“Death comes sweeping through the hallway like a ladies dress. Death comes driving down the hallway in its Sunday best” -Fire of Unknown Origin
Alas it is that time of year again and I cannot help but write about it. My father would have been 83 yesterday. He passed away as I held his hand over a decade ago, on Father’s Day. This Saturday I will remember him at the Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) party at the graveyard. I am way fond of graveyards and parties, as well, so to do the party in the graveyard is one of my all time favorite things, next to the mermaid parade.
Yes, officially friday is the day that the veil is lifted between the 2 worlds, that of the living and that of the dead. It is the day to celebrate the lives of our family and friends who have passed away.
This week NYC lost two greats, Lou Reed and Codie Leone. I was touched by them both. They will be missed. I will let their close loved ones write about them because they can do it better than me. Today I will stick to writing about my close loved ones.
My experience growing up with my father was complicated. It was both loaded, burdensome and troubling- filled with hurt and rage and walking on eggshells and depression AND it was also vivid and loving, full of swagger and mischief and fun, joyous with the simple things like swimming and delicious food, movies and music. Making sense of our relationship has been a complicated task. That makes mourning so very complicated but alas, since becoming a parent I have been given the lovely gift of compassion and empathy for both of my parents. Today, I get the lack of patience, the need to yell in an attempt to control, the frustration at failing to make a little creature do what you want or need them to do. I don’t understand everything, but I try to have compassion for my father, for me, for both of us. Being a parent is hard and I have truly come to see that my working class parents did the best they could with what they had.
With that said, I want to thank you dad, Raul Ramos, for carving great pumpkins, because that is an art, for hand making our fine finished mid-century modern furniture that was perfect and beautiful, for cooking great pancakes and bacon, for loving King Kong, Frankenstein and all those great horror films of your youth, for loving the ocean and taking us to pools and lakes and teaching us to swim. Thank you for your love and respect of your parents, for teaching me not to call the elderly “old ladies” even though I did not listen, for reminding me to be a good friend, thank you for loving animals and being kind to all living creatures, thank you for getting us a cat. Thank you for spending your adult life dedicated to your family, providing for us the very best you could, for always providing for us, never failing. Thank you for being calm somewhere inside, for having great simple wisdom, and thank you for enjoying your life, seeking fun and laughter and friendship. Thank you for being a good father.
Death always brings gifts with it. It reminds us of our priorities, it reminds us to value life, to love our friends, to stop and smell the roses, it shows us just how very fragile and temporary and grand it all is. I am sharing this beautiful poem again today. Forgive my bragging but it was written by my friend, my daughter's nanny. Forgive my repetativeness but it is worth two readings. It refers to the very same gifts I am speaking of….
When you fall out of the tree by Meredyth Hunt
When you fall out of the tree,
and you will.
Whether it is from the welcoming oak in a friend’s backyard
with the treehouse for her kids.
Or the corporate job you were profoundly excited to get.
When you fall,
there are a few things you should know.
As you hit the ground,
it’s going to hurt,
The impact will be such that at first
you will not see the loving faces whispering for you to
lie still, that a different help is coming.
You will look up at the space
that seconds before you had owned with grand assurance
and it will be very far away.
And you will feel sad.
And then trapped.
And then sad sad sad.
But here is the reason you fell out of the tree,
You fell out of the tree because it was time
for you to feel how profoundly loved you are.
It was time for you to know
that even though you cannot
brush your hair,
take a bite,
pay the bills,
sleep through the night,
there is a line of people waiting to do these things for you.
Some of them you do not even know.
They will lift the folds of your flesh,
and scrub away your pride,
and you will be grateful for it -
though you would have never wished for that gift.
This is what happens when you hit the ground and crack.
You are cradled, and glued, wiped, and kissed.
You are shown all the times and places
where you could have given more,
and you will weep for what you held back.
You are broken open a thousand times bigger
than the impact of the fall.
Though I do not wish for you to fall out of the tree,
I will not stop it if you do.
But I will be there when you hit the ground.
I will be there.
And you will feel ferocious love.
you can read her blog here http://ow.ly/qiBTg
and sorry, yes I am posting this agin too. i love this version. “thought of you as everything I've had and couldn’t keep”