Tag Archives: death

Diary: Closing Circles with Stones ~ Grandmother to the Ohaka

Buddhist monk (handsome!) and me, Father-in-law Takushi, Mother-in-law Junkyo and wife Ryoko with baby Ichiro at Grandfather Ichiro’s ohaka / grave, now with Grandmother Tomiko

Aug 19th was 49 days after Ryoko’s Grandmother Tomiko passed away at 94 years old, 6 days after baby Ichiro was born, and the night he was registered on the generational family register (koseki tohon) at city office with the same name (but different kanji characters) as her husband – Ichiro.

As such, in the Buddhist tradition, her ashes were put into the ohaka (crypt) with dashing Grandfather Ichiro who died at 49 years old, many decades ago.

Note: Throughout the pregnancy, we often visited grandpa Ichiro‘s ohaka (grave) as going to a cemetery it was easy to reduce risk while having a pleasant walk and while there, clean his grave, light incense and have a conversation.

Buddhist monk offering prayers/chants at family alcove/altar before taking ashes to ohaka

In early July were four days of various funeral ritual/ceremonies at the house (adjusted for current health protocols) before she was cremated, and since then, her ashes sat at the family altar with daily incense, prayers and so on. 

this smouldering incense was part of the ceremony at the house, pinch, put to forehead couple of times…

So as it goes, the remarkably handsome monk offered more incense and chants and led family in scripted prayers and incantations. Baby Ichiro rolled with it all.

the cemetery man opens up the ohaka crypt for first time tis century… (Father and Monk look on)

Following, we took her ashes to the cemetery where a kindly tall specialist removed the capstone of the freshly cleaned ohaka allowing us to briefly see grandpa‘s urn, before adding the new jar & gently sealing back up.

 

the sealing sealing removed by hand…

Then we burned more incense, gave regards to other graves and left a lovely lunch to take her into the next journey.

special lunch to take Grandmother Tomiko onto the next part of journey

Note: of course there’s more to share of the story (eventually, perhaps), and if you’re curious, see the wedding picture of grandpa Ichiro and grandma Tomiko, plus notes from Ichiro’s first month and an Ichiro card with her casket and his basket.

wonderful mother in law at the cemetery, what a huge couple of months she’s had!

The circle is complete, the family continues, I’m very proud to be part of this clan. We’ve had seven weeks of birth, death, (re)birthdays, and so much transition in real time. i’m privileged to be a participant.

So very gratefully,
daveo/UW

for a brief moment only, we could see Grandfather Ichiro and Grandmother Tomiko reunited in their urns, then was sealed back up… what a treasured experience!

Media: Jerry Garcia’s Legacy / PDN, Guam, Aug. 18, 1995

Summary: Woke up to the news, quit my job, went to a candlelight vigil, passed one around, talked to some geeks from Pacific Daily News newspaper, learned about the Internet, signed up for class the next day, started making websites about hemp in Japan, got a new job, quit, went to Palau and Yap, went to Olympia, met some Internet hippies… somehow its today.

Where were you?

Media: Jerry Garcia death / PDN, Guam, Aug. 18 1995, part 1
Media: Jerry Garcia death / PDN, Guam, Aug. 18 1995, part 2
Media: Jerry Garcia death / PDN, Guam, Aug. 18 1995, part 3 (detail)

See also: “The Internet Age Began on August 9, 1995” / via Litkicks (with comment)

Ichiro: card #13 “generations” #Tomiko / 5.7

Ichiro: card #13 “generations” #Tomiko / 5.7

Ichiro Olson, card # 13
“Generations” / 5.7

The past few days we’ve witnessed a powerful transition of life as Ichiro’s great-grandmother Tomiko Fujita left this realm at 94 years old.

She is the widow of grandfather Ichiro who died over 4 decades ago at 49 years old. She passed a few hours after we formally registered the new lil Ichiro’s name at the City Office.

Her body went through the traditional Buddhist rituals in the house with monks, attendants, preparers and so on coming and going over 4 days with relics, artifacts, momentos, flowers, altars and so on / conducting prayers & chants plus bells, incense… all in the same tatami room where Ryoko & Ichi had rested hours before.

