Nov. 27th 2017 Mountain Time – Nov. 28th 2017 in Galle, Sri Lanka
Well, the date came around today. Its a foggy number for me as I was so far elsewhere in the “tomorrow” time zone and also took the brothers a couple of days to track me down to deliver the news so I actually had to look at your obituary to know exactly which date was the day.
The date shouldn’t matter and I maybe should be “unattached” according to the Buddhists or doing the whole “she’s in a better place” crap which frankly I don’t believe in – maybe there is an after-life but we have no proof and only folktales augmented by the spectre of “faith” to go on – so to me, whether there is or isn’t makes no difference (also, who’s to say this isn’t the “after-life”). Oh and to the faith of my relations, I don’t want a whole planet to “manage” if it means I must supervise wars and disease and disasters, anyhow I digress… to me, the only salient aspect of memory I feel and care to share is simply “I miss you”. That’s all. And, I want to, aim to, and am keeping your memory alive in a very tangible way.
You have no marker, your body is still at University of Utah Medical Center, used by a little squadron of medical students and there’s maybe an engraving of your name on some associated memorial wall in SLC somewhere – we ordered it, filled out the form but don’t have evidence of actual existence.
Of course, there’s your sons and friends and grandkids still roaming around but your stories will fade if someone doesn’t keep the tradition alive. With this in mind, I post photos of you and about you, on the Internet so folks can click a button of acknowledgement, drop a few words, etc. – but to me, this isn’t all of what’s needed. With your love of genealogy – or rather the research of the stories of ancestors as they are rather than just a list of data points to perform unrequested ceremonies upon – and your interest in findagrave and tending to headstones, I want to put a stone somewhere with your full name, birth place and date and same with death, just for the “Lauralees of the future” who have the same interest as you to dig into the stories of the past.
Anyhow, last May, on Memorial Day weekend, the UofU Medial School Body Donor Program held a ceremony at the cemetery in my fave Avenues neighbourhood in SLC. Anders, Bob and I attended and was really quite neat. Not too religious, there was acoustic guitar music, the fun guy Wayne who helped us through the initial process was there along with colleagues, and the tone was solemn who open and relaxed.
Other families who had a similar experience this past year were there and a medical student spoke about her experience working with her cadaver. She mentioned she was so nervous it took her weeks before she could really cut into and work with her assigned body (not yours BTW) and how she calls by name and explains gently what they will do each day. She told about holding the heart in her hands and the power of the work.
Anyhow, Bob rolled in that morning from some Navy training in his sharp white uniform and Anders and I drove up from LV. We went up together and told y/our story to the assembled. Bob of course got applause rocking his uniform on Mem day :). I made you a card with ink and postal stamps from all over the world from my latest ramble – all sorts of paper ephemera from all over my journeys – and left on the marker for ya. As an aside, I’ve circumnavigated the globe twice since you passed, cruised across 2 oceans, visited another 19 or so countries, bunch of new hats and addresses.
Your cousin Catherine Stoneman was there and was great to catch up with her. I recall her being so kind when I was a kid exploring Harper and Ena’s shop. I will send her your little collection of photos of the shop too BTW. Our high school friend Jen Johnson (one of the 3 Jens) lives close by and zipped over to lend a smile and hug.
The TV news was there and interviewed the 3 of us – don’t think the clip was used but no biggie, we nice to tell our story as it is. Bob coming in from Bangkok, me from India, Anders being on phone with you… all very “unique and interesting” which describes you so well. We were the last ones to leave and took the leftover cheese and fruit plates – ha. Drove down by the new SLC library where there’s a wall of inscriptions for the body donor program but you aren’t on that yet (bit confusing as there seems to be 2 programs and walls both doing the same thing… ).
Next day, we threw a memorial party for you and my pal Rod Ash (2 years older than me and died suddenly in his sleep) up at Dane’s house up Big Cottonwood Canyon. I had “organized” it from Nepal based on a crazy idea of a need to say a proper good-bye as the gathering at Uncle Bob’s while nice, didn’t give a chance to celebrate so much. Needed something more.
