Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Passing Dad.

I passed my father last week, even though he had passed long ago.

We had, or actually I had, counted that the time of his injury at General Electric (10/9/75) as he beginning of his illness, and that one moment changed the family dynamic so much that those few of us who remain could be living in separate galaxies for all the communication there is.  My father died on 10/19/79.  That's 1461days.

I count my version of the disease from December 5, 2009 and here I am now four full years with this version of MS - Demylination Disorder - or whatever I want to call it.  Since however many millions on the planet have this disease in some form or other, we should be free to call it whatever we want.  The MS Society and their money toadies would rather keep things as they are, and their coffers full. Anyway, since my legs gave out at the end of my spectacular Michael  Jackson tribute at my office's Holiday Party, its been 1500+ days.

Yay, me.

But how long did the disease(s) just sit in my system, or my father's, just waiting to strike?  My neurologist said that  a severe shock to the system  can trigger the disease.   I suppose that watching molten steel setting you on fire would count.  I was about to write that I wondered what my father thought at night in his bed, but I never really did.  I was too scared.  I would  never know when he would just walk around the house at three in the morning demanding to be fed.  Even writing those words brings sadness.  I am ashamed at some of what happened.

One night in1979 he was sitting at his assigned chair in the kitchen and was watching something on the television.  He was wearing a flannel shirt, jeans that were now way too big, and slippers.  His hair was long and disheveled.  He smelled like lightly spoiled milk.

I came into the kitchen and grabbed a soda, ready to dash back to the other end of the house.  I was 22, graduated from college,with no job, and blamed the guy sitting in the chair.

My father said he'd like to ask me a question.  Great, I thought.

"What?", I said.

"What's wrong with me? Why am I like this?"

I had been doing some research at the Albany Medical Center in their library and some kind librarians showed me some books on neurology.  I looked at symptoms and compared to what I saw every day.  It moved me to Creutzfeld-Jakob disease.  It seemed to fit the criteria, and when my father was finally hospitalized, that was on the diagnosis sheet (Yes, I peeked.) But I spared no pain when I told Lou  Martin.

"You've got Creutzfeld-Jacob disease.  You've got about six months."

And I only had to deal with  him for six more months. I popped my soda can and left the kitchen.

I've left my mother out of the action here because she was at bingo most of the time.  We were the three bears - one crazed and scared, one angry and scared, and the other one crazed and angry and scared.  We lived in separate dens, each nursing wounds that would not heal.  But the roaring would always find a way to start.

This is my penance.  My parents are gone, and I carry both their burdens within me.  I have grown compassionate about all those people, here and gone.  May they find peace. All of them. Me too.     You too


When I was a wee lad of Lansingburgh, I spent much of my time on my own.  My brother and sister were much older than I, and more of a babysitting burden for their hot rodding and rollicking 1960s world.  But I can't complain.  I had models to build.

I got the bug from my brother, I guess.  We had a storage room above our kitchen (servant/slave quarters of another time) and my brother had his ships there, just lined up on the floor. Spanish galleons, battleships, destroyers all there for inspection...and bath tub sailing.  This last was an error on my person, but hey I'm seven years old, what did I know? My brother was not pleased, and I was lucky to not be pummeled by him.  What I did get was his ability to his craft, whether it be boat models or suped up Camaros.  He could fix any engine anywhere and any time, and people from Lansingburgh and the environs came to his garage for help, and talk.

I started building models, usually cars but now and then something like the picture above.  That's the Frankenstein monster from the 1930's classic films.  It's done in oils.  Like I did the first time when I was about thirteen.  I threw it out when I went to college.  I'm all grown up.  I don't this crap.  So.... model cars - hit the road, boats - you're sunk, planes - just take off.  They all went.  The toy box went to my nephews, and whatever was in there was now theirs.

I did keep one tank, and it went where I went:

This is a Panzerkampfwagen IV from WWII that was put out by the Monogram Company in the late 1960s.  Those two tank soldiers have been in or on that steel trap for 40 years or so.  I was never sure what my fascination was with the Wehrmacht, but I was now a teenager, and just going through the phase.  I also had motorized Patton tanks, just to keep things even.  So this tank was the only won to make the trip here to Malta, but now the guys are joined by others:

I guess I've wandered back into model building because 1.) since I have to slow down anyway, I might as well enjoy it.  The hand is a little shaky so painting is slow. Good. And 2.) I have a place to put them up where they can be seen, at least by me.

Now the Monster up at the top of the column is a redone version.  A local toy shop stocked models and one day I saw the Frankenstein - Boris Karloff version - and it seemed much more expensive ($30) than when I first got it ($4).  All the same parts, so I did it again in oil paints with the skin a tint of green. There  it was, back on my shelf.  It looks like the Monster will be the only reminder of the model days and Dracula, Wolf Man, the Mummy and company, well, thanks kids.  With all the crap that MS hands out, completion of tasks is problematical.  So a well done is best celebrated, and not duplicated.

Which brings me to the star of the show:

When I was in my chuck it or give it away stage, I dumped all my GI Joe stuff. And had The Original Joe (who was not ready for action because my dog got him first Christmas morning) and a lot of the accouterments including the Mercury Space Capsule.  I gave it all to a friend at the time, and I had pretty much wiped out my childhood.  Except where it counted. Oh, sure I got the GI Joe holiday ornament and now Joe twists around and hangs off an evergreen tree.

I met my old friend at a local business and we e-mailed some things back and forth, and he was impressed with some of the stuff I still had, and I, his stuff. It made me look more at what I did have and what I did not have.  With parents gone and the rest of my family keeping their distance from the weird one who lives in Malta, it was up to me.  I've noted in the blog before about my trips back to Lansingburgh and the writing that has come of it.  I enjoyed it all, and told myself that there was a way back home, for me, anyway.  Look at this:

The GI Joe space capsule has come home, with a little help from Ebay.  And yes, that's a TARDIS be hind it.  The capsule (and the only kind of castle) makes me feel young and healthy again.  And I bet it still floats in swimming pools.  

You are every part of your life - good, bad, ugly, wondrous, loving, disgusting, hatreds and kindness.  Do I need these trinkets to remind me of that? NO. I know I came through a fire, and am still kicking, though not as hard.  The tanks and planes, and GI Joes remind me that I had some wonderful times, and that its all of a piece, with more to come.  I just have to add in a few more naps. And take my pills and go to aquatic therapy.  All of these "things" will be there when I get home.