There’s more to say about this whole experience and the incredible dignity and respect and intention with which she was treated – but for now, I will say: as in the Buddhist consideration, her spirit lingers here for 40 some odd days after the body diminishes and feeling the life force transmitting between generations was undeniable.

PS watching my dear in-laws’ graceful tenacity during the scant days between dropping their daughter at clinic to give birth to baby coming home & settling in, then FiL’s mother passing & ceremonies… was a revelation of love.

See also: Ichiro and Tomiko’s wedding photo

Dad, 6 years gone / brief notes

Changing topics from Nagasaki to Olympics to… Dad. Well he’s gone 6 years today.

On my mind so much as now i am bound to be a Dad in June.

His last weeks are hard to reflect upon. Not just the heart hurting but all the toll it took just living through the process on someone dying. The physical and emotional strain was well… a lot. Cancer, ugh. Have we not raised enough money, enough research, enough science yet? Learned on Christmas Day, was gone before Valentine’s Day.

Here’s a snap of us January 26, 2014. He looks rough but so positive and strong during the stretch run – He was fun and kind. So much respect. Thanks to all of you who supported us with kind words during that time. (Also, a thumbs-down to those who decided his funeral was a good time to give me grief, you are lame).

Peace to you and your kin. Good health for all. Boo cancer, yeah fun times.

++
My brother James adds:

My brother Dave Olson expresses so many sentiments on the anniversary of my dad’s passing (6 years+1 day) so well that I figured that I would just share what he said and add a thought …

A THOUGHT: As his ever-wise fourth son, it was easy to find “flaws” in my dad, as it was to pick out things he was really great at as a dad and good human. As a dad now, not repeating some of those flaws is actually pretty easy but replicating the great stuff is actually really hard.

I am a way grouchier presence in the house than he was (ask my poor kids!); his optimism pertaining to people and things was most often beyond commendable (he saw good and potential way more clearly than I can); he didn’t always need people to rush, rush, rush (“Hurry up!” seems to be my favourite refrain); and the list goes on.

I take solace in knowing that he evolved into many of those qualities and ways of being and I have some time. 

Preserving the Wildflower – Postcard #69 via video

What becomes of the seemingly ephemeral creations we leave behind? Especially in the analog-days?

Consider these in the context of missing cassette tapes made by a now departed poet/activist/scholar Foster and guitar-ing Mikael, who recorded spontaneous youthful riffs in parent’s basement in Utah. In this postcard, Mikael Lewis sings “Wildflower (for Foster)” written by Dave in a clinic in Nepal, then adds some more verses, spiels and a poem called “Occasionally Free” – with lightning, rainstorm and crickets chiming along.

Note: Also available in audio-only via all normal podcast channels and elsewhere in this library.

Simon, Stolen, Shame – Postcard #84

A heart-wrenching poem about an abducted boy called Simon – who lived nearby, was my age and sorta looked like me – in Surrey, BC 1982 – by the “Beast of BC” Clifford Robert Olson (NO relation). Recorded and contributed to Dark Poutine Canadian True Crime podcast – shared here for posterity etc.

RIP Simon and the others.

Be wary for: Simon, Stolen, Shame – Postcard #84
(10MB, 5:27, mp3, stereo)

Continue reading Simon, Stolen, Shame – Postcard #84

Signs in the Wild – Death Society Meeting and Dancing Unit

Often, I find signs interesting, amusing or occasionally useful or just aesthetically curious or intriguing. Here are some, i have others. These are from Sri Lanka.

Rest Me Naught

Rest me Naught

The partisans attacked
Shortly after sun dawned
Trapped behind the lines
Two days after the treaty signed

Under grey sky I consider
Am I the last one to perish?
Perhaps the final number
In a redundant skirmish

Papers signed inky in a rail car
I’ll never chance to see
Peace comes for some
But no solace arrives for me

The religious get their rites
Murderers given last meals
I’m ordered a shovel
And to get down on my knees

Night-flashes of lost loves
Forever gone forlorn
First flash of eye glance
Waking early on a first mourn

Distant desperate acts
Seeking a fleeting peace
Unadvised by the muddy
The needy and the weak

Boots and coats removed
To strip last identity
The cold doesn’t sting
As much as anonymity

Trenches are flooded
Mortar shells rest unused
Canteen still has drops
Munitions stockpiled to abuse

Grandmother will never know
When my corpus lays
Flowers will grow eventually
While a Legion prays

I am unknown to no-one
Forgotten by unborn kin
What counts as victory?
Who credits this a win?

