Stop Work Order

April 4, 2010

I spent a good part of Friday night face down on the floor, crying. I drank two beers, started talking about how I was going to commemorate my father’s death date this year, realized I had already missed it by 3 weeks and lost it. I got myself together, but then realized that I needed to not do that and excused myself to the bathroom, where I promptly pressed my cheek into the cold tile and cried my eyes out.

We had decided to go out for the first time since we’ve been here. Just us, to this bar with some art up. I was drinking Delirium Tremens and she was enjoying a breakfast stout, we were circling yard sales in the classifieds. The bright idea was to start attending Alanon meetings on the anniversary of his death. I really liked this idea.

I mean, I still have a good portion of his ashes in this house, somewhere. And I’m OK that I dont have a strong leading as to what to do with them. They can wait. Last year, I variously ignored, anticipated and avoided the anniversary of his death. I kept putting off looking it up. I mean, I looked it up with a couple of days to spare, but then forgot it when it actually rolled around. And that’s OK, too. It’s not like I don’t have 40 years to practice remembering the day he died.

I still couldnt tell you when it is, though.

The bartender there was the lady that cuts my hair. Or, who has cut my hair twice. I told her why I was crying and she was very supportive and thoughtful. Explaining, from experience, that the date your father dies actually has very little real-life significance. I mean, of all the things that happen the day your father dies, why would the date be among the most memorable?

“But we went out to dinner for your brother’s anniversary! How could I forget?!” I wailed at my wife. “It’s OK honey, you don’t have a family to remind you,” she said.

The other thing is that I think about him everyday. And I thought about what I was going to do differently on the second anniversary of his death every other day. I actually wanted to do things differently. I had two big reminders, too. Her brother’s death anniversary is just two weeks before my dad’s and my mother’s birthday is one week after. Fuck, Friday afternoon I was fucking filling out a grant application through a foundation at my agency trying to get his funeral bill paid off.

So, yeah.

Typically, I am, if not in control of, at least aware of the machinations of my mind. The pulleys and pistons of the mind are vast and uncharted, full of the clicking and popping of ancient mechanisms.

The past few days have been full of craziness in every category. Apparently, according to her aunt, Wifebian has a half brother and her biological father was probably gay. Next up on the crazy train, Wifebian’s step-grandparents are getting divorced at 90 and grandma moves out tomorrow. Finally, this is my last night in the home of the mil.

It’s been a nutty month for my clients too:  a house fire, a death, and a looming eviction top the list. It used to be that my most concrete accomplishment was helping a 16 year-old mother of one get an abortion. But now, I can add something less heart-breaking to my resume.

I’m working with a 19 year old whose uncle died a few days ago. The county hospital is paying for the cremation, but they put the ashes in a plastic bag which gets put in a plastic box. Considering that cremation is against the religious beliefs of the family matriarch, signing off on it only to be handed a very heavy plastic box would probably suck. My client and I called everybody: Catholic Charities, the local department of social services, the local health department, city hall, several local funeral homes, the social security office, and the offices of state representatives and elected members of Congress — nobody administered burial assistance funds.

But then, we got a call back from our representative in the state legislature. Four hours later we were meeting her in the parking lot of the local Arby’s picking up two checks for $200.00 which was enough to cover the cost of a real urn. Go-go gadget social worker!

On the cerebral side of things, experiences like this sit the injustices of capitalism right in your lap. When most people think about funerals, they imagine putting a body in a casket and then putting the casket in the ground and then putting a headstone on top of the ground. But that scenario is actually a luxury reserved for rich people because that costs something like 15,000 or 20,000 bucks and I think I’m being generous with that quote because I dont actually know. Poor people, on the other hand, get burned up in furnaces and stuffed into plastic boxes that resemble desk top trash cans. In this neck of the woods, that’ll put you back about 1500 bucks and the local government pays for it, but not anything else. This, I know.

If you want to plant a flower you have to buy it, if you want to grow a vegetable to have to buy it, if you want to eat food, you have to buy it. And if you want to bury a loved one, you have to buy that, too. If you want to have a baby, you might have to buy that too, but thats another post for another day, isnt it?

When my dad died, I had to foot the 2000 dollar cremation bill. The cemetary where his father and three siblings are buried offered to open up his sisters grave for free and just put the ashes in it. I ended up buying the urn off of Etsy for a hundred bucks, I shit you not, and although one of his brothers is worth more than a million dollars, and said he would pay for a foot stone, but he never did, so my dad’s grave remains unmarked. If all goes well, Ill be done paying the funeral home in 8 months — two and a half years after he died.

Le sigh.

So. This brings December to a close. A month of mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles and grandparents, but no son or daughter for me.

I emailed the sperm shop tonight to find out if they have the motility, morphology and sperm count for our donor, as well as the number of unsuccessful cycles with his number on them. I asked if his sperm is IUI ready and found a local fertility clinic that might be able to do the trick. We have enough money for just three tries in 2010, so, with my first try behind me, I’m gonna have to quit it with the naivete and hubris and get down to business.

Some savvy and humble business.

A Quick Update

December 22, 2009

To say that I spoke last night with an uncle. My biological mother is one of eight and he is the youngest. We talked for two hours. He said that she is not happy that I’ve made contact and that she wants the past to stay the past.

My compassion is about run out and I am starting to enjoy the hot center of my rage on this here issue. I thought by being an outspoken, smart, feminist type, that I would somehow avoid the pitfalls of repressing and then regurgitating gobs of anger in my old age, but it turns out I have about 20 years of being really pissed at this bitch to sift through and savor.

He on the other hand is the baby. Who never had children, who has never been sober for more than year, and has the sweet, soft, melted heart of someone who hates himself everyday. He reminds me of my dad.