Marty came up with the name “Creepers and Chums” based on Rod’s love of Creeper shows and your of Chums glasses holders. There was great poster art (I made the info poster, Marty make the commemorative poster). We had music by Larry Harper who charmed everyone, Mikael Lewis played songs – some of which I joined him for to read poetry and sing along – and Jamielee (who lost her Mom a year before) performed as Twillo with her band. Plus, a buncha friends from around the world sent music by video to play between live acts including Trevor, plus my pals The Matinée, and bands/musicians from Turkey, Greece, Nepal and more. Quite fun community building – such like the party we did in the Logan backyard before i went to Japan one year.
Went pretty well and a great assortment of folks showed up and were issued hats from my international collection. Ron Lindley came up which was so great – he’s a most wonderful man and felt terrible about not seeing you on one of his drive through. His son, Morty about 11 (such a smart, well-spoken and polite), was there as well as his oldest daughter Barbara Jane with her kiddo – she was the little one when we’d do big camping / biking trips back in the day and now she’s a lovely grown mother. Anyhow, real intergenerational which I know you’d love.
Next, about India and my confusion about the date… you passed around 10:30PM mountain time on the 27th. I was in India at a place called Auroville – a sort of free-form community dedicated to motherly love founded by a French lady called Amma (mother) and an Indian yogi back in 1968 or so. I had finished my Ayurveda treatment (3 weeks basically in solitary) and was feeling alright despite my personal and professional life rumbling around me. I had no mobile or wi-fi coverage and only Anders vaguely knew where I was. I was walking to the post office (naturally) and then to this meditation dome – I’d visited the outside the day before and was there I think right when you passed if my lousy math lines up right. I took a photo and I am smiling as I had “made it” to the end of the world to a peaceful place.
Anyhow, I’d stopped for a coffee – served in a hot, handleless brass cup – was doing another entry for this on-going photo essay where I snap beverages from the top so they are just circles, and was doing that when my phone connected showing so many missed calls messages and emails blah blah blah. I obviously knew something terrible had gone wrong but never would’ve guessed what. Finally I saw an email and was shocked, called A. but crappy connection – all I could say is “Chennai airport, 4 hours, open the envelope” meaning the emergency dossier with passwords to my credit cards and passports etc.
Long story but between him, my pal L. in Burnaby and Bob, they arranged a flight while I rushed back to my cabin, threw my stuff together, quick shower (nothing worse than being the stinky guy on a plane), someone gave me some homeopathic “rescue” remedy, into a taxi for the wildest ride ever, swerving between cow and busses to the airport. Was a huge hassle to pay because India had withdrawn all 500 and 1000 rupee notes so had to hand over a mix of strange currencies and hope he’d be a sport. Then I couldn’t get past the young man with automatic weapon into the airport because I didn’t have a boarding pass and couldn’t get internet cause required a text to an Indian phone number…. Trying so hard to remain clam and breathe and not lose temper. I just wanted to scream!!! Finally jedi’ed my way in with an outdated boarding pass and a serious look, no help or sympathy or service from desk, found a bar to wait for flight and a young man understood the reason for my wide-eyed panic and “stood guard” to keep the herds of foreign businessmen away from me.
Finally boarded and undertook the worst 36 hours or travel ever (and you know I’ve had some doozies). Chennai to Mumbai (still called Bombay for airport purposes) alone in a cavernous international terminal late night and frozen cold with A/C, nothing to eat or drink, all closed and I pulled a little blanker sarong thing and trie to stretch before flight on Jetairways to Amsterdam – just terrible with so much pain in my body and mind. Get wheelchair service in Amsterdam to which through another Rond of security – at this point I could barely make noise let alone words – and onto a Delta flight where I practically begged for water and an upgrade and instead was given a gross meal which I spent the rest of the flight throwing up. Finally SLC and I had only threads of clothes from India and into the frozen cold trying to find Anders. A mess. I would’ve done it 100 times if it meant I was there to see you one more time but that’s useless thinking. Point is, you would’ve laughed so hard at the story. I’ve been in so many weird travel scrapes before but this one just sucked. Friend L helped me try to get refunds from the cancelled trains and planes I missed out on from the change in plans which was just more paperwork and hassle for very little benefit. Money is just made up shiny paper but you always taught us to do the most with what we have and I had hoped for more kindness, or daresay empathy, from various insurance companies and whathaveyou.
