My dad showed up for lunch. Just like that. He walked in and said "Come on, Jen, we're going for lunch."

I got up. "Aren't you dead?" I asked. "We had a funeral."

"No, no. That was an administrative error. I tell you, those civil servants ..." And as I ate my grilled cheese, he ranted about overpaid civil servants like the death bureau and the income tax people and how they just don't even bother to check. They'll cheat you and never even care, because
they'll never have to deal with the consequences.

"But have you told [[stepmom]]? She's been wrecked!"

"Oh, she should have known better than to listen to them! I'll tell her this afternoon." His glee at pulling one over on someone was characteristic.

And when I woke up, as of course I did, not for even one breath of a moment did I believe there had been an administrative error. This is one tax collector my dad didn't evade.

zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)
( Jun. 3rd, 2009 09:33 am)
There's not much else can be said. We celebrated my dad's life yesterday, and cried a lot about his death. I'm still crying, of course.

I am overwhelmingly grateful for my family, my Tribe, and all of the friends who have surrounded me with their love and concern, and held me up this week. This is all very, very hard, but it would be immeasurably harder without you.

My stepmother would like a copy of the eulogy I delivered. Unfortunately, the written version doesn't actually correspond very closely to what I said. I'll have to reconstruct from what I can remember.
The eulogy I think I might have delivered )
Writing a eulogy for my dad is possibly the most difficult thing I have ever done. At the very least, it's the hardest writing job I ever hope to have.
And these are the things I did not say )

It's been a dreadful, nightmarish blur, the past few days. A few things stand out. I continue to think that funeral homes are the weirdest places on Earth, with their tasteful furniture arranged around the outside of big empty rooms. Ours had a Tasteful Bookshelf, stocked with the Catholic Book of Worship, a copy of the Bible, one of Loyal She Remains, and a collection of demure-looking cloth-bound murder mysteries, tastefully arranged.

At the reception at my dad's Club, yesterday, some old guy came up to me, and to my brother separately, and informed each of us that he had known my dad longer than we had—40 years or more—and that he would therefore miss my dad more than we did. He didn't actually tell us who he was. Speculation runs rampant.

I remain convinced that open-casket visitations are just a Bad Idea. The body never looks like the person did, living, for the very good reason that the person is dead. So you have to look at the body and try to reconcile this construction with the memories of the living person. The cognitive dissonance does not help with the grieving process.

It's always macabre when you hear a knocking on the walls of your visitation suite.

I have more thoughts on blogging, community, and death, and I'll get those down later. For now, I'm going back to work tomorrow, and I'll continue with my slog through this liminal phase in which I (and my family) get to readjust our understanding of the world. The shape of my emotional landscape has changed, and I get to figure out how to readjust the furniture.
zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)
( May. 30th, 2009 12:34 pm)
To everyone who commented or e-mailed, texted, IMd, or phoned, or otherwise sent condolences and support: thank you. I know I don't have to thank you, or respond at all, but it means a lot to me to know that my communities, local and remote, are there and are thinking of me and my family.

To those of you who have asked if there's anything you can do: I really appreciate the offers, and will absolutely let you know if I need anything.

Today I am at my mother's, escaping my step-family and being doted on. I'll likely head back to my dad's once I've raised the step-family on the phone, but really, they don't need me or my brother for much, and are politely trying to find things for us to do. I can be more use at home, doing the memorial cards with Sabo., or phoning those family friends who
The funeral details are:

Visitation

Monday, June 1, 2:00–4:00; 7:00–9:00

So-called Celebration of Life (apparently, that's what atheists have, instead of funeral services)
Tuesday, June 2, 3:00

R.S. Kane Funeral Home, 6150 Yonge St.

We received the Coroner's report yesterday: he had a massive heart attack, and was dead before he hit the water in the bottom of the pool (no water in his lungs at all). So at least he probably didn't have time to feel too much (though, of course, we'll never know). This is a small comfort.

Things I Need to Do Today:
  • Write something to say on Tuesday
  • Do up memorial cards, and find printer
  • Get hair trimmed
  • Ask stepmother about whether she has phoned various family friends
  • Ask stepmother about flowers
  • Eat, sleep, get out in sunshine, etc.
  • See some friends ... my family is oppressing my spirit, despite everyone's best intentions
zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)
( May. 28th, 2009 11:14 am)
I woke up this morning to the kind of phone call you never want to wake up to.

My brother had been calling my cellphone, which was, of course, dead and downstairs. There'd been an accident. My father is dead.

My father is dead.

It's true, but it really doesn't seem like it should be. Of course it doesn't.

I woke up this morning, and found myself in the middle of a police procedural. My brother came to get me. We went to my dad and stepmom's house, in their nice suburban neighbourhood. Where there were police cars. And police officers. And a body in the swimming pool

...

There had been a chipmunk in the pool. My dad was worried that with all the rain, it would drown. So he went out to make a ramp for the chipmunk. My stepmom was in the kitchen, and wondered what was taking him so long. She phoned his cellphone and he didn't answer, so she figured he'd gone for a walk, or shared a glass of wine with the neighbour, or something. So she went to bed.

When she woke up in the small hours, he still wasn't there, so she got worried, and went out to look for him.

She found him in the 18 inches of water in the bottom of the swimming pool. Dialed 9-1-1.

We waited, while police photographers photographed the pool and the body, while forensics officers looked around, and recorded, and measured, and did their thing. Then a sergeant came to tell us that it was very slippery in the pool, that there was no evidence of anything amiss (except for the dead person), that the funeral home would transfer the body to the morgue, that we'll hear from the coroner or maybe the police when they know anything for sure. And please if we can stay out of the back yard until they tell us we can go into it, they'd appreciate that.

Then some people took the body away, and we were left staring at each other, and at the business cards left behind on the ktichen table by coroner and police officers.

She never heard him fall. Never heard him call out. We don't know what happened. I mean, yes, my father died in a freak chipmunk-related accident, but we don't yet know how or why.

There are a zillion things to do, and we did some of them today: visit funeral home, decide on cremation, rent a casket, write the obituary. Other things, we will do tomorrow and the next day and the next. There will be a funeral service (called a "Celebration of life" for our atheistic family). We need to plan that. There will be visitation. There will be a reception at the Club where he golfed. There is a plan to deal with the ashes (it involves sneaking out to do something mildly illegal on a golf course.) There will be life insurance and the will and helping my stepmother to deal with his stuff. Once the autopsy is done and the coroner's report made, we switch from the police procedural to the boring family drama, for which we make up the script as we go along.

There's the monotony of grief and the discombobulation that comes of confronting the reality that I really should have phoned him last week and that a whole bunch of things will never happen now, and I was not ready for this at all. Nobody was. He wasn't. I mean, who dies rescuing chipmunks?

I'm okay ... inasmuch as anyone can be at a time like this. I'm tired: waking up at 06h00 in that particular way is not conducive to an overall feeling of restedness. I'm sad, of course, and bewildered, and shocky, and I don't quite know what to do, because this is the part where there's nothing anyone really can do (yes I have eaten. Yes, I will sleep). I'm fighting the kind of guilt that comes when you meant to call someone and they up and died (with, or without, chipmunks) before you did. So, I guess I'm not really okay, but I know where okay is, and I know I have to get through all this in order to be okay again.


Who dies rescuing chipmunks, I ask you?
.