Posts Tagged ‘uncle’

And Then She Went

November 21, 2017

And got a car.

Holy shit.

I did it.

Not without a bit of hand holding.

Thank fucking god for my friend who came with me.

Just having another person there was super helpful and I didn’t feel quite as overwhelmed as I think I might have had I gone alone.

And.

Well.

It was hella nice that I had a female sales person.

The person who I had been working with to set up the deal ended up being out sick and I got another sales associate, and she was super sweet, very accommodating, and really helpful.

I had really already done the majority of the work, so it was just signing the papers, coordinating with my insurance company and doing the test drive.

I was nervous about driving the car, I won’t lie, I haven’t driven a stick shift in a while.

But it was just like riding a bike.

I had no problems using the stick.

Yeah!

That’s right bitches, I got a manual transmission.

Which is one of the reasons the car was on sale and that was fine with me, I know most folks like an automatic, but this lady learned on a stick and I love the control I have in the car versus driving an automatic.

I learned on a Ford Diesel station wagon how to drive stick.

My mom taught me.

It was horrendous.

Let me make no bones about it.

She was not the right person to teach me and getting screamed at while stalling out the car at the four-way stop intersection in Windsor Wisconsin is a trauma I may well never forget, she did, however, eventually teach me how to do it.

Or she at least installed the fundamentals.

I actually feel like it was my Uncle Jeff who taught me how to drive.

My mom was bitching about my inability to get the mechanics of it at a Thanksgiving dinner with family and my uncle piped up and said, “I’ll teach her.”

And like that we were getting bundled up in coats and out the door.

I remember there was snow on the roads, and they were a little slippery, but we were not anywhere close to any other cars, and it was Thanksgiving, most folks were not getting in their cars to go anywhere, most folks were still digesting their food and watching the Packers play Detroit and wondering if they might be able to sneak a sliver more of pumpkin pie in their bellies without exploding.

I remember the truck cab was really cold and the  stick was huge, he had an old Ford.

He told me my mom was too worried about me ruining her car to relax, he didn’t give a fuck if I hit something or killed it, it was an old truck, he was fine with me beating on it.

And in that moment I felt a huge burden fall off my shoulders and I could breathe again.

He also explained a bit better to me the feeling of what the clutch did underneath my left foot when the truck wanted to shift into another gear and I could feel it much better underneath the big clutch on his car and the much smaller one on my mom’s.

I started it, popped it into first, shifted into second, got it up to speed in third, managed to not slip on any ice or snow and we drove around for a while.

I had a great big grin on my face.

I got it!

It made sense, I could feel it and sure enough, the next time I took out my mom’s car I was able to do it and I’ve been successfully driving a stick ever since.

My first car I bought on my own, with money from detassling corn four summers in a row at Kaltenberg Seed Farms–I had gotten a bonus for perfect attendance, was a Honda Civic, stick shift.

Then after that car died, it really went quick and I didn’t have the money to fix it, I got my first car in a relationship in my early twenties.

We went in halfsies on an old Jetta that was a stick.

I really loved that car.

It died soon after my boyfriend and I broke up, but for three years it was a great little car and I think we only paid $500 for it.

And when the Jetta died my boss at the Angelic Brewing Company sold me his car, a two door Honda Accord that I had for three years, also a stick shift, when he upgraded to an SUV, which were just beginning to get a lot of attention.

All the cars I have owned have been manual!

But this.

THIS.

Is my first brand new car!

I have never spent more money on a car.

The Honda Civic in high school was $500 used, the Jetta $500, the Honda Accord my boss sold me I think I paid $1200 for.

This time my car cost $12,000.

But seriously.

A new car for $12,000 is fantastic.

I, of course, did not pay the full sticker price, no way I could have.

I put $2,000 down and my car payments are going to be $186 a month.

l also pre-paid for six months of car insurance.

I just felt better doing that and I’m going to have to pay it and then I left myself room with my money, I didn’t spend the entire $5,000 I pulled from savings, nope, I gave myself a year’s worth of back up payments with that money, in case anything happens, I’ve got a year of payments stacked.

