I went to a yoga class yesterday, with my friend Andre. The first time in two or three years. We did a relaxation period, more so a Corpse Positioning. Relaxing the body through our breathing. I cried a little bit; I couldn’t help imagining what my grandfather experienced the last 2 or 3 days. This slow drift and shutting down of biological systems is tragically beautiful, and I wonder whether this has ever been captured in a piece of music.
I am sad. It’s 4:45 pm. I am returning to this after one long day of Interference of Experiences. My memory won’t render as clear as I would desire. But then again, it’s these moments in life that need to be crystallized in Lagerstatten form, since they are fundamental tipping points in your life. A point where there is a threshold of transformation of the Phoenix, from death to rebirth. The memory switch is on. Very, very on. Highly resolved “on.”
It was 730am on November 13, 2008. I was kind of expecting a phone call. Actually, I was expecting a phone call. The sun came up from behind the houses across the street and was beaming brightly into the room. I was sweating a little bit under the sheets of my sleeping bag. I had consumed some pumpkin bread and frosting the night before. Consuming sugar and fat makes me sweat. I stared at my new neon green cell phone several times, wondering when the call would come.
Thankfully my sister called me first. Not my father. He’s pretty graceless of informing me of poor news. Like last year, he called me 930 am and kind of bitterly told me that my grandmother Marion passed. My day was shot since then.
It is too bad that I do not remember the exact phrasing of my sister’s words, but she transmitted vital and necessary (and highly descriptive) information: (1) Ray passed on Wednesday November 12, 2008, 11:55pm (2) He passed peacefully (3) Jenny and Bub were there, holding his hand to the very end (4) Jenny continued to talk to Ray saying that we all love him, though he was in acoma, I am sure he was registering information. My sister explained to me that the condition of acoma is when the somatic brain detaches from the body such as to be unconscious of pain, but the visceral brain is still operating to keep the viscera alive. Thanks to Dr. Sweet, I am dreaming about larval tunicates. Don’t ask right now. Back to the proximate subject at hand. Since Jenny and Bub arrived in the evening, his breathing rate shifted when they first arrived though he was in acoma. (5) Jenny said that my father, Bub, was in part fascinated by the process. We biologists are already in terms with the notion of the Inevitable. Stupid to deny it. Almost like a spectator event of watching a human pass. That is so tragic for me to say, but I am sorry but my family is a little geeky to find all processes of life as fascinating, and sometimes our curiosity can take over the mourning component of a grieving situation. It’s absurd, but I am not ashamed of the absurdity. (6) Essentially the passing of my grandfather proceeded much like a sequence of multi-factorial layered cartoon diagrams of skull evolution or vertebrate development by Dr. Sam Sweet: the simultaneous process of my grandfather’s lungs filling with fluids, the heart becoming weaker and failing to pump blood to the entire body (blood wasn’t reaching the perimeters), hearts skipping beats, from continued struggled, labored breathing to blips in breathing (few second pauses), to shallow breathing, to longer and longer intervals between shallow breaths. To a stop. Lungs. Heart. Pulse. Gone. Ship sank. Engine designed by evolution stopped. Shxt. Ray. Dxmmit. (7) My father told Ray to “Have a good journey. Go see Marion. Go join Ralph and Otto and Dora.” Otto and Dora were Ray’s parents. They died tragically, rather early in life, so I remember. Both of their passings were very close. I think Ray gave me an essay written by his mother, or potentially Marion’s mother. It was all about life on the farm. Late 1800s. (8). My sister lectured me on religion and stuff for a few moments, but I couldn’t help thinking how Heaven is a useful construct in the head to keep all your Memories of Passed Ones tended to in One Centalized Place, as opposed to the actual remains of the corpse. Marion’s ecologically recycled in the ocean and Ray will be feeding a sugar pine up in Mt. Baldy. Heck, I’ll buy into it. Everyone will have a different construct of what Ray and Marion and the Gang up in Heaven are doing, just as Armand Kuris challenged me to the notion that everyone constructs their own God. My father is not religious but he’s pretty efficient at dumping his pigeonholes into a Heaven Basket in his brain. He needs to move on, just like we all. I want to give him a hug right now.
Jenny just called it “the other side.” I like it. The Other Side. The Unknown? Does it necessarily have a Stamp of Religion on it, or could I just keep it Unknown?
I am absolutely devastated but strangely excited to have a first Ghost in my life that embodies the symbol of Ray. Ghosts open up doors to creativity that are far beyond the rules of Reality. And I am very intrigued to explore this, though I won’t let the concepts obsessively take over my mind. Ray is an immense symbol of universality, and it just a huge part of my life that will allow me to thrive in the dimensions of environmental media.
It’s funny, as I am writing now, I still feel like the process of passing is happening. But it's funny. "Ray is dying. He always was dying. We all are dying." I am sure that was a Fight Club Phrase.
