And Then It’s Been Over A Week

The false alarms ceased.

Last Monday night, the 27th, my older sister, the second oldest of us kids, passed away.

Surrounded by those who loved her the most, and the ones she loved so dearly, the meds were shut off and she drifted off into a sleep and then away from us all.

I wasn’t ready for the feelings of loss. I wasn’t ready to see her kids and grandkids feel her loss. I wasn’t ready for the reality, the tears, and the funeral.

Between her death and her burial was the funeral of my uncle. It’s been a tough couple of weeks. I still not sure how to capture the emotions, to make them make sense. I can’t nicely tuck away the hurt, the anger, or the sadness. I also know life must go on. I really don’t want it to.

I hate that so many around me don’t have to deal with it. Even within minutes of learning of her death, I had to endure smiles and laughter around me. Almost too much to bear.

My sister is gone. Never to hear her voice. Never to read her crazy facebook posts. Never to finally spend those moments remembering back when. Back when we were kids. Back when we were young parents. Or now, now that were old parents.

I couldn’t find the words to share this past week. Forgive me. I still don’t exactly know the words to share now.

My sister was a hell raiser. She burst out from our Mormon upbringing and broke all the rules. She drifted in and out of our lives as trouble came and went in hers. She live in, what seemed to me, chaos but brought out of it five wonderful nieces and nephews for us all to share.

Her last days were good and bad, as the ICU goes. Would she make it, would she not? Some moments it felt like minutes left, others like she would be done with it all and be ready to go home and on to the next concert.

Her last night, however, was mine.

After sending the exhausted other people home to get rest, I promised to stay with her through the night and to stay up for her should she need anything, or should something change. Everyone left.

For the next several hours, my sister and I visited, just the two of us, in-between her sleeping episodes. We talked of old times, we spoke of new times, and we laughed at the stupid late night hokie westerns on the TV. She seemed strong, ready to beat this thing, and she made me believe during that long night that there would be others. There wouldn’t be.

In the early morning, things turned. She wasn’t quite as with it. The doctors words weren’t so encouraging. Her voice got lighter and her breathing got heavier.

That afternoon and into the evening, she said her good byes to everyone individually- although at times we weren’t sure if she thought maybe it was just good night she was syaing. She told the group, “I love you all.” And all sounded back, “we love you too”.

And then she was gone from our lives.

My uncle’s funeral was a short, graveside service only- as he requested. The military sent him off with a gun-fire salute, taps, and a presentation of the colors to his son.

My sister was memorialized two days later in tears but with laughter as we reminisced and shared our version of her with everyone else.

I don’t feel either summed up who these people were and what they meant to us. But how can any service do that?

It just doesn’t seem right that life without them just goes on.

 

Post # 4-007

False Alarm

I thought tonight was the time I would say my final good bye to my sister.

Her kids surrounded her, the setting sun shine through the window, and she seemed so weak and frail.

Yet it wasn’t to be this night.

My sister, always one to do things the way she would do them, rallied and got stronger as the evening wore on.

A false hope? Perhaps. But a reprieve from feelings and a situation I do not feel ready to tackle.

I’ll take it.

Post #4-006

Salmon-chanted Feeding

First a word. In this case “first”.

And then another, and another, and another. Before long, there’s a sentence. And then a paragraph, even if an improper one. And just like that, the writing has started all over again.

So much has happened since my last post, it would take like a year to fill it all in. So I won’t. However, this year won’t be so lucky, nor undocumented.

So welcome back to both you and me. I’ve missed you.

At the time of this writing, an uncle is finishing his run. Any day now the call will be received of his passing.

An unprecedented effort is currently being spent in the Pacific Northwest to preserve a particular Orca, J50, and the pod to which she belongs. Antibodies and dewormers are being injected. Live salmon are being released to secretly feed the young whale, and everyone involved is hopeful that the plight of this one whale turns people’s attention and care to preserving the ecosystem of our oceans.

Upstairs, new neighbors are moving in. A new start in hopefully a healthy apartment staircase community. One never knows at the start where the series of events leads. Will it be good, or will it be bad?

Where am I in my career? Definitely not the start. I’m too old to call anything a start.

The end? I sure hope not.

The time to relaunch? Yes. It’s time to pick up the race one more. I’m not Whale J50; but I’m hungry for salmon.

 

 

Post 4-001

 

 

Diminished

Hey Kids,

A key staff member gave his notice today.

And by key I mean, master key. The operations of my staff have come to be independent on the talents he brings to the team. The loss is staggering.

He came as a custodian. Worked his way, through excellent ethics and willingnesss, to learn things outside his daily duties. He became the guy everyone wanted on their team. He learned fast, he worked hard, and he always made the job for those around him easier.

He rose to the undisputed leader of his new team. No one questioned his mastery of the process and program. If he said it was so, it was so. He pushed himself to know more than his team’s duties, but expanded to other groups and how their work connected back to his.

He was smart. A refugee from another part of the world. He studied, took the exam, and became a citizen of the United States- the first country that would ever call him its own.

And when I thought my opinion could be no higher, he abandons all that he has worked for, moves to another part of the country, and starts all over. Why? To care for an elderly in-law, a grand parent.

What some do with nothing to start with, embarrasses those who, like me, still worry about who travels in what lane, compares the size of pizza slices to fairness, and gripes about who left too many lights on at the house.