I don’t have to make my initial payment after this until January and when I do I will pay more than the $186.

I do want to pay it off faster than the loan terms, which would stretch out for six years.

But I also don’t want to hurt myself by throwing all my liquid cash at the car.

Which was nice.

I had some left over to take my darling friend out to lunch on Shattuck Avenue.

And where we parked made all the hairs on my head tingle.

We were directly across from the hotel that I stayed at when I first traveled to Berkeley to meet up with a friend and get myself reappointed with the Bay Area.

It’s not a hotel anymore, but I recognized the building and it felt so amazing and synchronic and auspicious.

Lucky, you know?

I could never have imagined the life that I created out here in San Francisco when I was sitting in that hotel room on the phone with my friend from Wisconsin trying to tell her that I had found where I wanted to be and that I was going to move to San Francisco, in fact, I was seriously considering not coming home and just leaving my entire life in Madison to die.

My friend convinced me to come home, to finish my degree, to give it another year, um, especially since we had just signed a lease on a 2 bedroom apartment, and I said I would, but I was moving to San Francisco as soon as I graduated.

And 15 years after I donated my car, my little two door Honda Accord, to the Goodwill on South Van Ness I got to drive my brand new Fiat Pop 500 home to my little studio by the sea.

Pretty fucking amazing.

And!

I found parking.

Hahahahahaha.

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All In The Family

May 31, 2015

I turned around, his small body pressed to me.

“Chip,” he said soft, with a slight lisp, he smiled, “chip,” he whispered again.

Oh squeeze my heart little cousin.

I hopped a tortilla chip off the platter to his waiting mouth.

He took a bite, then held out his hand for the chip and went back to his favorite uncle on the couch.

Who proceeded to feed him a bite of cake.

Family.

Grandma.

Auntie.

Uncle.

Three boy cousins and their wives (what are the wives of first cousins called?).

And then the grand babies.

Which would be my second cousins–three more boys.

Me.

Food.

Oh my goodness so much food.

Grandma homemade food.

I just about fell over.

Roast pork and chicken and potatoes and salad and the most amazing paella I have ever, ever, ever had.

I wasn’t able to eat the Hawaiian pineapple cake and some other things but getting to watch everyone eat and talk and cozy against each other, cousins and second cousins running in and out the patio screen door, was such a gift.

I got to hold a four-month old second cousin in my lap and look in his wide brown eyes and see the genetic markers of the family passing themselves merrily right along.

A part of.

Once again with my family.

My aunt hugged me as she headed out the door, “don’t be a stranger.”

I won’t.

I don’t know when I will come back down to Chula Vista, but I will again.

And I can see myself making the trip up to my Uncle’s in Nevada City for a holiday, perhaps Thanksgiving?

Make some more memories.

Have some more connections.

See more things.

My Uncle and my cousin, his youngest son and wife, took me out to Balboa Park today in San Diego this morning and we spent the morning into the early parts of the afternoon wandering around the grounds.

We went to the Historical Museum and saw the Dr. Seuss exhibit, which was truly amazing and also wonderful and silly and made me laugh out loud.

My second cousin, his dad, and my Uncle sat down a Dr. Seuss designed table and cut and colored Cat in the Hat paper hats, cut them out and then wore them around the exhibit.

I laughed so hard I thought I might pee my pants.

While they were working on hats I discovered a color in your own Dr. Seuss character postcard table and I sat down and colored up three of them right away, one for my mom, one for the boys I work with and one for my cousin and his family–they were such wonderful hosts, every one really–which I plan on sending as a thank you card.

I didn’t actually get myself any postcards from the museum.

I was having too much fun hanging out in the museum to color more.

I scooped up the three I colored on and galavanted about the rest of the Historical Museum, snapping photos wherever I could.

Then off to Rose Garden where I was happy to discover roses that actually smelled like roses, and a walk through the Japanese Tea Garden to quietly walk through the paths and marvel at the giant coi fish in the ponds.

