Thursday, March 21, 2013

Shamananana Nanananana

Winter lasts longer on this side of the lake. At least it seems to. And we've been traveling in the ice and snow more this year than we usually do. If I had a ceremony or an incantation that would end the winter now, I'd use it. If I were a shaman, I'd construct a complicated mechanism, a string of batteries maybe, to jump start the sun.

My father died in the winter. He was in a hospice in Mississippi, where he had a warm room with big windows and four beautiful women to change his pajamas and his sheets every night, laughing and singing while they put the old man to bed.

When he lapsed into a coma, we drove over from Houston, and he was still alive, but breathing in a labored way that lifted his shoulders off the bed with every wheezing breath. We sat with him for nine or ten hours, talking to him and wetting his lips with a piece of gauze, soaked in cold water.

I was holding his hand when he suddenly opened his eyes and squeezed my hand, and I said hey, he's awake, then no, he's gone as he died. And I felt that something had just left that body. Took one last look and moved on, leaving me next in line.

For an entire year after that, I had a recurring dream. I dreamed I was being roasted slowly, like a pig in a pit. The strange thing about the dream was it really hurt. I could feel the intense heat from the coals, charring my skin. It took a year for the fire to burn my skin away and prepare me to carry on in my father's place. And he was a very ordinary man.

3 comments:

gasket said...

Mourning is an idiosyncratic thing.

When my friend's husband died, she wore his clothes for an entire year.

When my mother died, I invented a ritual of homage to her on the F train as it rounds a bend aboveground between Carroll and Smith/9th. For a brief moment, you can see the Statue of Liberty, and I looked for her (Lady Liberty, I mean) both coming and going, day and night, no matter how crowded the train was.

My mom never visited me when I lived in NY, because we were both too poor and I never had the space to put her up. I think my ritual was a way to finally bring her there.

For some reason I will never know, she had gone to New York City once with a friend in the mid-70s. I found her pictures of that trip when my sister and I were going through a box of family photos after she died. Among them were a few Instamatics of Lady Liberty, taken while riding the Staten Island Ferry.

Billy Glad said...

Small world, gasket. I know exactly where that place is you can see the lady from.

"He grabs the number six train to Bleeker Street and transfers to the Coney Island F train. He stays at the end of the car and reads the Voice. On the way to Coney Island, the train comes up above ground for two stops. At the first stop, a saxophonist gets on and starts to play. While the train is above ground, Julian sees the Statue of Liberty way off in the distance. The musician starts collecting money. Julian gives him a couple of bucks and, suddenly, he realizes the guy was playing Nature Boy. The melody lingers in Julian’s mind long after the musician is gone. A very strange enchanted boy. The greatest thing. To love and be loved in return."

Antepilani said...

And I'll be there for you as well...

However, I liken myself to a druid-- which is good, there's only room in this family for one shaman.

Don't fret, there is nothing ordinary about you my friend.