74th Birthday Letter to Mom

Well Mom, it’s your birthday.

Of course, you’re on my mind today, but also every other day. Of course I miss many things about you but mostly just the ability to call and catch you up on my life and have you cheer me along on my challenges and adventures. Your sing- songy voice going “oh son, that sounds fantastic, such fun!” So here’s your update…

Still, I’m trucking away at challenges and having adventures. I get Blue sometimes/often for sure… Missing the “old me” – even though I know its useless thinking and there’s many things about that part of my life that were not sustainable and decisions I could’ve made that would’ve been slightly more sensible – but I miss having energy to get up and  face each day with optimism and enthusiasm. Instead I wake up confused, exhausted, anxious and in pain. However, whenever this happens, I remind myself that I’m off all medications, I’m still out here in the world, making friends and trying to make the lives of strangers a tiny bit better. Just like you taught me.

Creating a ton of “stuff”… Much of the stuff I’m making is just going through the hard drives and back catalogs and finally finishing up all those things I thought I would finish when I had some time. I guess I have time now :-) – nothing like seeing one’s own mortality so up close to put some immediacy into one’s work! 

Admittedly, i’m no longer real confident about the future: my ability to work, or an expectation of having a “long productive life”… I’m not pessimistic about any of these things, just not counting on them which sort of leads to living in the moment, staying present and finding joy in hitting “publish” button rather than waiting for second opinions or unattainable perfection. Lots of poems, podcast, paintings, postcards and other artifacts. I love digging into the photo archive you created to find just the right picture to go along with project sometimes or just to share a flashback from my Tenenbaum-like childhood.

Anyhow, despite my misgivings, I have content scheduled at through June as it is and enough to publish daily posts through the end of the year… At least. You would “like” the heck outta all of it. Of course, I’m not making/publishing for clicks and likes and the sugar-rush of attention (which frankly I can’t handle much of right now because requires responses and acknowledgment and all of that), rather I making things for the future. I hope youthful renegades can find my work –whether it be tomorrow or 100 years from now – and find a kindred spirit of someone who creates because that’s what’s inside of themselves: scribbling words and paint, and scissors and glue just because.In other words, be an erstwhile hero to an anonymous, gratefully-inspired audience.

I’m was talking with some women the other day who love arts and crafts and put on shows to help others share / sell their creations and so much enjoyed telling them about the “bright idea company”… Trying to explain your process of buying candles, ironing on napkin patterns, adding mod podge, and rolling in glitter and loading up the station wagon to craft fairs, county fairs, gymnasiums, dusty halls and so on. So funny to think about the thousands of those we made and sold.

And to think that I’ve never really stopped! Still when I start a project, it’s never just one sheet of paper or one canvas or one thing going at once, instead everything becomes an assembly line spread out on the biggest table I can find. I take over desks in hotel lobbies, information tables not assigned to me, afternoons in coffee shops and bars with all my supplies everywhere. I disappear into it and enjoy that so much. I’ll admit, much of this is just a distraction to ignore the pain in my body, plus the plenty of anguish in my heart. I do get lonely sometimes, though I know there’s friends out there who support me, but just having someone to look over my shoulder and take some manner of delight in what I’m creating and seeing how my brain works… out for my arms, through my clumsy fingers, and then out into the world.

Thought about the candle biz during this last christmas too because that was the impetus for you to start – to have extra money to lay it on for holidays. I was in a bit of a “crashmode” slump and alone trying to avoid thinking about all of it. You know when the fibro is bad, i am basically in bed to bath (and beyond – ha) and i laughed thinking about you saying i didn’t like christmas because of the time you bought me a suit for my “big present”. I did hate that suit, not because i don’t love a good suit – heck i have several custom tailored numbers, it was just that grey pinstripes was ugly and had no flair!

I didn’t like being that churchy kid anymore and you realized this right away when you saw my face opening the gift, and made up for it the next year with a huge stack of punk rock records (which i should tell you i knew was coming when you had asked me for a list in – what you thought was – a subtle way). Now halloween, that’s a different story. That and Remembrance day are the two festive daysi always am into, of course this came from you too… the costumes you’d make for the former and the cub activities for the latter. 

I’m also keeping up your tradition with frequent pilgrimages to Post Offices. Of course I think of you when I take a stack of letters to mail – think of you taking care packages to mail to my brothers on missions, or eBay books wrapped up in paper with cards to send to strangers who were the lucky bidder on your collections.

As for practical stuff, I’ve backed up your wordpress blog – shedding several tears doing so as I looked at the post you made for me and my brothers on our birthdays (as well as your grandkids) with your sweet words, ridiculous fonts, goofy clipart, and seeing your love shine through all of it. I also added a few posts with photos from the body donor memorial event, the video we made after you passed, and a few other artifacts to put a “cover” on your book for anyone who comes by. I hope this blog can live on for decades.