Prior to the museum we also went through the Botanical Gardens, wandered through the Spreckels Organ pavilion and checked out the fountain in the front.

It was a lovely meander.

The sun burned through the fog and they day grew warm.

We headed to a late lunch, had sushi, ran a few errands for my grandma and then back to the house for dinner and all the folks.

Sitting here, the dishes washed, the lights being dimmed, my uncle having one last piece of cake, my gram getting ready for bed and I am filled with a kind of gratitude I find hard to express, but it is there, full, golden, sun soaked and happy.

Quiet.

Seeing photographs of my father as a boy.

My grandmother showing me his Boy Scout uniform from when they lived in Oakland, my eyes welled and my heart grew three sizes bigger.

Then she pulled out a package from my sister.

It was a strange, but so sweet, assortment of crochet items that she sent my grandma in 1986, she would have been eleven or twelve.

I gasped when I saw the postmark on the box, Windsor Wisconsin.

“I save it, I thought it was so sweet,” my grand mother said, “I don’t know what they are exactly, but you could see she was just learning and I had to keep it.”

I told her about my afghan, the one she had crocheted for me when I lived in the House in Windsor and had shared that I was in the coldest room in the house, the one directly beneath the attic and it was like living in Siberia, so she crocheted me a red and white and pink afghan.

I had lost it.

Not lost it as in lost it, but it had been destroyed in a flood in Madison.

It was in the same stack of boxes my ex had bought down in the basement when we lived on Mifflin Street the year it flooded our basement.

I also lost all my Christmas ornaments.

My ex had tossed everything out.

I was so hurt when I discovered that.

“I’ll make you another!” My grandmother told me, “just tell me what colors you want.”

My eyes welled.

It’s been a wonderful trip.

An amazing gift of reconnection and discovery.

Listening to the squabbles and talks and the hugs and the kisses and hearing all the stories between uncles and aunt and cousins and wives.

I had just a kiss of regret watching the easy give and take of love, I wished for a partner to share it all with, someone I could lean into and hug and kiss on too.

I know that will come.

Things like that happen when you are happy and secure and surrounded by family.

It just happens.

Like love.

Blooming.

An unending flowering of love.

Family.

My family.

Realizations

December 27, 2014

Then there was that time in the car on the way to the place when I had an epiphany.

It came without bidding.

Most epiphanies do.

And it had to do with my father and the lack thereof of said father most of my life.

It followed closely on the heels of a conversation I had with my favorite uncle, my father’s eldest brother, and I realized when I said goodbye to him and I love you, that I did have a father figure, it is my uncle.

It was such a simple little revelation.

And like all such revelations, obvious when I saw it, that it had been there all along.

He had insisted the first year I moved out to California that I come up to his place in Nevada City, actually out past Nevada City, up further in the hills, for Christmas.

I had not seen this side of the family in a long time and I was nervous.

I was also going to be seeing my grandmother whom I had not seen since I was a small girl, four, four and a half, and she did not know that I was coming, it was a surprise.

I remember that my cousins looked so much more like me than my mother’s side of the family and that my uncle, who, although I was shy around and as one of my girl cousins noted, I did the same thing they did–hide in my hair–I felt uncustomary closeness too.

I couldn’t remember much of my uncle from being a little girl and I am not sure how much he was around at the time I was living in California, but he stepped in then.

And he has stepped in now.

I called him to get an update on my father–my two uncles and my grandmother flew up yesterday on Christmas to be with my dad.

My uncle gave it to me straight and thank god for that.

He also said all the things that I would have wanted to hear from my father at any time during my life, I love you, I’ll stay in touch with you, I will call you soon, I will keep you in the loop.

When I got off the phone I felt flooded with gratitude.

I had a dad.

And though my uncle is not really my dad, he’s my uncle, he’s a father figure and it was to a father that I felt I was speaking.

My uncle has daughters and as such is probably not looking for another, but the connection there and elsewhere–this is my uncle who goes to Burning Man–is strong, familial, blood, and I felt connected to him and the situation became just that more bearable to handle.

