The Animation Pimp offers a very personal journey of self-discovery and advice as he eulogizes his grandfather.
Fathers of NightMy dad once told meMy father taught meMy father used to tell meMy father used to saySweet fuck all.Nothing.
Two fathers.One grandfather.No Virgils.
BackgroundFather #1: Born fatherless.Father #2: Grandfather till age five or so.Father #3: Not Really My Pops. Cop. Abusive. Split.
I was supposed to write about The Street today. Instead I saw my first dead person.
Forget that they look asleep stuff no this guy looked BEYOND sleep, looked like the breath had been sucked right out of him remember the way that bounty hunter at the beginning of Attack of the Clones got all shriveled up wellit was something like that.
This once-man was my grandfather.
Everything stopped, and didnt.
Meaningless Memories of Unlikely Foreshadowing #1
Just before my uncle left the night before he said, dont go anywhere.
Relatives arrive. Smiles. Daze, haze and craze. Everyone looking for distractions so we remember to forget.
Grandfather Always Used to Tell MeYour grandmother always considered you her son.
Meaningless Memories of Unlikely Foreshadowing #2
I left about 12 hours before he died. As I was leaving I saw that his watch had stopped.
Uncle Once Told MeDuring the 10-year exile from my grandparents, I later learned that they used to drive by my schools just to have a look at me.
Chaplain arrives. No one wants to speak at the service. Baffles me. How can you not want to SAY something, ANYTHING about your father?
I dont really WANT to speak, but need to.
Funeral Tip #1If loved one dies in relatively normal way (all parts intact), see the REAL dead person not the waxed up funeral home action figure.
Shaking like a dry drunk. Keep it together before I speak by pretending that the organist is playing hockey arena ditties.
Whats with the God stuff? Grandpa hated religion(s). All of them.
My turn. Already? Told my cousins to make faces at me or pretend to pick their noses. Got up there and couldnt look up. Didnt want to see those grieving faces.
Still, I heard them.
Abide with me was way too long. Last week I found a 52-sec. version by Thelonious Monk.
I dont remember anything particularly clear about those early days, just an assortment of snapshots, most of them happy and almost all of them involving Grandma and Grandpa. I remember a lot of happy faces. Always being surrounded by family.
Funeral Tip #2
Always make sure SOMEONE who was intimate with the ex-lifer speaks at the service. Nothing more cold than leaving it to a stranger.
Pallbearer time. All us grandkids. Dont have far to go. Cold and heavy.
It was all show. Too cold to bury him. I figured that the hearse which is the symbol of transference and closure was going round the block, might stop at Tim Hortons first for a coffee, and then head back to the funeral home and put gramps back in the freezer.
Reception at uncles place. Hes a great guy. Wish he was my pops.
Post-funeral was maybe the hardest. Wed all been weaved together for the last four days, day and night. It kept us from truth, from solitude, from cold, hard sorrow. Maybe we also feared the death of the family. Gramps was the train station to our trains. Where we gonna go without a station?
While the choice is still ours, we return to our homes, families, lives.
In death we found life and love, but for how long? How long before we slip, fall and forget?
Post-Funeral Tip #1
Grief never goes away.
Friday, January 30, four days since the funeral. This is my first attempt at anything beyond grief. For some reason I figured Id be fine the day after the funeral. Nope.
It feels like the ultimate breakup except that theres no form of appeal. No letters, calls, begging cause theres no one to perform for. OK, I guess church folk would say that I could pray to God.
I did go out and buy the bible. Figured it might be a good read.
You know how when you turn the TV off you sometimes see the outline of the previous image lingering on the screen? Thats precisely how I feel right now.
January 30, 10:00 pm: A late night drive to my grandparents old place, where I was born. Just sit in the car watching that old house, remembering and creating. Didnt stay for long. The house was sold last fall and I quickly realize that a strange car idling in a lane for 10 minutes is not normal.
Post-Funeral Tip #2
Do NOT watch Tim Burtons Big Fish after the death of a loved one.
Private guy. Had trouble with emotions. Short tempered. Didnt have a sense of humor. Distant sort. I guess he just couldnt articulate all the stuff in him. Didnt matter. We knew. He was always there when folks needed him. What more?
Next Time Youre in Ottawa
Apparently if you go to the airplane museum here in Ottawa, you can find evidence of him on a part from the famous Avro Arrow plane. When they were dismantling it, lines were drawn on the plane with the words Cut Here. Apparently my grandfather authored those words. Guess thats where I got my writing blood.
He started dying in 1996 when my grandmother had to be placed in a nursing home because of Alzheimers. He was heartbroken. He emptied the house. Had a family fire sale. House became creepy, empty, ghostly. Hed visit her every day. Soon he was nursing her. He became part of the staff in essence. But he let the rest of his life stop. He hated that house. He barely slept. Last July he moved into the nursing home. We knew something was up.
Kelly and I got married for him. Wed been together for five years but he was always asking (but really suggesting).
When I finally found my way into their lives again some 10 years later or so, they welcomed me as if I had never left. But it was strange because I was nine when I was taken, and 18 when I returned. Even though weve been together the last 18 years, Ive still felt a little distant, a little bit like an outsider, like I wasnt real family. Probably connected with the fatherless birth too. It wasnt them though. It was me.
Satori in Ottawa?
Without me really looking, without me having any clue what the process was about or where it was going, I sorta solved the whole father thingamajig. Ya see, no matter how far I drifted into a world of darkness and hate later on in my life, the roots of my grandparents love was always there as a series of abstract emotions, a faint beacon. I lost sight of it a few years ago when I became obsessed with finding my biological father. I tracked him down in 2000. I wanted him to accept me. I wanted him to make up for being a dead-beat dipshit. No go. After that failed, I tried to see if there was something with not really my pops, but we were nothing but bad roommates in a real fiery house of hate. There werent no love to be found in those fellas.
Why did I need this? I turned out relatively okay. I cant really explain it. Maybe it has to do with being a father myself. How the heck can I father w/o having been fathered? I guess there are times when you just want the comfort, the guidance, the experience of a father.
In writing the eulogy, I realized not only how much I loved this man, but also how much he loved me. This love uncovered an inner strength that I didnt even know was there. He was my father all along. Right under my nose the whole time.
My grandfathers death led me back to my family, my roots and for the first time in a long, long time made me feel like I was part of something. Through his death, I found something like a life and thats pretty damn beautiful.
Guess its time to get back to The Street.
Chris Robinson is but a man. His hobbies include squirrel taunting, goat thumping, meat dancing and elderly peeping. You can find the results at http://asifa.net/robinson.
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