No photo in a locket
Soggy letters long left to rot
Telegrams remain unanswered
No lover to forget me not

(All my years for naught)

Witnessed my Own Autopsy

Autopsy etc. table, wood (Kerala)
Autopsy etc. table, wood (Kerala)

On a concave hardwood slab
(carved in the 16th century
by the Portuguese or possibly Dutch)
I witnessed my own autopsy

Chipped out my draft obituary
on a petroglyph red canyon walls
– surely covered up soon enough
by flooding rivers and reservoirs

Guilt, grief, cold and sorrow
ride in the seats beside me
loss settles in, ticket punched
ready for the full night ride
in which sunrise lasts forever
evidence of absence of time

Roll past all the caskets
rotting for eternity – 
there is “really nothing inside“ 
but exhume just to see

Vasco’s bones are dug up
and carried to his home
I’ll leave yours in the ground
and sit beside alone
with flowers and coffee
both black and soft

Then softly read you endless poems
by Whitman, Baudelaire and Keats
turn leaves like the Chinese fishing nets
seen on Kochi beach

Hospital Letters and Flames – Postcard #77

In hospital with sedated Grandpa, Dave reads complete “Letters from Russia” epistolary literature project with frequent interruptions from visitors, nurses and medical apparatus. The letters address issues of class, revolutions, monarchy, war, trade, and love in the context of Napoleon’s foray into Russia in 1812 through letters from a cobbler to his fiancé in Paris. Then finishes with Walt Whitman heading on the open road (which ole Gramps was so fond of doing himself).

Featured music: Mark Olson (music, guitar, vocals) and Dave Olson (lyrics, drums) “Little Flame” – recorded to 4 track cassette, circa 1996. 

Breathe easy for: Hospital Letters and Flames – Postcard #76
(82MB, 1:00:05, 192k .mp3, stereo)

Continue reading Hospital Letters and Flames – Postcard #77

Not Being There (for Rod) / notes

Not Being There (for Rod)

 

(page 3?

Not being there

Instead a mediocre duo

Plays “Forever Young” 

And “Fast Car”)

Third time this

Death whilst elsewhere

Occurred in the past 5 years

Austin, Auroville, Athens

 

Where are you now? 

“Fast enough to fly away”

Year is 1988 

We are invincible

Marauding Utah Valley

Making best of seemingly 

Inconsequential locale

 

I order a Dead Guy ale 

At sea

Such an act 

anathema to sensitivity 

 

Me and a disposable fountain pen

Alone

Scribbling as fast as you drive

In an inconsequential notepad

The glue snaps with each page turned

Crackle like broken bones

 

Your photo on my phone 

Plaid shirt, goatee 

(before *everyone* sported same)

Holding a child

Is the child the artist of the lad 

Who wandered to Diamond? 

 

How do they hold up? 

I asked Mikhael at 3AM

As though i expected 

A reasonable answer

 

Next song is about 

“Getting here anyway you can” 

Airplane, sailboat, across deserts

Everysong is for you

Do they know?

 

“Holding Mountains…”

Just get here how you can

Fck, I am not there. 

Not even close

Instead chasing pariahs 

Around Arabia

 

The beer comes from Oregon

The cruise ship guitar is anonymous

Could be Mike and Denise instead

 

A mosaic of flowers on the wall

Covering your box

I imagine your hair

“Across the desert by caravan”

This destroys me

I wasn’t there

 

Next they sing 

“Oceans apart”

Describing to you

Where i am 

“Wherever you go”

 

Sappy as a Quebec maple tree

But still i stifle

I don’t want to be asked

But can’t be alone

In my room

Feeling all of THIS

This lost potential

Memories yet to make

 

Marty wept

Mikhael quavered

Spreading the hardest news

 