I won’t have a lot of say in the medical side, although I could choose to if push came to shove.

I don’t need to have that say.

Although my uncle made it quite clear that I am considered the primary next of kin being the eldest daughter and child of my fathers.

I am in control of his estate.

What feeble estate that accounts for since my father has been in a homeless shelter in Anchorage for some time is beyond me, but yes, I do have control of those monies.

I have no need for it and I would dispose of that responsibility and cede it to any of my father’s side of the family that should want it.

However.

If I need to I will take on the responsibility.

I am an adult.

I don’t know that I will pursue a great deal of a relationship with my father, I don’t know how much of a relationship there is going to be as the amount of brain damage is still be assessed.

He will be there in the facility for at least another two months.

He still has brain swelling and the two skull pieces that were removed have to be replaced and often times my father has to be restrained to not mess with his head.

I feel you dad.

It itches.

I was never good with the itchy stuff either.

But let it heal, ok?

Maybe because I do want to have some sort of relationship, if only to tell you I love you once in a while.

Everybody wants to hear that.

I believe, anyway.

And until that time I can always tell my uncle and my grandmother, my sister, my mother, my aunts and cousins, I can tell them I love them.

Life is precious and the more I live it the more precious it becomes.

Tomorrow I am going to take a trip down the coast to Natural Bridges State Park with my guy and we are going to see the monarch migration.

I am super excited to witness it.

I suspect it is something I need to see.

I feel the pull for these adventures and these experiences more now than ever as I see the kind of life my father has chosen for himself and the life that I have chosen for myself.

I can hope for a kind intersection of love and perhaps at a crossroads again I can take my father’s hand and we can walk along the road for a little while.

Or not.

But I choose to walk this path and live honorable and lovingly and with great kindness and compassion for myself and my father.

He did the best he could.

I know that.

I don’t approve, necessarily of what that looked like when I was a child, but I accept it and I know, really know, he did the best he could.

Just like my mom did.

No one’s parents are perfect and no one’s child is perfect either.

Yet we are all perfect.

Human.

Lovable and worthy of love.

And I hope that you don’t fall in love with me.

Too late.

It’s irrevocable.

I love my father.

I love, but from a far.

I love, but I can see the mountains around him and the snow squeaking under the tires of trucks whistling in and out of the hospital parking lot, I can still feel his hand and the warmth of his cheek when I kissed him goodbye.

It was a kiss hello too.

And maybe there will be more of that.

In the meantime, I’ll stay connected to my uncle and be grateful, so unaccountably grateful for my family, close, far, blood calls to blood and I am connected to so many wonderful amazing people.

I am not alone.

I never was.

No matter what I told myself.

And neither is my father.

No matter what he told himself either.

Love never dies.

Never fades.

Love always is.

Sometimes People Die

December 14, 2014

I should rephrase that.

We all die.

Sometimes people die and then, well, they don’t.

I expected the worst when I got the phone call this week about my father, the surgery, the injury, the coma, the low quality of life he has had over the last few years (in and out of homeless shelters), rampant alcoholism.

Hell, the last few decades.

However, he’s tough.

Like me.

I get my toughness from him.

And my mouth and my hair and I hate to say it, my big old Hawaiian flat-footed feet, I mean, really, those are my feet.

And my nose.

And my hands.

And my hand in his.

It’s just a slightly smaller version.

Watching him struggle, watching the tubes tumbling out of every single limb on his body, was like watching a version of myself and what it could be like, well, if it weren’t like what it is, which is that–

I have recovered.

From a seemingly hopeless condition of mind and body.

My father has not.

Maybe.

Maybe he will.

Maybe he’s still digging that bottom of his.

Maybe he’ll die.

Maybe he won’t.

Well, he will, I will, you will, we all will, but maybe there might be some juice left, some special spark, some tremolo of love that sings out, come walk with me longer, look at the mountains, see the sunrise over the snow-covered trees and breathe the air–crisp, cold, bracing–let it fill your lungs and soul and heart.

Whenever it got to be too much I would walk the sky bridge between the ICU and the wing adjoining the Cancer Center.

