July 2nd, 2003

self portrait (escher)

a bit more

Still keeping the scope very small here. I'm able to compose my thoughts now, but there really are too many.

fair warning:
If I ever need to cry on cue, I've found four triggers recently which completely take away my ability to function as an adult. This post contains two of 'em.
    My cousins chose the most awful picture of Dad to put on the funeral programs. It printed badly, but the source material was no better. And what's strange is his brother thought it represented him better than the one I went with to display at the entrance, which captured his warmth and humor with a half-smile, the way I'd want him remembered. This other one wasn't that, and it wasn't the intimidating presence my friends will remember, either. It was just someone else. I think the photographer should lose camera priviliges over it. But, despite all that, it's what some close relatives felt best represented him. Wierd.

    I'm convinced that this picture is what the embalmer had to work with, 'cause their work came out hideously wrong too. But I think I'm glad he didn't look natural, for my own sake in trying to get over this. No room for illusion. The man's not sleeping. (it would've been out of place anyway - my dad had terrible insomnia...)

    Before we closed the casket to carry him out to the gravesite, we slipped a poem my older brother wrote back in elementary school into his coat pocket. Dad carried this around in his wallet for as long as anyone can remember, so we thought he should have it. My younger brother added the gold medal he received when his chorus won that big international competition last year. I wasn't expecting that. Myself, I only had words, and most of them left me.

    "Keep watching, Dad. I will make you proud."

    So, that's been my focus, and how I justified going back to my artwork without a respectful period of lethargy. It's melodramatic and hints at an inferiority complex, but this wasn't an empty promise. I don't make those.
  • Current Mood
    drained drained
self portrait (escher)

Variations on a theme

This one should be lighter than the last.
More thought, less emotion.


Today would have been Dad's 60th birthday. I don't think we had a big party planned or anything. Maybe. People never seem to tell me I'm involved in such plans until the last minute, and then insist that I've known for months. Who knows whether the fault lies with them for not telling me, or with me for not internalizing it properly? (remember Sammy Jankis...)

    At the funeral, a few people mentioned the little-known fact that Dad used to perform magic. Not professionally or anything, but he wasn't bad, and he enjoyed a lifetime membership to the Magic Castle which has probably now expired. (Talk about adding insult to injury...)

    Anyway, this mention was a serious vindication for me, because he'd do tricks to amaze us as children, but when asked to repeat them years later, feign confusion and insist I'd imagined them.

    I don't know if this amused him, covered the shame of being out of practice, just let him go back to what he was doing, or if he wanted that to remain in the realm of childhood memories so the magic would stay real. Whatever the motivation, he always stuck to this story.

    Thus, I don't know if revealing that I hadn't imagined it would have disappointed him, or if that was always intended to be part of the game. (Was this your card?)

    Then again, maybe they told me months ago, and the fault lies with me for not paying attention.
So, yes. That would probably be why I've never implicitly trusted my own perception, but I'm not convinced it's a bad thing.

A related example:
    I met with an old friend who had driven out for the funeral, and had breakfast together before seeing him back on the freeway. We chose McDonalds, to try these new McGriddles sandwiches everyone's talking about. Two bites in, I was trying to hold back tears at the thought that "Dad would have liked this."

    And then I laughed, because he really wouldn't.

    He was curious at the hype, but would never have deliberately eaten this, and if he had, I can guarantee you he would not have enjoyed it. At best, he would have liked that I was eating it because it'd make a good segue for him to tell the story of my hot-fudge chicken sundae, or some other culinary masterpiece the world will never understand.

    This despair I was feeling because he'd never get to try the new McGriddle sanwiches at McDonalds? A rediculous projection.

    But for a moment there, I had fooled myself.
Hence, it's sometimes useful to call your own sanity into question. If left unchecked, these sorts of imagined reminders would tear me to shreds in no time.

Anyway, in lieu of a birthday celebration, we'll be having a nice dinner in his honor. If you want to do the same, it's a decent excuse to treat yourself well. Have a glass of wine - preferably good.


This just added...
    ugliness warning:
    If you're at all close to the subject emotionally, you might want to give it a few weeks before you read the comments on this entry.


I just screened most of the comments.
  • Current Mood
    thankful thankful
self portrait (escher)

short and sweet

At my older brother's wedding some years back, well-meaning relatives kept approaching to tell me "You're next."

Dad's funeral was the first time seeing a lot of them since then, and I can't tell you how much willpower it took to not return the favor.
  • Current Mood
    would it have been so wrong?