This staff member won’t just be missed, but the soul of the team has been wounded.

 

Post 3-158

Positive Negative Cash Flow

Hey Kids,

Last weekend, at a thrift store, I found an item that was marked for $5. I was familiar with what the item was, and that it was worth well above the asking price. I bought it as a matter of investment.

A quick search showed this item selling for anywhere from $40 and more.

My plan was to list this item and make a small profit.

I realized that the young couple who live above us might have use of it,

I showed it and seeing their excitement in the possibility of it being theirs, I gave it to them.

It was some of the best negative profit I have earned in a long time.

 

Post 3-152

A Personal Shame

Hey Kids,

At the age of 8, I knew sheet rock. I was paid as a scrapper, hauling out all the discarded parts and pieces. I didn’t pound the nails into the studs to secure the paper-lined “chalk” boards to form the walls of the homes and buildings that my father was building but I watched. By the time I reached 12, I had enough lead in my butt to be able to carry and stock the sheetrock and studs. I continued to learn and by then, I understood how buildings came together.

At age 14, I found myself atop bulldozers and front end loaders. I worked at an Alaskan gold mine. I learned about mining and gold; about machinery and maintenance. I learned about fuel, oils, and hydraulics. I serviced motors of all kinds and sizes. I understood how pistons, valves, and diesel injectors worked together.

After school, I spent a couple of years in France and learned French. I learned of international travel and of borders and of customs. I saw my own country and culture against the light of another. France does not represent every other culture in the world, but from being there, I learned a perspective that has helped me make friends from all over this globe.

In my early twenties, I trained on wind turbines. I learned electrical systems. I learn high voltage systems, I rebuilt gear boxes, and discovered rigging.

Later on in life, I learned steam systems, HVAC controls, and industry specific knowledge that landed me a column in a national magazine.

My head has been filled with understanding of all kinds.

But at age 51, I’m ashamed to admit, I cannot figure out how to fold a fitted sheet.

 

Post 3-144

Brought and Taken in the Wind

Hey Kids,

The wind blows from the south tonight.

This usually means a storm approaches but the forecast says otherwise. Instead this wind brings with it warm temperatures for the weekend, sunny skies, and blue skies.

The windows have all been open and the pulses of wind that cause the drapes to breathe in and out like the sides of a dragon in a deep sleep, bring with them the dust from parts unknown.

What carries on the wind? Perhaps the dust of a gravel pit, or the dried dirt of a construction site. Or perhaps the mountain that once stood great after being thrust into the sky from an ancient force from the core the earth, now weathered and softened by the winters of millennia. Within this dust carries the shores of an ancient ocean, of the remains of its inhabitants. A volcano’s blast might also be mixed with the dirt caught on the grid of the screen door.691e80fd1f9f0d637cc02177b6831dba

Each gust of wind carries with it, the geologic memories of the earth.

The wind carries with it this night, other memories; memories of times not so ancient. Memories of smiles and laughter, of little hands, and kisses good night.

The mountain is not the only thing tonight being ground by the sands of time blowing on the wind.

 

Post 3-132

For Those who Dare

Hey Kids,

In French it’s: “La vengeance est un plat qui se mange froid.”

Or in English, or Klingon, it’s: “Vengeance is a dish best served cold.”Klingon_Symbol

Vengeance is payment sought for the misactions of others. Or at least actions that don’t agree with oneself.

It’s not the “drinking from the skulls of your enemies” type of vengeance that’s the most common (unless you’re Klingon), nor or the misactions in the realm of burning down the village of your ancestors. Instead I find other drivers who choose not to drive as I do, change lanes when I would, or, how dare they, go a different speed than I deem best for them to travel.

I wish upon such transgressors the issuance of a ticket, the curse of being trapped in traffic behind an 18 wheeler, or the dawning of the realization of their presence in the such a superior driver. Or at least the admittance of their inferior skills- possibly the best punishment of them all.

I find I get angry a lot lately. Things don’t go my way and I wish retribution.

Make me wait; I will curse you.

Buy the last of that which I wanted’ I will devalue that which you have.

Be happier than me; I will pray for your demise.

Don’t hold the door open for me; I will not hold it open for the person behind me.

Vengeance is a plate best served cold because it’s a dish you shouldn’t want to partake.

I need to relax and live and let live.

And as fun as drinking the blood of my enemies might sound, it’s the better person who settles for a nice iced tea, to let the others do as they would do, to maybe even slow down and let them through.

Aimer est plus fort que d’être aimé. To love is better than being loved.

Unless, of course, you’re a Klingon.

 

 

Post 3-130

To Thyself Be True

Hey Kids,

Loyalty. What exactly is that?

Devoted. Obedient. Trustworthy. Stalwart. Supportive. Safe.

People are loyal to family and friends; all others are secondary. Blood is thicker than water, it is said.

People are loyal to country. Death before surrender, death to all against.

People are loyal to brands. Buy no other, tell others by word of mouth, or by t-shirt.

People are loyal to routine. Practice makes perfect.

Loyalty is usually earned and maintained. The family never betrays, a country grants freedom, brands never disappoint, routine produce results.

It’s easy to be loyal.hamlet

Except to oneself.

Earn your own loyalty and be everything you respect in others.

 

Post 3-128