My father is a tremendously sweet guy and a genius, he told me years ago about the infatuation with death that arose in Americans after the civil war, when so many souls were lost. We were looking through a newspaper from the 1870's. The entire reader submission page was made up of odes to lost loved ones or trembling love songs to the dead. There were ads for death horns to bury with your loved ones in case they weren't really dead, churches, and cure all medications in between. The whole thing was pretty morose.
So my genius dad who
is entirely self taught tells me that after the civil war, people
became obsessed with making sense of death, because there was just so
much of it going around. The most pressing problem that everyone wanted
to busy themselves with wasn't figuring out how to stay alive so much
as dealing emotionally with all of the inevitable death. It was all
over the place, dripping into cribs and gliding over windowsills,
creeping silently down streets and alleys and hiding in the crevices
around door frames.
One of my great uncles dropped dead
the other day. That's two in the last month and a half. These losses
weren't emotional events for me, understand, they were both very old and
I didn't know either of them well, although I spent a nice two weeks
visiting with the formerly dead one some thirty years ago.
claim that when they're faced with death, their whole life flashes
before their eyes. I think that whenever we're faced with anyone's
death, our whole lives flash before our eyes. We're narcissistic
bastards, after all. So when my second great uncle in a month bit the
dust the other day, I immediately started thinking about MY life.
Because I'm a narcissistic bastard human being, and not a robot.
like my life alright. I'm being stripped of ancestors by time and
that's fine, that's how it's supposed to go. I will be sad when my dad
goes, because the world could always use more sweet and smart men. My
brother is sweet and smart though, and while he's not related
biologically to my dad he's in as good a position as any to maintain his
My dad paints a little, the first time I
tried acid I stared at a painting of his for hours. This was 1990 and
the picture hung in the two bedroom duplex he shared with me, his
friend, and a village of mice.
The painting looked 3D,
of course, the imagery was astounding to my acid addled brain. I've
looked at the picture in the years since and although it's not
impressive I can still dredge up respect for the painting based on that
night spent sitting in front of it gasping at every shadow.
I'm just trying to say that the only death I'm afraid of is my dad's.
Everyone else in my family can fuck right off. My dad's death won't
kill me, but it will effect me. You know?