This past year, I’ve spent a lot of time at Anders’ house going through boxes, making big envelopes of stuff to send to your sons, and brothers, and kept select items from all your projects – from church bulletins to community college club endeavours – couldn’t keep it all as “who’s got space?” Funny to think of all the hauling around we did with that stuff (so many houses and moves!) and then had to be “sortganized” in short order in Logan and then, on 3 subsequent trips to LV. Not ideal but its what the situation required.
Still though, always want one more to make sure I am doing your “stuff” justice – though I know it’s “just stuff” but its your creations so I don’t dismiss easily. Like I said, no matter how diligently I do all the sorting and organizing, I feel like I am missing something and I often say aloud “I’m doing my best Mom but I gotta pitch this stuff” – photos from Russia on the Volga trip which don’t include you, papers, programs and cassette tapes from a trip with DECA club to Florida, church bulletin clip art binders… Anders and I got 95% of all the bills and accounts closed down and still have a Canadian bank about and Social Insurance conundrum to polish off. They require so much notarized copies and paperwork that its a drag. We’ve mailed off so many envelopes and hope its about done as its a huge stresser and reminder for Anders I think. But “doing our best and can’t do any more” we say and laugh at al the verbal Mom-isms we inherited (“the fact in all remains…”)
Plus, you left a wonderful legacy of photos, journals, scrapbooks and other artifacts of memory and action in my semi-capable administration. Much of these are stashed in a basement in Logan in the 6 piece breakfront cabinet I (somewhat foolishly as I don’t have a home nor prospects of one) chose with my Will “draft pick.” I could use a “do-over” on that day or week – not exactly sure what I’d do differently but a lot of chaos resulted in some stuff slipping through cracks and missing out on proper inventorying and archiving.
The Agatha Christie books were all sorted by collection and editions and so on in the garage and cousin M. has moved into your old place so honestly, don’t know where they ended up. Hope safe. I know you specified in your Will to sell to pay expenses, and it sorta seems to fall on me to do so, but I don’t live anywhere and would gladly go the rest of my life without ever returning to Logan, so not sure how to resolve. I made contact with some of your fellow AC fans and clubs but I ran out of cycles to do the heavy-lifting. Some of me wants to donate to an “Old Folks Home” or similar in your name but nothing I can do about it now as I am Sri Lanka for the foreseeable future.
Yup, gave up trying to make life work in the US or Canada and threw chips to the wind and ended up here. Long story of course but I needed somewhere cheap, weird and warm. And I needed distance.
I stayed in an Ayurvedic clinic for a few weeks of treatment and the place was lovely and all that but I didn’t come out feeling replenished and revitalized like previous similar treatment cycles – felt like just biding time though I was cleaned out inside and out with oils and herbs and tablets which make your body do into certain metabolic routines. I meditated a lot, yoga daily, all veg food and herbal capsules and what not but I still struggle to sleep and my body remains in constant pain.
Ironically, before i split but after i booked tickets, I was finally “accepted” into the Chronic and Complex Disease Program at BC Women and Children’s Hospital and went for the my intake but couldn’t stand the thought of living in some low-end basement apartment in some crap suburb and riding buses in the rain to go to wait for another Drs opinion about how and what I should do. Done with it. So I ran. I asked my therapist why I always “run away” and she suggested I “am running towards something” – sure, not sure what but maybe I’ll recognize it when I see it. The fire went out for a while but I am sparking again at least.
So here I am in humid monsoon season Galle, Sri Lanka in a rambling house which needs a good cleaning, looking out over rice paddies and jungle and stray dogs. I’m moving forward – from all sorts of other changes in life which I won’t share now – but my heart and soul is exhausted from this year. I need need need some easier times ahead, I doubt myself and my ambitions constantly and wonder what my “purpose” is and why and how life brought me to how I am now. Useless thinking so I work with a monk/psycho-therapist about this but really don’t go for the dismissiveness of “letting go” not now, not yet anyhow. Im holding you close of the time being at least. Im singing your songs, I’m saying your name, I’m writing you poems and letters, I’m treasuring the incredible archive of photos from the slides you assembled (constantly finding new gems), I’m backing up your websites and blogs, I’m telling your stories, I’m answering and acknowledging the comments people leave, I’m sharing photos and memories (like you in your full Akela regalia on Let’s Make a Deal game show)… But mostly, I wish I was telling you all of this to your dear face. If this is unhealthy, considered me gladly poisoned.
Love you forever, still your Davey.