Archive for the ‘death’ Category

Meet Charbon

Posted: May 26, 2017 in death, Pets, Sadness
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“Charbon” is French for coal. He came into my life last August when I moved into my rented room in August of last year.

He was the cuddliest cat I’ve ever known. Many is the afternoon when I lay down for a nap, only to fall asleep with his purring in my ears. He was a lover, and I don’t think there was anyone who didn’t like him.

charbon1

Charbon died Wednesday night. I will miss him.

Rest in Power

Posted: June 22, 2016 in death, homophobia, LGBT

Untitled

Never forget their names:

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old

Also killed this week, trans women Goddess Diamond, 20 years old

“When will they ever learn?
O, when will they ever learn.”

 

Mama, take this badge off of me
I can’t use it anymore.
It’s gettin’ dark, too dark to see
I feel I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door.
”Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” Bob Dylan

I first heard that song in 1973, when I was saw the movie “Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid.” It was a simple tune, and quite easy for me to learn on the guitar.

Kelly St. Clair, Jr.

Kelly was my partner in the security business we bought and renamed “T & S Security.” The “T” was for his daughter Tanya, and the “S” was for my daughter Suzzanne. They were the same age, and both of them less than a year old.

Because Kelly and I were business novices, and hadn’t exercised what we would later know as “due diligence” when we bought the business, we soon realized that it wasn’t bringing in enough income for us both to live on. So I gave up my half of the business and found work elsewhere.

We drifted apart, and I didn’t hear from Kelly for another 4 or 5 years.

I knew how much Kelly loved his daughter; he had told me many times that she was his reason for living. I, too, loved my daughter, and had hoped that the girls would grow up to be friends.

In my late twenties, the clinical depression that runs in my family manifested itself and I ended up in the hospital. My roommate? Non other than Kelly! It turned out that he had shut down the business and moved his family back to their home village of Hoonah, where he was employed as the chief of police.

Over the next two or three days we caught up, sharing stories of what we had done in the intervening years.

Finally, Kelly was discharged, and returned home.

Mama, Take This Badge Off Of Me

The next day, the head nurse, who was also a friend, told me that Kelly was dead.

It developed that when he got home, his wife, with whom he had been arguing, told him that Tanya, the light of his life and sole reason for existing, was another man’s child.

I never knew the truth of the matter; all I knew was that upon hearing the words, Kelly Frank St. Clair, Jr., the closest friend I have ever had in my life, took his .357 magnum revolver, placed the muzzle against his chest, and pulled the trigger. The hollow-point round exploded his heart, and he died instantly.

Knockin’ on heaven’s door

A few years later, I had the opportunity to visit Hoonah on an unrelated subject. Before I came home, I hiked to the cemetery and found my dear friend’s grave. I had brought my guitar, and standing over the grave, I sang the song I had learned all those years ago:

"Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door"
Bob Dylan

Mama, take this badge off of me
I can’t use it anymore.
It’s gettin’ dark, too dark to see
I feel I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door.

Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door

Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can’t shoot them anymore.
That long black cloud is comin’ down
I feel I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door.

Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door

I’m sorry about the long wait between posts. I got a new computer and forgot the password to this blog, so I couldn’t update it until today. So much for Robyn’s First Rule of Computing, which states “Be Paranoid and Compulsive.”

My Father: A Study in Selflessness

Posted: April 21, 2016 in death, Family
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A Memoir

(The transcript of the eulogy I gave at my father’s memorial service)

My father once apologized to me and said, “The shoemaker’s kids go barefoot and the baker’s family goes hungry.” He was commenting on his 27 years as an Air Force chaplain, when his duty frequently took him away in the middle of the night to comfort a family which had just lost its father, or to tell a wife her husband wouldn’t be coming home from the other side of the world.

There was a time when his duties required his absence from my birthday—for seven years in a row. At the time, I hated him for it, and it took me years to get over that anger. Now, what little hostility I still feel is directed more properly at the US military establishment, which never seemed to have learned the truth of Milton’s words, “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

My mother personified those words. He was absent from the family once for 15 months: his duties took him to Turkey for that time. My mother became for a time a single mother attempting to raise three children. Thank God for grandparents and aunts!

I understand that after her passing, Dad spent hours weeping over her grave, apologizing for what he saw as the hell that his job put her through.

