Death and Remembrance


Posted on March 24th, by James McAllen in Uncategorized. 1 Comment

Today, Sunday March 24th was the 4th anniversary of my father’s passing. I had a great day.

I cleaned the house a bit, did some laundry, went for a power walk, watched a bit of the Bay Ridge St. Paddy’s parade, took a nap, and made chicken breasts with spinach for dinner.  It was a great day.

When I got back from my walk, I had received a few messages from people who remembered what day it was. It was nice that they remembered. It was nice to know that the old man had an impact on their lives.

But it got me to start thinking, “Am I supposed to feel bad today?”

I think a lot of people get too caught up in dates and anniversaries. I know it’s a big catholic thing to visit gravesites on Birthdays and Mothers Day and things like that. I’m not sure why those days are more important. I’m not sure why people visit the gravesite at all. I know that people like to talk to their loved ones. I’m not sure if they can hear better from the gravesite. They were already dead when we buried them.  I talk to my mom all the time. I usually just mutter, “look at this asshole” and I know that she would have smiled.

Whenever I go away, I always seem to wander through the local cemetaries. However, I’ve never been to my parents graves. The only time I go to the family plots is when the next person dies. Hope I don’t have to go there for a while. Like a LOOONG while.

I remember the first Thanksgiving after my mother passed. Lots of people called me. They all said something along the lines of  “I know it’s going to be a hard day for you tomorrow. Just wanted to know I was thinking of you.”

I know they meant well, but I wanted to respond, “yeah, it’s gonna be hard. I’m gonna have to eat stupid turkey and lumpy mashed potatoes instead of a nice piece of ‘manigawt’ and ‘sausiche’.  (I know that’s not how you spell it, but that’s how it sounds phonetically in Brooklynese.)

The funny thing is, I usually miss my loved ones at the most unusual and inopportune times.

Last summer I was walking through Cooperstown with my then-girlfriend. As we passed Doubleday Field, a man and his young son walked out into the parking lot.  They were holding hands and carrying ragged baseball mitts.

I lost it. Tears, snot, shoulder-shaking. The whole nine.

Much to her credit, she didn’t serve me with the usual platitudes, “It’s ok, it will be allright, he’s looking down on you and smiling”. When I was finished sniffling, she simply said, “You ok?” To which I replied, “never better.”  And it was true. There’s no shame in crying, no shame in missing someone that you loved and loved you. The sad part would be if you didn’t cry or miss the person. I feel sorry for those people.

Sometimes people have a good day, or a close call with a bad day, and they say things like,

That was my uncle’s grandfather watching over me.”

I usually cringe and hold my tongue when they say that. If it’s that easy, why can’t my mom get me the lotto numbers and a date with Eva Mendes? Screw Ryan Gosling, the dude is as dumb as a stump. Does he have a book of short stories on Amazon?

On Friday April 3rd, 2009, I was asleep on the couch in the middle of the day when the phone rang. The caller ID told me it was my brother calling from work.

Panic raced through me. He knows I sleep in the daytime. Why is he calling?

Wassamatta? Wassamatta? I ask.

Nothing, he says.  What are you doing?, he asks mysteriously.

Waiting for you to tell me what the hell is wrong, I respond.

‘I wanted to see if you were busy tonight“.  Then I knew. I could hear the smirk on his face. He knew I wasn’t busy. He knew that I was still suffering from the loss of my old man, it being only 2 weeks after his death.

April 3, 2009 was the night they opened the New Yankee Stadium. The Yankees played an exhibition game with the Chicago Cubs. My friend Billy, says that it doesn’t count because it was only an exhibition, but he’s an idiot.

As I walked through the stadium portal for the first time, I swelled with pride and choked back the tears. I could feel the old man standing next to me, holding my hand. Just like the first time.

I still cringe when I hear people say things like, “My godmother’s aunt was watching over me when I fell down those 6 flights of stairs.”  I want to scream, do you know how ridiculous you sound?

The problem is, I know that somehow,  someway, the Old Man got us those tickets.

Today was a good day. I didn’t miss the old man any more or less than I usually do.

A week from Monday is Opening Day. That’s a different story.

 





One thought on “Death and Remembrance

  1. I remember getting ready for work listening to WNEW and it was Opening Day and they played Centerfield by John Fogerty and I lost it. My father had just passed away that January. I remember him putting his hand on my brothers shoulder and saying, “spring training… just around the corner” … I was sitting right next to my brother when he said that and I remember thinking, he was not going to be there for it. No one ever really knows what to say and I think there really is nothing to say… it’s just a moment to connect. Those who know, know and I can see it in their eyes. As they can see it mine.

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