“How will we survive” 

The answer is “we won’t” 

Life ends for all of us

No SHIT, i sip again

To tentative to clapping

 

You are so loved

Hundreds appeared

Lined in the rain

Legendary

X will dedicate songs for you

Children will learn of you

Your parents said good-bye to you

The worst occurrence conceivable

To we delicate beings

 

The others gone before you

From erstwhile tribe

Many tempted fate

Litany of poor decisions 

Dalliances and addictions

While you were simply 

Pure electricity

 

Now they sing

“You’re broken”

Yesterday i would hardly notice

Stroll by en route to a chat 

With an Indonesian waiter

Or Romanian photographer

 

Tonight the words burn incandescent

Others notice the lady is vaguely pretty

The guitarist rocks to seem engaged

And i drink and scribble to you

The people wonder about

The temperate “back home” 

A concept i lost along the way

I know the air is chilly is all

 

“Get your affairs in order”

Is sound advice

For a complex chronic wanderer

Prone to mishaps

To me likely

But, i am convinced

No one ever expected

This incident to be you

Whisked to canyon hot pots 

Just weeks before

 

Then “our last song is by our favorite band, the Eagles” 

My cue to leave

Hate the fcking Eagles

I pull Greek fisherman hat

(Which made me giggle hours ago)

Down more tightly

Step out onto deck

Into the wind 

Observe twinkling lights

From islands which 

I’ll never know the names

Tactility of Loss

Tactility of loss
A Pantheon of pals
Ash goes to ground
Ride on endless highways
From Timpanogos
To Olympus

Underway in the Aegean
Thoughts of Odysseus
And his compatriots
Most fond and trusted

Feeling so so alone
Along on a ship of celebrant retirees
And a smattering of newlyweds
Their future i’ll never know

A teleporter does me no good
Body buried and tears all shed
While In Aqaba pretending
To be Lawrence or Wilfred

I sit with futile cigars
And a bitter drink
And wonder
Why not me?
I can count six distinct times
In a four year stretch
Where i’ve fallen with no idea
Where i’d ever be buried
Buried and rotted without a sound

Oh Rod Howard, how grateful!
I was a man without a tribe
When i found you at the center
Of everything curious
Making bonfire look like a
Mere lighter flame

Everybody’s favorite
Never an unkind word
From or about you
Making magic
Never on time
But always worth the wait

Odysseus sailed here
According to Homer
Whose existence is debated
Escaping villains in caves
Out to scheme his way to
Kindly strangers
With flagons, actual skins,
Of undiluted wine

Your children, your joy
You had no need to run away like me
All your quests took you home
To parents who understood
Your heart, head and desire
To live
Full on

The chatter around me deafening
Who do i commiserate with when
No one knows your lofty heights
Your speed, your softness
You heard me hurt and came without hesitation
Late, but just on time

Rocky coastlines await me
In the coming hours
No helipad exit could
Provide ointment

I will arrive to sit
Perhaps a picnic
At your stone
Perhaps i’ll learn the origins
Of your middle name
Maybe you’ll join me
We’ll play X cassettes on a box covered in stickers
Tom Waits warbles and we’ll make a Jim Jarmusch film
To chronicle your days
From Sunset rock in Los Angeles
To sunset trips in desert canyons
Which still echo with your laugh

I wear a Greek fisherman’s cap
And blue woven shirt
Made as coarse as burlap
For shepherds and taxi drivers

Tear it off and scream
Why you? Why now? Why this?
But no answer impending
And frankly i’d be booted from the cafe

Not a hedonist glutton madman you
Taking corners fast because
You knew the limits of your tyres
Fine tuned for performance and attributes
No one else can define
Except those of us you wrested and cajoled
Invited next to you

These rocky headlands
Come into view
As the ship horn bellows a lament
Now as low as my sinking Mediterranean heart
The blue sea unworthy of my unholy
Reflections of me a mortal
Always running towards something you found
Right at home

I snap a photo of a saddest angler
Who never held a Rod
As sleek and strong as you
Held together glue, sounds
Cracking against the bluest sunset

##

Rod Ash 1969-2017
Big brother to us all