everyone else to leave and I'm proud to say that I was the last member of my family to see her.

I had trouble pulling myself out of the room.

Not literally.

It's not like I had accidentally stepped in an errant puddle of tar or anything.

But it was like "Okay ... this is the LAST time you'll ever see your Mom. Suck in this vision and this memory as much as you can because this is it."

So I stood there by her head.

Then I moved kinda to her mid torso and got a view of her from that angle.

I looked up her nose because I know she hated that. She had always said she wanted to be cremated because she didn't want to be in a casket and have everyone looking up her nose.

Her nose was clean.

No traces of cocaine there.

Before this could turn into a really bad episode of "CSI" I quit staring up her nose and just said goodbye one more time.

I did the finger kiss thing because only Susie was left in there with me and I had a pretty strong inkling that she had enough couth to not berate me the entire trip back to the house by calling me a finger kissing copycat.

I got misty-eyed then.

I walked out of the room and there were two guys there in suits. Had they been wearing sunglasses, I woulda thought they were Secret Service agents.

I didn't know what to say to them, but I somehow wanted to communicate the fact that I was the last one to leave that room and if they wanted to, they could put Mom wherever it was that they needed to put her.

"That's it," I said. "I'm the last one."

"We know," one of the guys said, looking all somber.

By the way ... what kinda suckass job would that be? Being the guy in the suit at the funeral home? You can NEVER be cutting up at work and you just watch people either cry their eyes out or stumble around like Xanax Zombies all freakin' day long.

Hats off to any of you guys that may be in the funeral home biz.

But damn man ... explore your options in your next life.



Anyway ... everyone held up really well, we all went back to the house and told Mom stories until we couldn't tell Mom stories anymore because we couldn't think of anymore.

Dad's taking it hard.

He says the worst time of the day is from 6-9 p.m. because that's when they'd watch "Wheel of Fortune" and whatever else comes on in the early evening and play those games together.

And he has nobody to talk to.

He has her ashes in a box on the fireplace mantle and talks to her that way.

It sounds kinda weird, but it's actually kinda sweet.

I'm doing really really well.

The ironic thing is ... Susie's dad is currently on his death bed and from what the doctors have told us, he won't make it to see September.

So we kinda have to go through all of this again within a matter of weeks.

I'll write more later, I promise.

Not later today, but later.

And soon I'll be back to my cranky-assed self.

But thanks for letting me be me for a little while.

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