He grew up in a hard time: the Great Depression. A time when roles were fixed, and people “knew their place.” On the other hand, I grew up in the ‘60s, and lived through the Nixon years. Dad was a lifelong Republican; if anything, if you need labels, I’m an anarchist. After Viet Nam and various other wars and “incursions,” I take everything my government tells me with a grain of salt. Don’t agree with me? That’s your right, and I’m not going to argue the point with you. Besides, you don’t scare me—I grew up in the ‘60s….

….which also entitles me to say, at the age of 65, “I may be old, but I saw the best bands!”

But regardless of anything a psychiatrist might say about my relationship with my parents (“Oedipus, Schmoedipus! I love, ya, Ma!”), the fact remains that they were my parents, and I loved them. And the best thing that has happened to me in a very long time happened last week, when I telephoned my father and we resolved our differences and effected a true reconciliation. For that, I am extremely grateful. Our last words to each other were “I love you.”

My father was greatly esteemed in his communities, both the Air Force and the church. I can offer no better proof of this than two stories.

Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr. was the first African America to reach the rank of general (4-stars). When he died, at his widow’s request, my father performed his funeral.

When Dad finally retired from the Air Force, and he and Mom were traveling around the country looking for work, he was unable to find a parish in the Pacific Northwest, which is where they wanted to settle. Finally, after they had settled in Lak Jackson, Texas, he learned that the reason no one would hire him was that the bishop of Texas had called all the other bishops and told them not to hire him, because “He’s mine!”

I know my father was disappointed that none of us followed him into the ministry. While I can’t speak for my brothers, I know that in my case it was because the shoes he left were simply too big to fill.

Obladi, Oblada Life goes on

Posted: April 15, 2016 in death, Diet

I guess my father’s death hit me harder than I first realized. It’s been over six weeks and I’m still having trouble with it. Since returning home from the funeral, I’ve been grocery shopping twice, and other than that, the only times I’ve left my apartment is to see my therapist or to go to my Friday morning job. Oh, right: I puppy-sat Fyona last week.

But except for rarely venturing outside, I think I’m behaving (mostly) rationally: I’m eating properly, baking bread when I need it, and have become more serious about my diet. No, not a weight-loss diet, but rather diet in the sense of what I regularly eat,

I’ve become a vegetarian. Again

I was a vegetarian for a couple of years back in the ‘70s, and for some unknown reason gave it up. But while I was manning (would it be more accurate to say “womanning”?) the Gay Alliance table at the Nazareth College Health Fair a couple of weeks ago, I chatted with the women at the KickStart Rochester table. I had earlier decided, for economic reasons, to cut out meat from my diet, and I hit them up for information. They were vegan, but I’m not ready to make that drastic a step yet; I like my dairy products too much to want to give them up just yet.

Coffee Without Creamer?

My mother-in-law stops on the way to work every morning for a cup of coffee. She’s done this for years, and always orders the same thing: a large coffee, with two sweeteners and two flavored creamers. One morning she was running late, and when she got her coffee, she drove off without realizing that they had messed up her order and left out the creamer. She didn’t have time to go back and have then fix their mistake, so she drank it as it was.

She liked it! She decided that from then on, she was going to drink it without creamer.

So what’s the big deal? The big deal is that by simply eliminating the artificial creamer from her coffee, she lost 4 pounds in one month. Compare that with the sign by the elevator at Strong Memorial Hospital, which says that by walking up a single flight of stairs instead of using the elevator will cause you to lose 5.4 pounds—in a year,

My creamer ran out last week, and I’m not replacing it. I’ve already stopped using Splenda® and started using Stevia®. Both of them cost about the same, but I only need to use half the amount of Stevia®. Instead of creamer, I’m using skim milk. One ingredient instead of 20 or 30 chemical ingredients.

But since I’ve given up flavored creamer, I remembered that I don’t particularly care that much for coffee! So I’ve gone back to tea. And since brewing a decent cup of tea is a bit time-consuming, that cuts back on how much I drink.

I also have to watch the time. For example, it’s 9:00 pm as I write this. I’d dearly love a cup of tea—I haven’t had one all day—but I know if I have a cup this late at night, I’ll have to stay up at least another hour while the tea makes its way through my system so I can download it before bed.

And my sleep has been terrible lately, and that’s given me migraines.

So the tea will have to wait until morning.

And I shall close this entry on that note and say, in the words of the great Samuel Pepys, “And so to bed.”

Thanks for stopping by,

Robyn