Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Rewrite: Dad laid down and went to sleep

Brother-Unit Grader Boob has returned to his own Home Land after seeing to the Father-Unit's cremation and memorial service, whose attendance was apparently mostly made up of beach locals:

"[A] waitress from their favorite eatery, the guy who does their lawn, their Mr. Fix-It, the brokerage guy from their bank, some guys he hung out with and drank coffee with down at the local BP station..." and a smattering of actual relations.  I'm betting that the waitress knew him best.  I'm betting he smoked when he dropped by at odd hours, alone, ordering some "regular" food item that she prepared just right.  He was a sucker for lemon pie -- maybe he developed a thing for the more available key lime -- the lemon pie was a specialty of his mother's.  Lemon Ice Box Pie.  Awfully graham-crackery and pucker::pucker tart.  But it was "hers" so we "loved" it, air quotes proving our citric credibility.

A scattering of his ashes is planned for Atlantic waters, and there don't seem to be a bunch of laws standing in the way.  Not like over at the western end of that state, where some weenies decided to regulate drifting cinders.  That was my first choice, somewhere (actually, "somewhere" very specific) along the Blue Ridge.  Then a California friend, a busy mother, ceramic artist, perpetual redesigner of kitchens -- but reportedly, by kin, even, a god-awful baker -- someone who eventually went to med school and, I'm willing to wager all my investment income -- income so piled high upon itself that it is seeping out of my Gringotts Wizarding Bank magical money jail cell -- solves more medical mysteries over coffee in her torn-to-pieces kitchen than in some speckled formica-ed San Franciscan examination cubicle...

My train.  That damned train of thought.  Choo!  Choo!***

Anyway, Margaret, this California friend, began sending me a local artist's series of Point Reyes note cards, a national park, a "national seashore." A shore, headlands, grasslands, beaches, a forest, even.  [I am notoriously challenged directionally... A trip up the PCH** meant the Pacific was on the left, the forests on the right.  The return trip required the PCH to be on the right, the woods to my left.  The weeping driver asking for directions, thank God, was *always* to my left, as The Great American Writer Wannabe refused to allow me to drive his Mustang.

Margaret wasn't campaigning that I scatter my ashes anywhere in our nationally shared Point Reyes park.  It just came to bright me, it came as a longing, as a fulfillment.  And it turned out to be a pain in the caboose:

• A permit is required for all areas. 
• Remains to be scattered must have been cremated and pulverized. 
• Scattering by persons on the ground is to be performed at least 100 yards from any trail, 
road, developed facility or body of water, and 440 yards seaward from the shoreline on 
the Pacific Ocean. 
• Scattering from the air will not be performed over developed areas, facilities or bodies of 
water and will be performed at a minimum altitude of 2000 feet above the ground. 

Just at that point in your After-Existence when you're looking for the few people left who love you to have a freeing moment, a laugh in the wind?  Bullet points.  And I gotta say, "pulverized" kinda kills the good mood. Of course, I suppose that if my already cindered remains were not put through some huge spice grinder, I'd shift from a figurative to a literal portion of the Giant Floating Garbage Patch.

I do appreciate, though, the posting of allowable driving speeds.  It reads like a marvelous poem:

15 MPH: 
• The unpaved section of Mesa Road 
• Oyster Farm Access Road 
• Mount Vision Road 
• Estero Trail Access Road 
• Marshall Beach Road 
• Sacramento Landing Road 
• Chimney Rock Road 
• The following sections of trails open for administrative vehicle use: 
• Sky Trail (from Limantour Road to Sky Camp) 
• Bear Valley Trail (Bear Valley Trailhead to Glen Junction) 
• Coast Trail (Limantour Road to Coast Camp) 
• Drivable sections of the Inverness Ridge Trail (Limantour Road to the Mt. Vision 
• Marshall Beach Trail 
• Stewart Trail (including Glen Camp Spur Trail from Stewart Trail to Glen Camp)  
• Lighthouse Road from the parking lot to the Lighthouse Visitor Center 
• Bolinas Ridge Trail 
• Randall Trail 
25 MPH: 
• Limantour Road (Sky Trail to Limantour Parking Lot, including the road to the southern 
parking lot) 

Yeah, so now?  Just put me in a cardboard box, mix with some perlite -- me and some Home Depot volcanic glass -- and plant something that you don't think I'd kill.

Brother Grader Boob wrote this about the Father-Unit:  "Sometime early in the morning of July 3, he got up and went over to his spot on the couch in the living room, laid down, and went to sleep and passed away. Mom found him when she came upstairs."

Photographic evidence shows that he was skinny beyond belief.  I doubt now that he strolled much on the beach, his front lawn, because he surely would have been lifted high as a kite.