It’s a skywalk with views of the mountains and it commands attention.

Nature.

God.

Great.

Out.

Doors.

What ever you want to call it; that which is a power greater than myself.

That tree, yes, that one, over there, its older than me, it was here before me and it will be here after me.

I am just a blink.

A particle of time and space and love.

But oh.

Such love.

How many times did I tell my father I loved him today?

A lot.

More than a few.

I told him, I told friends, I told my sister, and my mother, my grandmother, my uncle, my great-aunt in New York.

You know who I didn’t?

My boyfriend.

Not because I didn’t want to.

That’s another blog.

But out of fear.

And perhaps that lesson is the greatest one here.

Tell them all, tell them you love them, smother them with love, and tell yourself you love you.

“I have to go papa,” I said and squeezed his hand again.

It’s disconcerting, he’s so lively, so responsive, but it’s not cognitive response, it’s nerve response, it’s like watching a fish with electrodes moving it’s tail back and forth.  I don’t know how much is real, and I don’t want to give myself false hope or for that matter, anyone else.

He twitches and jerks and occasionally an eye opens and it rolls and I don’t see much there and I am afraid to not see it and afraid to see it all at the same time and then I think, he hears me, his head it turned, but then it turns back.

I squeeze his hand, my hand, that is my hand, there and stroke the pad of flesh with my thumb and rub it and touch it and warm the skin.

I lean in and find a place in between the maze of wires and find a spot I can kiss goodbye.

But not yet.

Not goodbye for good.

Just good-bye for a meal and a hot shower.

I stay as long as I can, then I go.

Twice today I went out, out into the world and then in and down into a church basement.

The great thing about where ever I go, there’s a church basement with a pot of coffee and some big styrofoam cups and some principles in red ink hanging from the wall and someone to offer me a suggestion.

“Pray and breathe,” she said to me.

Yes.

Pray and breathe.

It’s that simple.

And say I love you.

Again and again and again.

I love you for your brown eyes and your dark hair, and your big hands and strong legs, those legs, you gave me those, I recognize those knees and thighs–I use them every day on my bicycle or to walk or to kneel down and pray–for being so smart, “you got your intelligence from your dad” so my mom says (although I suspect I got my heart from my mom), and you gave me stories and you told me I was a writer.

“I always knew you’d grow up to be a writer,” my father said to me on the front porch of Patty’s house on Monroe Street in Madison.

We had just gotten a couple of cans of Barq’s (Famous Olde Tyme) root beer from the soda machine at the market–when it was still 35 cents a can and we’re drinking the cold pop on the steps smoking cigarettes and (watching Captain Kangaroo) watching the cars go by.

“You’re a story-teller, just like me,” he said and sipped on the pop and dragged off the cigarette.

The sun was warm, my feet were bare.

I was nineteen.

I was lost, pretty much a college drop out and my dad was basically couch surfing and dating the daughter (18 years old and therefore younger than me) of the woman who lived in the house whose porch we were sitting on (I ended up sleeping with her son, so I think we’re even on that score), living on food stamps and borrowed time.

But in that moment.

Exquisitely happy to be hanging with my pops on a porch, shooting the shit, telling stories, remembering when I was  little girl and he would ride me around on his motorcycle.

Not all my memories of my dad are so golden and shimmering and flecked with creamy root beer spiced carbonation.

I don’t know that I would cast the memories that I am creating here in this hospital as golden either.

But they are a gift.

It is a gift of immensity that I expect to be exploring with new and different eyes for some time to come.

And maybe my papa will come out of the coma while I am here.

And maybe he will not.

But I am here.

I showed up.

I grew up.

And in my heart, I’m still sitting on that porch listening to my father spin yarns and drink root beer in the dusk of a summer evening.

I love you Michael Martines.

I am your daughter.

You are my father.

And whatever happens.

Nothing will change that.

Love never dies.

Or grows older or fades.

It always stays.

So stay a little longer.

There are so many stories I haven’t told you yet.

 

 

 


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