I’ve also backed up your photos, genealogy records, and everything else I can think of… sometimes I realize something I’ve forgotten and get to work on it (thank goodness for your well organized password spreadsheet!). I’ve added auto-responders to your email addresses, and posts to your Facebook (which I’ve resisted put into legacy mode so we can still add things from time to time to keep your memory alive) to inform stragglers of your “change in status”.

Pretty much done with shutting down all the credit cards, utilities, dealing with pensions and insurance and all that kind of crap – so much that I could write a nice booklet about how to wind someone’s estate down respectfully in the digital age. I’ll save that project for another time when it’s not so painful. There’s still a few little odds and ends that need done but I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself or brother A but know that you would want us to be fastidious with everything.

There is a conundrum with the boxes of your photos, journals, family history artifacts and the like which are stored in a cousin’s basement but, apparently we have a deadline to move it. I try to understand their motivations and point of view and not get frustrated but also, logistically, I have no home, I am nowhere near Logan, Utah, and it’s been barely a year and a half and it seems like they could be a little bit more lenient. I don’t mean to dismiss their needs and motivations but it’s frustrating in the context of their espoused beliefs of “family first” and all of that when this is the last critical links to your life. It’s not like we’re storing TVs and sewing machines, only the most precious bits. It will get sorted out (I hope/assume) as I am very cognizant it’s in my purview based on your wishes in your will, but I simply don’t have the means or energy to physically take care of it myself.

I mention my heart is weary from the last few years, I don’t need to explain to you all the losses I’ve faced and I’m trying to put heartbreak of unrequested change behind me, but when I inventory it in my head or in my notebooks, it’s stunning to see. As usual though, I will deal with it through making art. Ergo: I am in process of applying for a writing grant put on by a university in the UK somewhere (Norwich I think?) seeking writers to come in residence for six months to creatively write about Asia. This seems custom-made for me but I’m bumping up against a deadline and even the logistics of printing something and getting in the mail to deliver on time is a bit of a challenge. It’s the kind of project you would love helping me with and we would sit in your office, stacking the paper in triplicate on one of your big work tables made from an old door, covered with shelf or wallpaper.

I sometimes think back to the last (of our hundreds) of projects we worked on (my disability paperwork) and remember how well we work together and how comfortable I felt in your little workspace room, me hunched over double-checking endless lists, you clackety-clacking on your computer and your phone ringing/buzzing constantly. I’m so glad I remember you in this way with your brain firing full-on, your eyes bright, your voice un-cracked and it was me that seem to be the “old man”.

I also think that if I hadn’t come down with this stupid collection of medical syndromes, I would not have had those four/five long visits with you in a short two-year span. You know I didn’t love coming to Logan, but when I was feeling so weary and confused and lost and all of it, it was just you that I wanted to be near… even though one of those visits you were in for that stupid back surgery. I remind myself to be grateful for this as if I hadn’t seen you for a stretch (which is hardly unusual considering my rambling lifestyle) I would be even more devastated – instead, not only did I see you, but I documented our time through my scrapbooks and a collection of snapshots which I keep on my phone and look at your face so often.

Mom, I love you so much and I miss you so much and it’s so hard to write this because I know you will never answer. I talk to you out loud all the time, Especially when I’m having a tough time and I say “Mom, I’m doing my best” and imaging you replying “it’s all you can do son”.

I’m broken in so many ways but I’m still here and I’m still your son and I’m not afraid to cry and remind myself how lucky I was to be raised by you.

With so much love forever, your Davey

PS Almost forgot to tell you, i saw Doug and Dan in Ontario this past summer. They were kinda “late to the party” when you passed, but made up for it with a great visit. Spent a night at Dan’s fantastic lake cabin, took his speedboat to breakfast and they shared so many memories of you. Was really glad to hear this as i know how much you loved those guys. Dan talked about you going to bat for him to get his first real estate job (he’s now real estate king of Toronto) and Doug talked about you flying Ossy up from Ventura for his birthday. Lots more too. Dan is as feisty and energetic as ever and Doug was really engaged in my stories about rambles and declared me “the most interesting dude” (or something). I met all of their kids – Doug has 4, 2 twins and an older son and daughter, all four couldn’t be more different from one another! and his wife who was great. Dan’s daughters are in a million activities and gorgeous little angels. We swam in his pool at I marvelled at his collection of cars. More to say of course but i gotta hit “publish” at some point…

PPS Two pieces of Guildford Mews-related news: 1) Baloo passed way. Was in touch with Gordie and Sherry through his end run. Sent him letters and a little tribute essay for his memorial (posted on this channel); and 2), met up with childhood best pal Chris in a remote island locale. Met his kiddos and reminisced about tree forts and trick or treating and Harold Bishop Elementary.

PPPS Pardon typos etc, i don’t have your speedy fingers or careful eyes.