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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Friday, December 15, 2006

RIP William Monroe Wright 1926-2006

I've been extremely fortunate. In 31 years, I've only had to attend two funerals. I've known all my grandparents and even two great grandparents, all my aunts and uncles and haven't lost any friends or immediate family. It's something I've been thinking about a lot recently since I got the call last Tuesday that my grandfather had an aneurysm burst and probably wasn't coming home.

It all seemed so sudden. We'd literally seen him two days prior, looking more alive than I'd seen him in years. It was his 80th birthday party, which he got to celebrate with friends and family. If you'd told me then, I wouldn't get to speak to him again, I'd scarcely have believed it.

In fact, the day he went was his 80th birthday proper. He'd spent the day Christmas shopping with my grandma and they were on the way out the door to dinner when he fell in the hallway, and that was that. His body hung on for another week, but we'd really lost him that day.

There'd been a couple of medical scares in years prior. He'd been given six months to live at least a couple times, but he was determined to live better and stayed with us for longer than we'd expected him to. He got to see my two cousins and came so close to seeing my wedding and possible great grandkids.

I'd always felt a special bond with my grandfather, though we'd had few really long involved conversations. He was the archetypal strong and silent type, the kind of person who could tell you a lot with out saying a word. Yet, as I got older, I could see so much of myself in him. My mother always told me so and I really think it's true.

I see him in my sense of humor, in the way I tend to gently tease the ones I love. I can see him in the way I tend to observe more than participate, all the while happy to be there. And, of course, I'll always see him when I sign my full name. His name is my middle name.

These past couple of weeks have been really sad for me, but I think I'm done being sad for a while. This Christmas is going to be hard, as we'll all be thinking of him, knowing how much he loved having everyone around for the holidays. My grandmother, who I always knew was an amazing woman, has been really strong during all this, but I know it's going to be especially rough for her.

For me, I think the moment I lost my sadness was at the wake when I saw a line of people out the door for nearly four solid hours waiting to pay their respects. To know that my grandfather meant that much to so many people makes me feel good. I hope I should be so lucky to positively impact as many people in my life.

And I should also hope to be so luck as to go quickly, feeling no pain and having seen all the people I love one last time.

Rest in peace, Grandpa Bill. You will always be missed.

Working out Grief through Cratedigging

My grandfather passed away earlier this week. While I'll probably try to collect some thoughts later on about that, the day of the wake I took my mind off things for a while by doing some cratedigging. Here's what I came up with:

Interesting jazz(ish) stash here. From the back: Willis Jackson "Bar Wars" (a record long my "my list"), Paul Horn/Lalo Schifrin "Jazz Suite on the Mass Texts" (which I bought even though I have mp3s someone rapidshared), Bobbi Humphrey "Flute-In" (another from "the list" and another with Idris Muhammad on drums), "Lullaby of Birdland" ("12 Different Interpretations by 12 Modern Arrangers played by 12 exciting Jazz Groups" sounded too good to pass up).

Front row: Red Garland "Rediscovered Masters" (which I've been in a Garland mood, so that was a nice find), Al Hirt/Lalo Schifrin "Latin In The Horn" (I had no idea this existed!) Johnny Nash "I Got Rhythm" (this record has eluded me for too long.)

Now this is a fun batch. Apparently these all belonged to Keith Higginbotham (see the label stickers on the covers.) Looks like a nice batch of bubblegum/sunshine pop I love sooooo much!

Back row: The Happenings "Psycle", 1910 Fruit Gum Co. "Simon Says", Andy Kim "How'd We Ever Get This Way" and "Rainbow Ride" (one of these is supposed to be brilliant...I think.)

Middle set: The Peppermint Rainbow "Will You Be Staying After Sunday", The Rose Garden, Lover & Friend "Reach Out Of The Darkness".

Fronts: Bobby Russell "Unlimited", Bryan Hyland "Tragedy/A Million To One".

Then there was Spirit "Spirit of '76" and a German pressing of "Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde" which was a destiny find as I'd has "This Wheel's On Fire" running though my head all that day.

Finally, this was the capper for me. Obscure Muncie garage band The Other Five. The top side is a Bert Russell tune which sounds kinda like Son of Hang On Sloopy. There's horns and everything, so someone put some money into this. The flip is an interesting arrangement of the Kink's "You Really Got Me." Great Nuggets style 7" and probably worth several times what I paid.

The cats aren't so impressed with the current stash though. They can't decide if they want to hear Sergio Mendes or perhaps something from my Command records library buried further in the stack.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

RIP Bud.

There's absolutely nothing that can describe the rip out your guts and stomp on them feeling that accompanies the decision to put a pet to sleep. Nor is there anything quite like the self-doubt that accompanies that decision, no matter how right that decision is. When the pet isn't that old, I think it's even worse.

It's hard to understand how Bud could have gone from so healthy like he was in this picture from July to so sick in about three months like he did when everything started. It makes you feel so helpless trying to do everything you can and seeing no change or a change for the worse.

Eventually you reach that point where you know things aren't going to get any better and all you're doing is prolonging the misery. Knowing that doesn't make it any harder to let go.

Bud was a trooper and Bud was a survivor. Three years ago, he came back from hepatic lipidosis caused by a severe urinary tract blockage. I almost lost him, but he rebounded in time. This time, the hepatic lipidosis was symptomatic of a gall bladder blockage and by the time we discovered it, the chances of recovery weren't so good. It started looking like neurological damage was setting in. There was just too much happening, too many unknowns and I couldn't stand to see my friend suffer any longer.

I thought he'd be with me for a long time to come. I really thought we'd beat this. He'd looked so much worse before. While we could have rolled the dice and hoped for the best, the look in his eyes told me it was time to let him go.

It's still not easy. I'm totally cried out*, but that doesn't mean I'm not hurting.

Part of me feels it was too soon to bring not one but two new cats into my life, but the other part of me knows how much easier they are making this period on me and my fiancee. They will never replace Bud and we're not trying to. But, they needed home and we needed cats. Pets are incredible healing and having two little ones running around reminds me of all the good times Bud and I used to have. And that makes me smile.

So, here's Beans and Eliza (names subject to change.) We're glad they came to live with us and while we wish Bud could be here to meet them, we think he'd approve, wherever he is.

* - later that day I got a call from my dad. My grandfather had an aneurysm burst, fell and is more or less in a coma and probably won't be coming home. When it rains, it pours.