(9). I suppose that Jenny told me other things, but I guess these are the vitals. Jenny and Bub had the last laugh as they discovered the barebone stinginess of my grandfather—all the way to his “grave”—as they had found out that Ray’s requested place of cremation was called “Affordable Cremations, Incorporated.” Shows the whole stinginess of the entire family. I told my friend, Tariel, one time, that though my parents after very different, when you peel the layers to the core, they are both very pragmatic, real-world, and very stingy. I suppose, in the end, to all our own benefit. Runs in the family, to the exponential degree. It’s Absurdity and Beautiful Tragedy at its best. This family does not place financial value on emotional value such that the different of cost is a few thousand dollars for a wedding ring and a funeral. Value does not have to reflect artificially and externally in financial costs, but it is fundamentally embedded with the depths of all our mind’s hearts and how we family members treat each other.
It’s funny. I rarely write about my family in a direct sense, and now that everything has shifted since my grandfather’s passing, all details that were once desensitized backdrop now come into full light. Death makes you appreciate and build upon all that you have, rather than dwelling all the things you have not.
After my phone conversation with Jenny ended, I proceeded to call my mother and father. Bub added to some of the details as described above, and my mother discussed the symbolism of Trust and Lost Values. My mother is even frustrated interacting with people her own age. Ever since her mother Kiki passed, she felt like she lost the last major Island of Trust on this planet. And I am starting to understand how it feels. But then, it seems like this craving for trust transferred to some degree to my grandfather, Ray. Working the land and enduring through the depression, he acquired this ability to say what he means, do what he means, say what he does, and means what he does. Everything in his thought patterns are highly synchronized and precise. Whereas today? I struggle in my own Fragmented Self to keep, thoughts, emotions, intentions, and actions highly intertwined to the highest possible degree of Truth—as aided by my writing. Mama ended the phone conversation with two primary comments, which I have heard her state a few to many times before—except this time I thought needed to be documented in high precision: (1) I would rather receive trust and approval from one wise person than receive trust and approval from one million fools. (2) If you are okay with yourself, you are okay with everybody.
It’s a harsh way to start the day, but as I said, lots of things occurred that generated interference effects. Life is waiting for me to resume its course—but not exactly in the same direction. This Passing surely has altered my Perception of Reality in a great way.
The more I rewind the clock in my head, the more and more I come to realize that my venture to Long Beach on Tuesday (the night before) was probably one of the wisest decisions I ever made in my life. Though I was sad I would not be able to have a decent conversation with Ray, I would still get to be with him in his remaining blips of life. When I arrived, he opened his eyes and acknowledge my existence through the mumbling of a few words. And that was all I needed.
The governance of the human body couldn’t do it anymore. The immune system was in crash failing. But then again, Ray had been winning a battle against exterior forces for 96 years. You can’t win all the time, I guess. Becoming a functional, unified whole is not feasible forever. I guess biological systems are too high to maintain forever. Heck, modern medicine has been extending all our lives from 30 years to 100 years.
I remember spending the night at Ray’s house one time. It was a good night. He watched television as I worked in the kitchen, and we had sporadic conversations here and there. Ray should have never lived alone the last year. He should have lived with Uncle Dwight. They were only a couple of miles away anyhow.
Hi Scott--I just wanted to drop a line pardoning my lag time in filming--my grandfather passed last night and the degree of chaos in my life (from family) could not be cleanly sculpted into a piece of ceramics. I just imagine whether the aftermath of an avalanch could be displayed in a piece of clay or a carving of wood. My mind appreciates heavy metal music these days--though I was raised on classical. I hope things will calm down enough such that next week I'll be up and running again. I hope everything is well with you! Big Hug, Victoria
No one really cares, Vic. So don’t check your email. Okay???
The passing of one individual leads to the aggregation and increased closeness of all live individuals within a family. (This cathartic ritual of preparation)—no dancing to the gods—maybe my mom in her mind. Through loss, you gain things like the need to take strong foothold of clarity of thought, like closeness of family).
I have a new grandfather now. His name is Uncle Dwight. You lose something, and your mind craves to gain something else. I will be visiting him on Friday afternoon. He said “I love you” on the phone, and I said “I love you too.” I rarely use the word, but I was so touched that he used it. I am one of those people who sincerely feel that if you use the word “love” it masks the detailed nuance of human relationships. But I felt this “I love you on the phone,” which my grandfather Ray rarely stated—which I am sure he has—sealed the essence of this new relationship and hierarchization of human interactions in my life. Uncle Dwight is just a chipper, cuddly, creative, innovative, sociable, left-handed—go figure—close brother of Ray’s and it’s downright hard not to love him. I am so proud to be related to him. I tell Jerry Lyn and my cousin Mike Dillin how I am so proud to be related to the Uncle Dwight and Dillin lineage of the family. Though my cousin Mike Dillin and I share no blood and have been acquired relatives, I could say I love him and he’s probably the coolest, most intelligent, witty cousin that I’ve got! So, now I have some form of shifted hierarchal structure of the family in my mind.
Just last Thursday, my grandfather was a functioning individual, playing peanochle at the park and recuperating from the last two month’s of ordeals—sickness induced from hospital conditions rather than a minor muscle pull in his back—but then it all went downhill so fast, in one week.
Ray had faded, just as my thoughts in this journal are fading and becoming more and more choppy. Then intermittent in mental breaths and heartbeats... now to a momentary... halt.
But at least this "halt" is not forever.