I guess Brother-Unit Grader Boob has scads of photos and such to go through -- the inevitable gift to the family photographer (They've never seen TW's work). To lighten things up, and to make me snort coffee up my nose, he sent his "current favorite" of the degrading pictures:

I actually remember that day. We'd been out shopping for carpets for the Father-Units' parents, and someone clearly thought I looked great in shades of eggplant.  I hope to goodness that that was not the carpet we chose.  The box, I believe, was a gift from a stinky cigar-smoking uncle named, quite inappropriately, "Happy," and his wife, the lovely, sweet Doris.  It was a piggy bank.  Without the piggy.  It did some sort of magic trick -- you know, like it took your money and disappeared it.

The funeral, Grader Boob said, was very much against Father-Unit's will.  I wish I knew more as to why he did not want one.

You may not remember [!], but I dreamt of Dad's watch a few nights before he died.  In the dream, it was simply heavy, silver, and nothing special.  Here is a close up of the apparently meaningful item (no matter the number of times I insist on its ordinariness):

Various peer-reviewed studies suggest these interpretations:
--To dream of a watch is a symbol that you are too caught up in structure. Control, rules, and laws rule your day. You are unable to relax and let go. 
--A generation or two ago, a gold watch was the standard gift presented to a valued employee at retirement. So in this sense, a dream of a gold watch would suggest that something was coming to a good, satisfactory conclusion. Alternatively, any watch or clock represents time and gold symbolizes great value. Together they represents the value of time.  [Please note that, in my dream, there was no allusion to "gold" or "great value";  In fact, the opposite asserted itself.]
--Being late or early (or a fear of being so), short on time, or having too much time, or the idea of adhering to a schedule.

Oh, all right.  It's not hard.  I lost my time with him, I ran out of time, but maybe, maybe, maybe -- there is something that is timeless?


***One day when we were on the subject of transportation and 
distribution, it came Bolenciecwz's turn to answer a question. “Name 
one means of transportation,” the professor said to him. No light came 
into the big tackle's eyes. “Just any means of transportation,” said the 
professor. Bolenciecwz sat staring at him. “That is,” pursued the 
professor, “any medium, agency, or method of going from one place to 
another.” Bolenciecwz had the look of a man who is being led into a 
trap. “You may choose among steam, horse-drawn, or electrically 
propelled vehicles,” said the instructor. “I might suggest the one which 
we commonly take in making long journeys across land.” There was a 
profound silence in which everybody stirred uneasily, including 
Bolenciecwz and Mr. Bassum. Mr. Bassum abruptly broke this silence 
in an amazing manner. “Choo-choo-choo,” he said, in a low voice, and 
turned instantly scarlet. He glanced appealingly around the room. All of 
us, of course, shared Mr. Bassum's desire that Bolenciecwz should stay 
abreast of the class in economics, for the Illinois game, one of the 
hardest and most important of the season, was only a week off. “Toot, 
toot, too-toooooootf” some student with a deep voice moaned, and we 
all looked encouragingly at Bolenciecwz. Somebody else gave a fine 
imitation of a locomotive letting off steam. Mr. Bassum himself 
rounded off the little show. “Ding, dong, ding, dong,” he said, 
hopefully. Bolenciecwz was staring at the floor now, trying to think, his 
great brow furrowed, his huge hands rubbing together, his face red.
“How did you come to college this year, Mr. Bolenciecwz?” 
asked the professor. “Chuffa chuffa, chuffa chuffa.”
“M'father sent me,” said the football player.
“What on?” asked Bassum.
“I git an allowance,” said the tackle, in a low, husky voice, 
obviously embarrassed.
“No, no,” said Bassum. “Name a means of transportation. What 
did you ride here on?”
“Train,” said Bolenciecwz.
“Quite right,” said the professor. 

-- "University Days," James Thurber

**State Route 1 (SR 1) is a major north-south state highway that runs along most of the Pacific coastline of the U.S. state of California. Highway 1 has several portions designated as either Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), Cabrillo Highway, Shoreline Highway, or Coast Highway. Its southern terminus is at Interstate 5 (I-5) near Dana Point in Orange County and its northern terminus is at U.S. Highway 101 (US 101) near Leggett in Mendocino County. Highway 1 also at times runs concurrently with US 101, most notably through a 54-mile (87 km) stretch in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, and across the Golden Gate Bridge.
The highway is famous for running along some of the most beautiful coastlines in the USA, leading to its designation as an All-American Road. In addition to providing a scenic route to numerous attractions along the coast, the route also serves as a major thoroughfare in the Greater Los Angeles Area, the San Francisco Bay Area, and several other coastal urban areas.

SR 1 was built piecemeal in various stages, with the first section opening in the Big Sur region in the 1930s. However, portions of the route had several names and numbers over the years as more segments opened. It was not until the 1964 state highway renumbering that the entire route was officially designated as Highway 1. Although SR 1 is a popular route for its scenic beauty, frequent landslides and erosion along the coast have caused several segments to be either closed for lengthy periods for repairs, or re-routed further inland.

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